Open Channel D…2012 brings a new Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Open Channel D…2012 brings a new Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Sometimes, it amazes me how a super popular Baby Boomer show can be completely out of the consciousness of New Millenials (basically, people born in the 1980s, 1990s, and maybe 2000s).

It wasn’t cool in the 1970s to like 1940s culture. In the 2010s, though, it’s fine to like the 1980s (and farther back). That’s due, in part, to the availability of that older pop culture, and definitely, digital is part of that (along with genre-TV channels, and multiple ways to consume culture).

I work with people of a lot of ages, and I don’t mind making references that are dated…that’s kind of endearing. I can count on people (even New Millenials) getting a Gilligan’s Island reference, or the original Star Trek, of Leave it to Beaver).

Since I teach technical stuff to medical people, I deal with a lot of acronyms. In my situation, you want to make jokes about your geekiness, to disarm that thought (which they are going to have) that you don’t understand non-technical people. I tell them (again, jokingly) not to ask me for a website address, because what I hear in my head is “hyptertext transfer protocol colon whack whack”… I also tell them I did it as a kid. I look around the room to size up the generations a bit, and ask who knows The Man from U.N.C.L.E. I’ll get nodding heads from the Boomers, blank looks from the New Millenials.

I tell them I knew that it was the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. I tell them the bad guys were THRUSH: Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and Subjugation of Humanity…and how they later became Microsoft. 🙂 Undesirables in that scenario, I tell them, are Mac users. I just always thought that sounded like a great name for Microsoft.

I’m not 100 percent sure why there isn’t more awareness of Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin. There was a reunion TV movie in 1983 (although the New Millenials were at best toddlers at that point), and one of the stars (David McCallum) is on the highly rated NCIS.

I suggested recently that1960s afficionado Johnny Depp could play Napoleon Solo…and David McCallum could play the boss, Mr. Waverly, who was played by Leo G. Carroll in the original series.

So, I was both pleased and surprised to read a story that George Clooney was dropping out of a Man from U.N.C.L.E. movie due to back issues (which meant it was filming now or soon).

It turns out its being directed by Steve Soderbergh (Clooney’s Ocean’s 11 movies, among other things). It’s being co-written by Scott Z. Burns, who wrote Contagion and The Bourne Ultimatum.

So, what would be part of a Man from U.N.C.L.E. movie?

Napoleon Solo is an American (although Robert Vaughn always seemed a bit British) secret agent, but the agency for which he works is global. He is partnered in the original by Ilya Kuryakin, a Russian agent (played by Scottish David McCallum. While Ilya wasn’t originally intended to be a partner, he hit immediately with audiences. That might have been a surprised…remember, the Russians were the bad guys at the time. To have that same impact, I suppose if it’s set today, Napoleon Solo could partner with an agent from the other side of the “War on Terror”, but I doubt they’ll do that.

Their boss was Mr. Waverly, and I expect him to return (although they could play with that role…I thought about a woman playing it, but that’s just too much like M in the new James Bond…and Soderbergh hasn’t minded doing testosterone driven movies).

They had special communicators, most famously a pen. If this was set contemporaneously, that wouldn’t be much over a SmartPhone, of course.

They also had a special gun…I expect we’d see that back.

I’m sure there’d be some reference to the bongo-infused Jerry Goldsmith score.

The episodes were also titled the “Such and Such Affair”, so I think we’ll hear that (even unofficially).

Other things? Maybe an oblique reference to April Dancer, the main character in the spin-off series, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. They may also get into the secret headquarters through a tailor shop.

Now, what about the tone? That’s a tough one. It startad out more serious, got campy, and got serious again. That’s often the tricky part with doing movies based on successful TV series…the series aren’t static while they are broadcast, and it can be tough to pick the right pieces.

One ancillary effect I’d like to see is the e-book publication of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. novels, including the unpublished The Final Affair. That novel has been out in fandom for a while, but I haven’t read it. I enjoyed the ones I have in paperback.

If you know the Man from U.N.C.L.E., how would you replace Clooney? Who should play Ilya (and I’m presuming they’ll go that way)? Feel free to let me know.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


18 Responses to “Open Channel D…2012 brings a new Man from U.N.C.L.E.”

  1. RavenWest Says:

    A novel for Baby Boomers, fans of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
    and anyone who has ever attended a high school reunion!

    Undercover Reunion

    A New Novel by Best-Selling Author Raven West

    Two lifelong girlfriends find their childhood game of playing spies from a 60s TV show becomes all too real when they attend their 30th high school reunion and are recruited by the same organization to thwart a former schoolmate’s plan for worldwide domination

    If you’re tired of books about vampires, zombies and teenage angst, and want a good solid story then Undercover Reunion is what you’re been waiting for! Written by a Baby Boomer for our generation, the main characters are four average middle-aged former high school classmates who become involved in an international web of espionage and intrigue.

