[identity profile] rallamajoop.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] muncle211
UNCLE canon is an interesting beast. Google the show today, and you're likely to find yourself reading something about the HQ's secret entrance through Mask Club or Illya's love of jazz – both of which came direct from the official production notes, but neither of which ever made it into the series in any form. UNCLE is packed with these sort of idiosyncrasies, but one of my favourite examples of just how odd the blurry outer edges of UNCLE canon can get is the UNCLE gun.

Few could argue that the UNCLE Special was (and is) absolutely one of the defining icons of the show.

It had appeared prominently in photoshoots and been mentioned by name in the papers well before the show ever made it to air. Napoleon's pre-production bio included a couple of sentences wholly dedicated to the very special UNCLE gun he carried. It scored a multi-page photo-feature in the TV Guide only four months into the series – before even Illya Kuryakin had achieved the same – and another in the May 1965 issue of Gun World magazine. The penultimate issue of The Man From UNCLE Magazine, which existed almost entirely as a venue for short stories set in the universe the show, featured an article by gun expert which expanded even further on the workings of the gun (though which may arguably be no more canonical than any other story from that publication).

I've found both the UNCLE Magazine and Gun World articles online, and are both well worth a read if you're interested in the inner workings of the UNCLE gun. That TV Guide article is available too, though I've only been able to find it at a very low resolution. Click the thumbs below for full pages.



Gun World – The Cat With The Gat From UNCLE

UNCLE Magazine – The UNCLE Special

TV Guide – What a Weapon for a One-Man Army

With a bevy of attachments that could convert it for long-range sniping or automatic fire, able to shoot either regular bullets or tranquiliser darts, the UNCLE gun was designed from the outset with merchandising in mind, and toy replicas were predicted to sell in the millions (how many actually sold is hard to discover, but it must have been well into the hundreds of thousands at least, if not much higher). The introductory 'Welcome to UNCLE' sequence which played in the first half season showed Illya Kuryakin partially assembling an UNCLE Special. In The Brain Killer Affair, Roosevelt Grier plays an UNCLE agent by the name of Jason, who spoke not a single word of dialogue and whose role in the plot was limited to being ambushed from behind like a chump, but who's nonetheless fondly remembered by fans purely for a scene in which he assembles the UNCLE gun with the full set of his attachments (mail from the toy manufacturers urged the producers to show off the fully-assembled gun on screen even more often than they did).

So much has already been written about the behind-the-scenes development of the UNCLE Special and the role it played in the mythos of the show that there's little point in rehashing the lot of it here, but I would recommend C. W. Walker's very informative article on The Fans from UNCLE site to any UNCLE fan. The chapter on props from Jon Heitland's UNCLE book, The Behind-the-Scenes Story of a Television Classic is another great source. Both will tell you that the UNCLE gun so popular was the UNCLE gun that it even received its own fanmail (around 500 pieces a week by February 1965, according to that TV Guide article).

So it would probably surprise most fans to note that virtually nowhere is any explicit reference to the special nature of the UNCLE gun ever made on screen.


Nowhere are we told that the guns carried by Section II agents were developed by UNCLE's own tech divisions. Nowhere are any of its special capabilities described for us in dialogue. The name, the "UNCLE Special" is never once spoken aloud.

I state this 'fact' with the minor caveat that if anyone can point out an example I've missed, then by all means, please correct me. But given that neither a rigourous text-based search through the complete subtitle files for all four seasons or the response when I first threw the question open to other fans turned up anything, I very much doubt there's much left to find.

The closest we ever get seems to be an incident in the Return movie where Napoleon wants to know, “What happened to the special U.N.C.L.E. guns we used to carry?” – and that coming only some 20 years after the original series left the air. In fact, rarely are any of the gun's special properties brought to our attention, even implicitly. A casual fan without enough firearms knowledge to tell a 'real' Walther P-38 from UNCLE's customised version could conceivably watch the whole series without noting the guns as having any particular significance at all.

