I don't believe there is an Uncle thread. I did search but didn't find. If so, apologies in advance. Please delete this thread and relocate comment.
===Ok that's out of the way. Anyway I just bought the complete Uncle TV series - now one of my proudest possessions. Amazon cut the price in half for one day so I pounced. Each of the 4 seasons are neatly packed in an official Uncle briefcase, which is real handy to have, in case you need to go on a mission. Each season has its own extras disc and there are two bonus discs with the set, dedicated to even more extras. Its a very complete set. What's missing though are 7 of the 8 Uncle theatrical releases. (one of the films is included as an extra) The season one extras-disc does though include the original "Solo" colour pilot, which was later heavily edited and transfered to black and white, as The Vulcan Affair, for the series debut, fall 1964. The pilot was also the basis for one of the films, so there are basically three versions of the same story and footage; the original TV pilot, the season-one debut episode and the theatrical film.
For completists, Warner Brothers has just this year, released the 8 theatrical films in one dvd set, along with the complete Girl From Uncle series, which lasted only one season. WB however has released Girl From Uncle as a Part One and Part Two set.
The good news though is that all of Uncle is now available for purchase, if you want to spend the cash. Basically 4 separate purchases are required.
1. The Man From Uncle complete series (1964-1968); Seasons 1-4 including the colour "Solo" pilot. Season One is b&w. Seasons 2-4 are in glorious Metro colour.
2. Complete movie set. All 8 films.
3. The Girl From Uncle, Complete Series Part 1
4. The Girl From Uncle, Complete Series Part 2
Of note about the films. None are original from the TV series. All 8 are two-part TV-show episodes, with additional footage and fresh titles for theatrical release. So if you watch the whole TV series, you've basically seen the films. However the films do have that extra footage and the extra film is a little less PG, not having to pass mustard with the TV censors.
Season two I think is Uncle at its absolute best. I am early into season two, having plouged through all 29 Season One b&w episodes. The colour makes such a difference. The producers clearly have made an effort to splash as much colour on the Uncle palette as possible to fully exploit the new colour tv medium, circa 1965.
We learn from the extras, that Uncle really found its audience off the back of Goldfinger, which was released Dec. 1964. Bondmania fueled Uncle mania. Uncle was one of the biggest shows in TV-land by the time Season One wound down. Both stars were bombarded with fan mail, especiallyMcCallum, who enjoyed a pop-star like status. So season two debuted in glorious colour with no expense spared.
I might even recommend starting with Season Two for maximum initial Uncle impact and then, when finished with Seasons 3 and 4, go back and watch how it all started with Season 1. One can see how the series finds its legs and style as Season One moves along. The show was perfected IMO by the time Season One was done.
The Season One extras disc devotes some quality time discussing how Ian Fleming and Bond were the impetus for the series. Uncle is truly a child of Bond. When Robert Vaughn first read the Uncle pilot script, he remarked it was "Bond on TV."
Producer Norman Felton says that the success of DN on screen is what prompted him to approach Fleming to help create a Bond-like TV show. Felton describes his initial meetings with Fleming. The two met in New York City, but because of Fleming's recent heart problems, Fleming insisted they walk and talk, as he needed the heart exercise. Felton recalls that Fleming spent much of their time together recounting his own intelligence exploits and really didn't offer up much in the way of developing a new series. It was Felton and Sam Rolfe who ultimately created the series, but Fleming did offer up the name Solo. Meanwhile, as Felton explains, when Eon caught wind of the project, they dissuaded Fleming from continuing, preferring he concentrate on Bond. Eon was also concerned that use of the character Solo would conflict with the upcoming GF, which of course included a Solo character. The compromise that was reached was that the name Solo would not be included in the title of the series, hence the dropping of the Pilot title "Solo" in favour of the iconic title that followed. Good move.
Uncle is noted for its awesome rotation of guest stars. It was one of the hippest TV shows for an actor to be on. Each season has its own extras feature detailing that season's notable guest-stars.
Of note for Bond fans: the Season One guest list included both Luciana Paluzzi and Richard Kiel. Paluzzi, fittingly plays a Thrush femme fatale, which foreshadows her TB role, which was just around the corner. Kiel turns up twice. First time in the pilot, in an uncredited henchman's role. He swings a pipe at Solo and that's it but its definitely Kiel. Kiel turns up later in another episode; this time in a meatier henchmen's role, in which he also has a few lines and a full credit. Kiel was battling the agents from Uncle long before he battled James Bond.
Season One also features an episode in which Shatner and Nimoy first appeared on screen together. The same episode also includes the future Colonel Klink, Werner Klemperer. Other notables that turn up in the first season; Get Smart's Babara Feldon, Klink's Hogan's Heroes' sidekick, John Banner (Sargeant Schultz), Trek's James Doohan, Batman's Cesar Romero (the Joker) and Yvonne Craig (Batgirl), Sharon Tate, Robert Culp, Eddie Albert, Carol O'Connor, Ricardo Montalban and a host of others.
The Uncle-girls are of course are a feast for the eyes. Not only the weekly guest star but also the female agents that populate the HQ and the Thrush enemy-agent ranks. TV just does not get any better than Uncle. Actually the Avengers gets equal props. The two shows are 1 and 1A IMO.
Side note on the Avengers. Even though the Avengers, first hit the airways in 1961, a year before DN, the show is still very much a child of Bond. The TV producers, readily admit to being influenced by Fleming's books and sagely forecast the Bond driven spy-mania that would flourish in the 1960's. The Avengers was their response. The Avengers found its style in its second season, post DN, when Steed's gentleman spy took over as the main focus, from Ian Hendry's doctor-detective, David Keel. We also meet Honor Blackman's glamourous, Bond-girlish, Steed partner, Cathy Gale in the second season and the Avengers was off and running.
Full rundown on Uncle's second season, when I'm done with it. Although I may take my time. It is 30 episodes and like a premium vintage, it should be savoured. Season 2, I think is Uncle at peak.
More Fleming Uncle background copied from wiki
Though executive producer Norman Felton and consultant Ian Fleming had conceived the character of Napoleon Solo, it was producer Sam Rolfe that created the U.N.C.L.E. hierarchy. Unlike nationalistic organizations like the CIA and James Bond's MI6, U.N.C.L.E. was a global organization of agents from many countries and cultures. The character of Illya Kuryakin was created by Rolfe as just such an U.N.C.L.E. agent, one from the Soviet Union.
Also from Wiki
the show was originally titled Ian Fleming's Solo and later just Solo. However, in February 1964 a law firm representing James Bond movie producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli sent a cease-and-desist letter demanding an immediate end to the use of Fleming’s name in connection with the planned Solo series, and an end to all use of the name and character "Solo", "Napoleon Solo" and "Mr. Solo". At that time filming was underway for the Bond movie Goldfinger, where Martin Benson was playing a supporting character named "Mr. Solo". The claim was the name "Solo" had already been sold to them by Fleming, and Fleming could not again use it. Within five days Fleming had signed an affidavit that nothing in the Solo pilot infringed on any of his Bond characters, but the threat of continued legal action resulted in a settlement where the character name of Napoleon Solo could be kept, but the title of the show had to change.