Friday Roundup



Been a while, huh? Sorry about that—it’s been a busy couple of weeks. I had a Very Important Houseguest, and then my Duranalysis book launched, and then I went to Seattle to search for an apartment (found one! A good one! But it was an uphill battle!), and… well, I’m back. Until I’m happily and successfully relocated in Seattle by the middle of May, though, things will be spotty and sporadic around here. 

Good trip to Seattle, though my sister and I spent much of it kind of stressed and unhappy that our apartment hunt was going so poorly. Yesterday, my sister sent me her carefully itemized notes of everything we did on the trip; it contains sentences like “Ate gas station burrito in hotel room” and “Had wine and peanut M&Ms from honor bar for dinner”, so, y’know, it was that kind of a visit. We did manage to squeeze in some good food as well, though, including excellent pho in our new neighborhood of Capitol Hill. And that gas station burrito was surprisingly tasty, really.

The Very Important Houseguest, by the way, was the great Sarah Kurchak, journalist extraordinaire, whose AV Club essay on Illya Kuryakin was what got me initially hooked on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. almost two years ago. It was awesome finally meeting Sarah in real life; we spent the week drinking champagne and hanging out on the couch watching U.N.C.L.E. episodes and awful/amazing old Robert Vaughn films. It was a blast.

On the subject of U.N.C.L.E…. I’m afraid another recapping hiatus is upon us while I figure out the correct course of action. See, I have about twenty episodes left to go, and I should just burn through them, but… many of them are terrible. Soul-crushingly bad. Awful. For the most part, the idea of watching them multiple times to come up with material for a recap makes me want to cry. Here’s what’s left:

Season One:
“The Vulcan Affair”—this is the pilot episode, and it isn’t bad at all. There’s a much longer version, shot in color and released under the title Solo, which I will no doubt someday get around to recapping.

“The Iowa Scuba Affair”—I remember literally nothing about this episode other than I didn’t like it. Illya does not appear in it.

“The Green Opal Affair”—Oh, yeah, this one is just awful.

“The Finny Foot Affair”—No Illya in this one, but I’ll get around to it at some point, because it’s not bad AND it has a cute performance from a wee little Kurt Russell.


“The Neptune Affair”—It’s got Illya in a Soviet Navy uniform? There’s not much else to recommend it.

“The Dove Affair”—Scripted by the great Robert Towne, with a cool guest performance by Ricardo Montalban. No Illya, but worth recapping.

“The Yellow Scarf Affair”—No Illya, and the story isn’t interesting enough to mitigate his loss.

Season Two:
“The Alexander the Greater Affair”—The two-part season premiere. Not at all bad. Lots of scenes where Napoleon and Illya look swanky and stylish in tuxedos.


“The Bridge of Lions Affair”—Another two-parter. This is an odd one. It’s based on a non-U.N.C.L.E. novel, Henry Slesar’s The Bridge of Lions, and thus great swaths of the plot have absolutely nothing to do with Illya or Napoleon. It is also very, very slow and stagnant. Still, I’ll get around to it someday. There’s a splendid sequence in a wine vat that compensates for a lot of tedium.

Season Three:
“The Galatea Affair”—a crossover with The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. Napoleon barely appears in this one; on the mission, Illya is paired up with GFU’s Mark Slate. Also, Joan Collins is in it. Doesn’t suck.

“The Deadly Smorgasbord Affair”—Oh, this one is just dreadful. No Illya, either.

“The Five Daughters Affair”—a two-parter that manages to be pretty god-awful despite the (brief) presence of Joan Crawford.

Season Four:
“The Test Tube Killer Affair”—Napoleon and Illya are sidelined by guest stars Christopher Jones and Lynn Loring.

“The J is for Judas Affair”—In which Napoleon and Illya are disgracefully bad at their jobs, but not in an entertaining way.

“The Prince of Darkness Affair”—A not-too-terrible, not-too-good two-parter. I have thus far shunned all the two-part episodes, apart from the wildly entertaining “Concrete Overcoat Affair,” because life is short and they take forever to recap.

“The Fiery Angel Affair”—I started rewatching this one a few weeks ago with the goal of recapping it and got so bored I had to turn it off.

“The Man From THRUSH Affair”—No Illya, but I don’t hate this one. Napoleon goes undercover in THRUSH and immediately whips the whole organization into better shape.