Probably the best-communicated feature of the UNCLE Special is its ability to fire tranquiliser darts in addition to regular bullets. This was first demonstrated in The Quadripartite Affair, where we see Napoleon loading a special bullet into his gun seconds before using it to quietly knock out a Thrush guard. In The Secret Sceptre Affair Napoleon specifies that UNCLE has given them permission to help Col. Morgan "providing that we use nothing more than sleep-inducing darts in our guns." Napoleon uses another tranquilizer dart to drop a Thrush man in Discotheque, this time so quietly and so suddenly that a civilian woman in the same room has no idea why he collapses. Sleep-darts are also clearly used by UNCLE agents on a few other occasions, though in many, it's not necessarily obvious whether the guns were loaded with darts or bullets. But all this, at best, tells us that UNCLE uses specialised tranquilizer bullets. Nowhere is it specified that the gun firing them has been modified for the job, or even that the same gun is necessarily used for both kinds of ammunition. (Notably, on a number of occasions when silent, instantaneous sleep-darts would have been inarguably useful, Napoleon and Illya appear to have forgotten they have such a tool in their arsenals at all.) And though no real gun may have existed which could be fitted with all the Special's attachments, plenty take at least one or two. Why should UNCLE's version be so far out of the ordinary?

For all its supposed capabilities, the UNCLE Special isn't even consistently the first weapon of choice when available. One of those rare scenes where we see the UNCLE Special fully assembled comes in the car chase shoot-out at the quarry in Alexander the Greater Affair – but Illya and Napoleon use their assembled Specials only in the last moments of that battle. Illya spends the rest firing a standard carbine (conveniently pilfered from a quarry guard on their way in) out of the car window while Napoleon drives, giving up on it only when he runs out of bullets. Intervening scenes, where we see Illya frantically assembling his and Napoleon's Specials in the back seat of the car in between sniping at the enemy, do provide a significant clue as to why the carbine was such an attractive option. (Use of the assembled Specials does, notably, bring the shoot out abruptly to an end.)

Perhaps the most ever said aloud about the UNCLE gun is a couple of lines from Napoleon in Brain Killer, refreshing a doctor on how to use a pistol: "This is the safety. Full back, it won't fire. One notch forward, semi-automatic. One squeeze, one shot." If you're paying very close attention, you might catch him adding "Forget about full automatic. Keep it on semi. And don't get fancy. Use both hands to aim, all right?" in between the doctor's vocal protests about being expected to carry a gun in a hospital at all. This, for the record, seems to be the closest we get to an explicit reference to the special capabilities of the UNCLE gun – and given that automatic pistols have existed since the early 20th Century, doesn't much stand out to a casual viewer. A really dedicated canon purist, cleaving to the very letter of 'canon is only what actually happened on screen' could make a solid argument that virtually everything we 'know' about the UNCLE gun isn't really canon at all.

It all rather begs the question: why not? If the UNCLE gun was interesting enough to write all those articles about, why was the show itself so silent on the matter?

It's certainly not that the writers didn't think UNCLE's custom tech was worth introducing to the viewer, given how often attention is drawn to other gadgets used in the series. A deleted scene from the pilot (retained in the film version) introduces UNCLE's cigarette box communicators in some detail. Napoleon also takes the time to explain to an impatient enemy that the signal has to bounce off a satellite (The Tigers are Coming Affair), and to a nosy innocent that they're made quite cheaply in Japan (Shark), while an extended monologue in Waverly Ring goes into even more detail about their workings. Napoleon's escape from a Thrush cell in The Love Affair hinges on creative and well-narrated use of one of the small explosive charges we see the agents using to open locks in numerous previous (and later) episodes. The homing pins from Odd Man are similarly introduced to us as specialised UNCLE tech, produced by a dedicated research division. UNCLE's exploding buttons are introduced by Mr. Waverly with another monologue about their capabilities (Bridge of Lions), and Illya wastes a whole extra exploding money clip purely for the sake of letting us all know exactly what he'd just used (same episode).

