The Man from U.N.C.L.E

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The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Conceived as a spoof on the James Bond films, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was rooted in the cultural climate of the 1960s and was American television's most noteworthy nod to the international success of author Ian Fleming's spy hero. Created by Dr. Kildare producer Norman Felton, with initial support and assistance from Fleming, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. introduced audiences to Napoleon Solo (played by Robert Vaughn) and his Russian partner Ilya Kuryakin (David McCallum), secret agents for the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. Their weekly battles against the evil minions of THRUSH attracted little critical or popular attention when the show made its debut in the fall of 1964. However, when NBC moved the show from Tuesday to Monday nights in early 1965, it rapidly gained a cult-like popularity, particularly among young viewers for whom lines of U.N.C.L.E. toys and books were manufactured. (In 1966 the network even commissioned a spinoff, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., to take further advantage of the fad; the series ended after 29 episodes). However, U.N.C.L.E.'s outlandish plots and arch humor became too ridiculous to retain sufficiently wide appeal, and despite efforts to refocus the show on straight adventure, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was retired to syndication in 1968. Various episodes were made up into feature films that enjoyed a modest success outside of the United States.

—Jeffrey S. Miller

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The Man from U.N.C.L.E

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