“The Survival School Affair”—The only episode in the entire series without any Napoleon. It does have a dewy young Richard Beymer running around, but that’s not enough to salvage it. Sarah and I tried watching it during her visit, and we sort of abandoned it halfway through and never returned to it. Due to my devout and passionate West Side Story love, though, it’s hard to say no to Richard Beymer.



“The Maze Affair”—THRUSH tricks Illya into bringing a bomb into U.N.C.L.E. headquarters. Both McCallum and Vaughn seem so grumpy and lifeless in this one that it makes it tough to watch.

“The Seven Wonders of the World Affair”—The absolute worst. I will never, ever spend any time rewatching this tedious and charmless two-part mess, much less recapping it.

The book launch is going well! Elisa Lorello, author of several novels plus the Duran Duran-centric memoir Friends of Mine, wrote a very warm and kind review of Duranalysis on her blog. Elisa and I did a book swap: I sent her Duranalysis, she sent me Friends of Mine. I’d been aware of Elisa and her book for a long time; I even bought it on Kindle several months ago, but had deliberately held off from reading it until I was all finished writing my book to avoid any chance of stylistic bleed. With the book done and out in the world, I finally had a chance to settle in with Friends of Mine. It was a joy to read: Elisa is a marvelous writer, with a very engaging style; her personality—funny, likable, smart—comes through on every page.




Duranalysis should now be available practically everywhere—if you’re not an Amazon fan, here’s the Barnes & Noble link, in case you’d prefer to order it from there.

Video to go into the weekend: Foreigner’s “That Was Yesterday,” because dammit, it tugs on my heartstrings every time (“But it’s not the end of my world, just a slight change in plans…”).



More soon.

Comments

Ingrid Richter said…
Heh. Here's the full breakdown of our Seattle weekend, if anyone's interested:

Fri, Apr 21:
- Au Bon Pain at JFK
- Cheesecake Factory for gruesome Cobb
- Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill
- Dudebro apartments on Broadway
- Gas station burrito at SeaTac
- Ramada Inn for early evening & scheduling

Sat, Apr 22:
- Denny’s for breakfast
- Volunteer Park for squirrels, dogs and Microsoft film crew
- Viewing of first apartment (carpeted hobbit hole!)
- Coffee at Starbucks.
- Blown off by second landlord. Rainy
- Pho and jasmine tea at Bamboo Vietnamese
- Viewing of second apartment (nice!)
- Wells Fargo with friend
- Twice Sold Tales (cats!)
- DeLaurenti for new Dogfish beers: Head Sea Quench and Flesh & Blood IPA
- Chipotle bowls for hotel room

Sun, Apr 23:
- Checked out of Ramada
- Light rail to Westlake
- Top Pot too crowded
- Bedlam Coffee for cappuccinos and chocolate cookie
- Pike Place Market exploring
- Bus to Tacoma
- Elemental Pizza for huckleberry cider, Mort’s Pie and Green Goddess
- Tacoma Art Museum (TAM)
- Early checkin to Hotel Murano
- Failed Old Spaghetti Factory excursion in rain
- Honor bar dinner of wine and peanut M&Ms

Mon, Apr 24:
- Breakfast at Hotel Murano
- Killing time with Doctor Who and Parks & Rec
- Old Spaghetti Factory for Pot Pourri and glasses of wine
- Bus to Seattle
- T2: Trainspotting 2 in theater with recliners and rumble seats
- Daiso and Lush glimpses
- Light rail to SeaTac
- Ivars for seafood combo (fish, clams, baby prawns) and caesar salad
- Red-eye flight (lots of turbulence) back to JFK
mousie mouse said…
my unsolicited advice/opinion is that you should do the u.n.c.l.es you really want to do and the ones that are hilariously terrible, but i have a hard time getting through the recaps of the tedious and/or mediocre ones, and i get the feeling you do too. like i said in my email, i'm ready for the 80s anime dubbing era of preppies.

even though i didn't grow up in the 80s and during that year where "hungry" was being promotionally used everywhere (glee covered it! that trident thing with steve aoki! any others i blocked from my memory) i would've killed for someone to use literally any other duran song so clearly it's not coded in my dna, i loved duranalysis! and the introduction was adorable :3 (though i did notice one small error, because i was shocked to discover it the last time i watched sing blue silver: it's not galaga nick's playing when he gets dragged away from his game! it's some kind of vector-based shooter. he plays galaga once, over an hour in, and makes little screechy noises throughout. it reminded me of peridot from steven universe.) i... also read it at two in the morning when the a/c was broken and i couldn't sleep, so i wouldn't want to properly review it right now. XD

i'm glad the apartment has been found! that sounds like a definite positive in your moving odyssey.
amanda panda said…
and because it bothered me so much that i couldn't recognize this game (and there are no shots of the cabinet art, which is very intentional and will make sense at the end of this sentence), i started looking through wikipedia and lo and behold, it's atari's star wars. i now know every game cabinet that appears in sing blue silver, unless there's another nick-plays-a-game scene i didn't notice (star wars, joust, galaga). what an accomplishment???