Even the red night-vision scope on the Thrush rifles gets a couple of lines of introduction from Napoleon when we first see it in use in Iowa-Scuba ("We can't see them but they can see us. They're using black-light emissions and special finders to pick us up") and its use was flagged with inverted colours and a special sound effect. The Master's Touch Affair outfits Lisa Rogers with an entire handbag full of deadly gadgets disguised as cosmetics, and takes us through each one. For other UNCLE tech, these sorts of introductions seem to be standard practice. (The UNCLE car, notably, gets no such introduction, but given that the finished vehicle apparently hardly ever ran more than ten feet without falling apart, there were probably good, practical reasons why it never got much attention. Like the gun, it was nonetheless merchandised for all it was worth.)

Why, then, does the UNCLE gun never get the same? It's entirely possible, of course, that a scene introducing the UNCLE Special was written for one of the early episodes, only to be cut from the final edit for time, but in the absence of any real evidence one way or the other, we can only speculate.



Probably the simplest explanation is that by the time the gun was getting its own fanmail and its own feature articles, fans didn't need to be introduced to it. Anyone who cared enough about the show to want to know more about the gun was bound to have read about it, or seen the toys for sale. UNCLE was rapidly becoming such a phenomenon that what happened on screen was only one small fraction of the total noise being generated around the subject. The fact that apparently no-one even noticed the most famous prop from UNCLE never really came up on screen (much like all those famous lines that were never actually in the movie) demonstrates pretty definitively how little it mattered in the end.

All the same, it's puzzling just how little credit the show gives UNCLE for putting all that work into developing the UNCLE Special – especially considering the toy manufacturers were actively pushing for the show to draw more attention to their star seller. Even if giving the audience the full infomercial on all its capabilities at once might have been a bit much, it's no hard thing to come up with organic ways it might have been worked into a script. We could've seen Napoleon quipping, "What, did you get it stuck in automatic?" when a fellow agent runs out of bullets and complains about difficulty of replacing a non-standard caliber out in the field. We could've seen see Illya bitching that even after so many years in development, UNCLE still couldn't give them a gun they can fully assemble in under 60 seconds. We could've heard THRUSH flunkies boasting that UNCLE agents couldn't hit the flat side of a barn without their fancy custom guns. We could've seen Napoleon or Illya forced to leave their gun in the hands of an innocent who needs everything explained from scratch, or meet a gun-enthusiast who gets really excited by UNCLE's custom hardware. For which matter, I'm not sure we ever even see the assembled gun used for sniping from a distance at all. Given that the gun appears somewhere in almost every episode, the total number of missed opportunities must be staggering.

Whether anyone behind the scenes ever noticed that the UNCLE gun had become a functionally extra-canonical feature, we'll never know. But if ever you need a really good example of just how disconnected what people think they remember about a show can be from what actually happened on screen, the UNCLE Special is the weapon for you.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-04 05:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/_la_la_la/
Wow, thanks for sharing such an interesting essay showing how the Special was such a secret weapon it was never mentioned in canon :P Very interesting to know!

Not Alone...

Date: 2017-03-04 11:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fiorenza-a.livejournal.com

MFU fandom is not alone in conflating production notes and on-screen canon, but I have to admit the U.N.C.L.E. special is, erm, 'special' in how much play the production itself made of it.

I'm a purest in my zoning, centre: on-screen canon (film and/or T.V. universe as applicable) - first ring: official/authorised books/annuals/comics - second ring: production notes/interviews/articles - third ring: fanon/apocrypha/un-authorised sources. (Except - as with Harry Potter - where the book is the original source, when the centre and first zones switch places.)

Fictional universes like that of Sherlock Holmes are interesting from this point of view because significant parts of accepted canon were created by people like the illustrator Sidney Paget and not the author Conan Doyle.

Of course, there's always been interplay between fandom and creators, even, apparently, Charles Dickens was not immune. There is a story, which may or may not be true, that he had released a couple of chapters of Oliver Twist when a Jewish lady highlighted for him the harms of a stereotype like Fagin, after which he toned down the characteristics which we would now accept as being anti-semitic.

And my little purest soul derives an unreasonable degree of pleasure from fanon jumping to canon, etc.

RE: Not Alone...

Date: 2017-03-04 07:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fiorenza-a.livejournal.com

I think you present an interesting argument for U.N.C.L.E. being an original written source, my canon mantra is just for me - I wouldn't expect anyone else to necessarily adhere to it :0)

Actually, although I love a bit of 'Beam me up, Scotty', I prefer to leave the creators to create. Fans have fandom, I wouldn't feel right telling someone else what they can and cannot have in their fic, so I wouldn't feel right about doing the same to the creators. However, I do reserve the right of critique. I'm allowed to be disappointed at the direction the creators take, just as I'm allowed not to be swayed by a particular fic.

So I have criticisms of the 2015 movie, which I think distanced itself too far from canon, which I wouldn't level at the Star Trek reboots. I loved Ewoks, which a lot of fans don't, but don't have a lot of time for the 'prequels'. (Particularly the vaguely offensive notion of an elected Monarchy - those of us who are the subjects of constitutional Monarchies aren't, by default, democratically illiterate.) I'd rather pay me money and make me choice, than have hamstrung creatives.

And Dr Who...convoluted, messy, contradictory, marvellous, impossible, glorious. Fantastic!

RE: Not Alone...

Date: 2017-03-05 03:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] st-crispins.livejournal.com
The whole point of my Ph.D. dissertation and the subsequent book was to trace the creative process, not as a one way linear model as most mass comm theories do [sender-message-receiver] but to demonstrate that it's a dialogic process between and among creators and audiences.

I proposed a two-step model that's in the book [probably it's online somewhere as well] and used MFU as a case study. Obviously, MFU was way before the Internet and social media but the process was the same but in slow motion using different media like letters, etc. Norman was way ahead of other producers in being tuned into the fans. Many letters from folks I know now as long time fans are contained in his archives at the U of Iowa.

Norman kept in touch with fans even after the show was off the air and that's why there has been an MFU fandom for over 50 years. We predate Star Trek [and Roddenberry, who worked for Norman and was Sam Rolfe's drinking buddy, borrowed a lot from MFU for Trek]

Even though a lot of the details were contained in notes and never made it to the screen, many of the early writers and directors were aware of the material. RV recalled to me Solo's dead wife which, BTW, is alluded to twice I think in very subtle ways. Same with Illya's Communism which could not be announced explicitly because of the politics of the times. They lost it later on in third season but there are several allusions in first season when Rolfe was still around.

MFU and Trek were the first shows in which the fan base was young, really dedicated and in some sense, collaborative in a way we take for granted for shows like X-Files, Buffy and others onward. That's why the fandom survived for so long.

Norman was also very supportive of fan writings and zines, not only because he knew we were having fun but he rightly understood it would keep the property alive.
Edited Date: 2017-03-05 03:17 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-04 03:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] st-crispins.livejournal.com
I wrote an entire chapter of "Bang Bang Shoot Shoot: Guns and Popular Culture" which is still available to buiy on the Internet. Here is the text online: http://www.manfromuncle.org/gun.htm

If you want to know how elements of MFU were created, here's my other book which follows the complete creative process from first concept to cancellation
https://www.amazon.com/Work-Text-Investigating-Man-U-N-C-L-E/dp/1612891217/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1488642896&sr=8-1-fkmr1&keywords=work%2Ftext%3A+investigating+the+man+from+uncle

And finally, there is a lot of canon info around in the old MFU communities and web pages. You can start here: http://www.manfromuncle.org/article.htm

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-05 02:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] st-crispins.livejournal.com
There is very little on the gun in the book which is really about the overall creative process. I notice that you are interested in canon, etc., so I thought it might be useful.