also, i loled at the "gruesome cobb" from the cheesecake factory. their dishes are all so large that every one of them feels gruesome by the end!
montereysnow said…
I am glad to hear that the book launch and apartment search went well.

Watching UNCLE and Robert Vaughn films with a kindred spirit sounds like so much fun.

I thought you might like to know I read in the local paper a few weeks ago that a group of Robert Vaughn fans is raising funds to install a bench with his name on it
in the town in which he lived. The bench will go in Ballard Park in Ridgefield,
CT.

I drive by there about once a week.It is a cute little park off of a cute little Main Street. They are aiming for his upcoming November birthday.

I was wondering how you would handle some of those UNCLE episodes you mentioned.
I did manage to get through the Fiery Angel Affair a second time, but told my husband I was going to bring the window down on my neck if that condescending woman said, "my people" one more time.

I don't think any other episode does what the Test Tube Killer Affair does. It not only marginalizes Napoleon and Illya it makes them unsympathetic, and it seems like we are suppose to root against them.

Maybe you could include the ones you don't want to recap in their own section similar to what you did in this post.

Anyways, I hope the move goes smoothly.
vintagehoarder said…
I'm so glad everything has gone well! And congratulations on your book!

As for the recaps--well, I must admit I'd adore reading your snarky comments about the episodes you hate (c'mon, you managed "The Abominable Snowman Affair", so how hard could "The Iowa Scuba Affair" be? At least the plot makes sense!) However, if you can't, you can't. :(

(And I notice you've left The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. off your list!)
Morgan Richter said…
Ingrid -- damn, we ate at a lot of chain restaurants during that trip! In our defense, we were both exhausted and busy and prone to stumbling into whatever was closest at the time. Though that cobb salad at Cheesecake Factory was an abomination (and yet it's still only the second-worst cobb salad you've had in recent months).

Mousie -- you're totally right, it's Star Wars, not Galaga. My mistake.

montereysnow -- Aw, I'm so glad to hear about the plans for the Robert Vaughn bench! That's a lovely gesture. It feels like news of his death got a little trampled, what with the glut of high-profile celebrity passings in 2016.

vintagehoarder -- Oh, I absolutely have to address Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. at some point. It's so terrible, but it's totally worth a recap.
Lily said…
I'm so glad you and Sarah got to meet!!

Haha, yeah those last episodes are not the best of the bunch...
Morgan Richter said…
Lily, it was great meeting Sarah! She's every bit as delightful in person as she is on Twitter.
M'lady said…
I'm a bit weird I likedon't the bridge of lions affair well part 1. Part 2 feels like a lot of filler.
The Alexander affair is worth a watch for the sheer ridiculous manner the bad guy tries to dispose of our heros. And just how does that estranged wife keep her hair so perfect? And ruffle shirt tuxerox must be a nightmare to iron.
Return of the man from uncle I watched twice just to see if it would improve. A lot I skipped the 2nd time round and John steed (I can't see him as anything else) as the new no 1 seems quite useless. I think they should have put Friday in charge.
Morgan Richter said…
M'lady -- Yeah, Bridge of Lions starts out pretty strong, and then becomes really, really slow. I'm downright fond of Alexander, even though it's a silly mess.

I've seen Return of the Man From UNCLE once, and it was tough to get through, even with Steed as the new Waverly. Someday soon, I'll take another stab at it.
M'lady said…
Maybe some alcohol will help make it more bareable?
I'd love to see you rate your top 10 episodes for different categories? You could call it the uncle awards. ;)
Laika said…
For me, Bridge of Lions was completely redeemed by the scene with Waverly in the wine press. I still sometimes remember that and randomly crack up. A close second is Illya setting off his exploding money clip to prove to Napoleon that he has one.
M'lady said…
When waverly says he doesn't usually disrobe in public as he takes off his tie. Makes me chuckle. That and him totally schooling napoleon in how to escape properly.
Laika said…
"We'll be somewhat pressed..."

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