The article that I've linked on the gun, however, is focused on the U.N.C.L.E. Special which I researched back in 1997, talking not only to the producers but also fans who actually owned the surviving guns. I believe Bill K and I even counted the appearances on the gun in the episodes and found that in episodes that the gun appeared there was [ironically] a lower body count. Note that the gun had a specific purpose: to sell toy guns. Seriously, although Sam Rolfe really wanted a kiss ass weapon too.

In third season, the gun went away pretty much because they had a lot of 'happy violence' brawls etc.

Also, the relationship with GFU and the gun is also of interest since the stars didn't like using it and they ended up designing a small and different weapon for April.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-04 04:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrua7.livejournal.com
This was excellent. There's a you tub video that I've seen of someone who duplicated the UNCLE gun, and made a functioning weapon.

I'm thinking that the working nature and functions of the gun probably weren't explained on the show like the cigarette case communicator and the Waverly ring because guns were things the audience were familiar with, and would just accept. Since the gun morphed from a Luger to the modified P-38 over the course of the series, it was probably just accepted...since it was just a gun, but a cool one at that. The scene that's an introduction (also on You Tube) of Illya assembling the gun lets the audience see the attachments and how they're but together. (I may be not recalling this correctly) Other examples of the gun being assembled were on the show but I'm drawing a blank on which episodes, so in essence that was an 'explanation' of the gun, just by the mere assembling of it. Does that make sense?

On a side note while watching the James Bond movie "Spectre" the early scene in the movie when he's assembling his weapon on the hotel roof made me instantly think of the UNCLE gun...as if this Bond weapon was like the newer big brother of the UNCLE gun.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-04 05:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrua7.livejournal.com
Oh some things just didn't make sense and really they were creating things that in reality just didn't exist, the communicator, and the UNCLE gun with the attachments...it was so unique an idea in the gun world that it created interest. Given there were so many writers and sometimes poor research, things just got glanced over, and yes the pull for less violence deflected attention from the gun.

Yeah that Rosie Grier scene didn't make sense, but it looked good. I guess they wanted to give him something cool looking to do before he just gets eliminated.

You'd have to ask St. Crispins for the definitive answer but I believe Norman Felton didn't want his characters using real bullets at all, as a less violent means for taking down the bad guys. Obviously he didn't get his way on that.

They resorted to some oft times hokey fight scenes where Napoleon and Illya seemed barely able to defend themselves with ordinary fisticuffs...hey what happened to all their karate and judo training? (another inconsistency) Once in a while you'd see a karate chop to the back of the neck. It wasn't until towards the end that there were better fight scenes, with McCallum doing more of his stunts.

As a side bar, oddly enough The Wild Wild West (which overlapped the MFU time period on TV) was eventually cancelled for being too violent, so I guess what they did on MFU was more mild compared to that show.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-04 08:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fiorenza-a.livejournal.com

I remember people being up in arms (no pun intended!) about TV violence well into the eighties. I think maybe home video had something to do with killing those discussions because you could just buy the (initially unrated) vids and take them home - and TV had to compete.

I think that's when the make up for programmes like UN.C.L.E. started to get more serious, a severe beating which left the protagonist with little more damage than a paper cut just wasn't going to cut it (oh dear) any more. They had to fall into line with the more gritty dramas and the film makers.

I also think people just grew up. TV was no longer a new and dangerous commodity - it was just telly. Audiences expected more. If you were in a coma last week, they didn't expect you to be on the trampoline this week. That kind of writing is great for schedulers who can mix and match episodes without worrying about continuity, but I think audiences just became increasingly impatient with it - and with vid they could switch off and watch something else.

In Britain you couldn't buy toy guns for a while and when they did resurface the cap guns and old style projectile shooters didn't make a reappearance. Although all this post-dated U.N.C.L.E., there may, nevertheless, have been an international element at play.
Edited Date: 2017-03-04 08:08 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-05 04:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrua7.livejournal.com
Wasn't during the filming of (I think) the Arabian Affair that David crashed a fork lift and destroyed part of the scenery that his doing his own stunts lessened. And so many times it was obvious that it was his stunt double and not him.

I was recalling him doing some really great fight scenes with flips and wrestling moves in the episode that takes place at a ski chalet...the name escapes me at the moment. That's probably what I was thinking of?

Continuity was definitely an issue but given there were so many different writers doing the scripts, like you say whatever made the writing easier trumped logic.

I recall a conversation with St. Crispins while over her house one night and she told me that Felton's original concept was for them to not resort to bullets to take care of the baddies...or something to that effect. Using sleep darts would make what the MFU did to achieve their goals truly non-lethal. They'd be the ultimate good guys I guess. "D

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-05 01:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrua7.livejournal.com
LOL! I'm with your friend in that I can easily spot David's stuntman because of the hair and/ or wig. It's interesting though about David doing or wanting to do stunts that involved heights, as I recall reading somewhere that when he was doing odd jobs back in England before he got his big break; one of those was painting and apparently he had an accident falling off a ladder and hurting his back. Supposedly after that, he didn't like heights. One never knows what's the truth in early studio days interviews and what's studio spin...

They surely hid the fact that he was blind in his right eye since childhood, and in a post studio days interview when asked about it, his response was "his eye never sort of worked." A round about way to admitting he's blind.

Back in the day stars had to be perfect specimens who could leap tall buildings in a single bound. LOL!

You're right about the baddies using more tranqs than UNCLE does.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-05 02:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrua7.livejournal.com
David's right eye looks normal, but is slightly off compared to the left one as far as position. He once said that because of it he could do a really good mad scientist look.

If you look at how he turns his head when aiming a pistol, or looking to the right in UNCLE or the in the Outer Limits episodes he did, his head is turned farther
an odd angle, and he's actually looking with his left eye instead of what should be his right.

Also the odd little elliptical walk that he does, he admitted was to a hip problem from his childhood.

All these little things added to his quirky movements, that weren't explained until much later in life. Regardless, he's still the coolest guy around back then and now.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-05 02:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] st-crispins.livejournal.com
RE: tranquilizer darts.

This was conceived by Norman Felton, whose politics were decidedly left leaning [he was a socialist] and anti-war [he demonstrated against the Iraq War in his 90s.] There are a number of memos in which Norman constantly reminds the writers and the directors that the gun shoots darts and that these are preferable to bullets. He was often ignored.

Here is why: the noise from the gun was inserted in post-production. It was a thup for a dart and the usual bang for a bullet. Often, they would just insert the usual bullet sound. This annoyed Norman.

Later, there was a push for less violence from NBC which resulted, ironically in more violence although it was more chaotic mayhem. In 4th season, that got serious again and once more Norman reminded them of the darts. Spinner didn't really care, frankly.

But Norman did. He told me he was always disturbed by violence and tried to minimize it in the show.

He was right, too, because one of the reasons that MFU was locked in a vault for ten years and did not enjoy wider syndication was the violence. Parent groups complained about certain shows in the 1970s and MFU was one of them.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-05 02:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] st-crispins.livejournal.com
"Nowhere are we told that the guns carried by Section II agents were developed by UNCLE's own tech divisions. Nowhere are any of its special capabilities described for us in dialogue. The name, the "UNCLE Special" is never once spoken aloud."

That is correct. It was just taken for granted and not given much explanation in the show. I see you did cite my article above so I apologize for citing again in my comments. I just received the comments over email and did not see much of the original post.

The reason the gun was not 'described' as the communicators were is because the latter was a new technology that the audience would have no familiarity with. Solo even explains in 1st season how the communicator [it's the radio/cigarette case at this point] can send the messages through the Telstar satellite. This was cutting edge tech for the time. People more easily accepted it from Trek because it was a SF show set in the future. But MFU was set in the present. Folks sometimes had a hard time wrapping their heads around the communicator.

But the UNCLE Special was recognizable because most were familiar with Bond's P-38, another special gun. The original UNCLE Special was based on the Mauser and later revised but all of this would have been familiar to guys coming off of WW2 and Korea so really, no big deal. They just thought it was very cool so there were articles about it in gun magazines.

Note that in real life, the gun was jerry-rigged and extremely dangerous to the actors. George Lehr has described how they just duct taped the extended magazine and with the silencer, it was possible for the gun to kick back and explode in the actor's hands. Luckily, it never did but they had to be careful loading the charge so that it 'flashed' at the muzzle.

One time early on, however, it boomed so loudly near RV's ear, that he had ringing in it for years.

I know fans make fun of the fact that RV as Solo often squeezes his eyes shut while firing but there was a reason for that. He's been injured by it already and there was the possibility of the gun literally exploding in his hands.

They also paid a fine for manufacturing a weapon [which I think is mentioned in one or more articles.]

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-05 03:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] st-crispins.livejournal.com
it's not necessarily obvious whether the guns were loaded with darts or bullets..


This is true. As I noted above, the sound was inserted post-production in the lab. RV told me that often, he did not know whether he was killing someone or just putting them to sleep.

I think it's too bad that the writers and the directors did not heed Norman's wishes as much as they should have. The sleep dart was really unique at the time and emphasizes MFU's theme of keeping peace in the world and saving the human race.

I could go on about the various metaphors buried in the show ---Thrush as an expression of Ayn Rand's philosophy; Waverly as God and the agents as his guardian angels ---but I'll stop here. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-05 03:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] st-crispins.livejournal.com
RE: head scratcher.

This makes me chuckle because today, we are accustomed to a more coherent creative process in TV similar to film in which the writer/producers exert considerable control over the final product. This is especially true in cable.

Not so back in the day. Most of the producers [including Norman] came either from film or live theater and considered episodic TV junk food for the brain. They did not take it seriously and never expected anyone to ever see an episode more than once [twice at most if it repeated in summer which many didn't] No one conceived of VCRs and DVDs and binging.

MFU was a breakthrough at the time and Norman wrote memos simply AMAZED that the fans were true fanatics. So, they didn't worry a whole lot about continuity and on MFU, the writing staff and directors kept changing. Sam, who did care about continuity, left after first season. The quality really went downhill when Boris Ingster took over as what we would call show runner today. And George Lehr, also someone who kept the continuity, was reassigned to GFU in third season.

So looking at MFU today, it's kind of a mess. When Channel D and the other channels were popular on Yahoogroups [they are practically dead today] there was considerably discussion among us fan writers to straighten out the canon and make sense of it all. You might join those groups if only to peruse the archives which contain literally tens of thousands of posts about subjects like the gun, etc. Nancy Hayes, who is not longer around, is also a biochemist and somewhat of an expert on Russian/Communist culture [she was in the Soviet Union] and wrote a really fantastic Illya.

I was asked to write several canon-based essays on the organization etc. which are also around. And Bill K. [a journalist] was good at keeping track of guest stars, story and production details.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-03-05 03:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] st-crispins.livejournal.com
RE: David McCallum and stunts.

His stuntman Fred Waugh, was an ex-circus performer. Slow those scenes down and you will see how Dmc and Fred used to choreograph Illya's stunts so that DMc begins them and then Fred does the scary part and then it goes back to DMc.

For whatever reason, they never found a good counterpart to RV which is too bad. His doubles are pretty obvious and nowhere near the skill level of Fred.

For the record, RV told me that while he hated being in the water [everyone has heard he was not a good swimmer which was true] DMc was not too thrilled with heights. That's why it's Solo up on that water tower talking to Waverly.
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