    Trapped in a concrete room beneath the headquarters of an international crime organization, four middle-aged high school classmates find themselves caught in a web of espionage and intrigue that threatens their lives and those of everyone they know.

    Although their individual lives had taken them on very diverse paths, they all share the unfortunate common denominator of possessing a diploma from Abbeyville High School and being caught in the insidious web of Wyatt Gaynes.

    Charles Haussman – The computer programmer whose business went south after the crash and was desperate for money, but battering his children’s future came at a very high price.

    Eric Kramer – The Wall Street Journal reporter who realized much too late that his Pulitzer Prize had been a well orchestrated hoax, and now had to do whatever he was told to not be exposed.

    Kathleen Conner O’Brien – The PTA church-going mom, wife of a state senator who always believed there was good in everyone, until she discovered her loving husband was deep in the pocket of the man who had pointed a .45 at her head.

    Melanie Tyler – The successful voice-over actress who thought she was over her high school crush, until he held her in his arms and reignited a 30- year- old inferno in her soul.

    When the undercover agents first approached Melanie and Kathleen the night of their 30th high school reunion party, the women could never have imagined that the innocent television spy show game they had played against Eric and Charles nearly four decades ago would become a real life confrontation with one of the most insidious criminal minds of their generation.


    Here’s what readers are saying –

    Many U.N.C.L.E. fans of the sixties imagined themselves helping U.N.C.L.E. if this was you, you will enjoy this new novel. Raven West has caught the spirit of ‘the things the dreams of U.N.C.L.E. fans all over the world consist of’. Take yourselves into the world of U.N.C.L.E. fantasies and dream along with Kate and Mel as they help the real U.N.C.L.E. guys thwart a much-too-real evil adversary who was a former classmate.

    Bridget Calvert (Honorary Editor of ‘ The Network’)


    I just finished Undercover Reunion. I instantly fell in love with all the characters. Enough information was given to let me know what was going on and it kept me interested. The back story about their childhood playing UNCLE spies was fun. The jokes fit the personalities of the people and had me laughing as I read it.


    In print on Amazon

    and in all ebook formats on Smashwords.

    Read more on Raven West’s website:

  2. richtea Says:

    I think UNCLE could work as a movie as long as they didn’t camp it up too much…Clooney was probably too old for Solo anyway but it might of worked with say Jude Law as Kuryakin??, perhaps someone like ‘Heroes’ Adrian Pasdar who is quite Vaughn-ish in looks and voice alongside Jonathan Rhys Meyers(??) with Albert Finney as Waverley…and don’t modernise it, purposely give it that kitsch 60’s look that we all remember so well, especially all those gorgeous UNCLE girls in their pencil skirts after all it works welle nough on TV’s ‘MadMen’

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, richtea!

      I can see it with Adrian Pasdar…good suggestion. 🙂 I’m not quite sure he’s suave enough, though. Suave isn’t in big demand in today’s Hollywood, I’d say, so it’s tough to find that. Ilya really needs that charisma and charm…not quite sure.

      Let me throw out a few names…

      Napoleon Solo

      Michael Weatherly (that would make an interesting connection)
      James McAvoy
      Josh Duhamel

      Ilya Kuryakin

      Daniel Radcliffe
      Simon Baker

      Mr. Waverly

      JK Simmons
      Geoffrey Rush

  3. Mark Scheur Says:

    I was a big fan of the series even though I was about 8 at the time. Recently I bought the DVD Box set. As far as the cast—How about Kyle Maclachlan and Bill Pullman in the main roles. Maybe Fred Thompson as Mr. Waverly. I just hope the movie stays as a drama…..Look what was done to the Wild Wild West…..Thank You! Mark

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Mark!

      Yes, I had the Man from U.N.C.L.E. toy attache case. 🙂

      Kyle Maclachlan’s an interesting choice. I’m not sure if I see Bill Pullman as either Ilya or Napoleon Solo, though. Fred Thompson’s a good possibility…the offscreen element for him would give an interesting context.

  4. george senda Says:

    why not robert vaughn as the head of uncle ?
    with the passage of time, solo would have risen upwards in the organization and vaughn while much older would be far superior to someone subbing for waverly

    the problem with casting is the chemistry between the characters and getting someone to produce and direct it who gets what the original show meant.

    we’ve seen too many bad re-union movies that just didn’t make it because what was missing was the chemistry and the writing

    and officially, t.h.r.u.s.h stands for nothing.

    the late david mcdaniel got norman felton to appoint ME as the head of t.h.r.u.s.h for the state of Nevada and I KNOW the difference.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, george!

      Yes, I think Robert Vaughn is a good suggestion, particularly if it was to be contemporary (giving the passage of time you suggest). You think Ilya is less likely to have been promoted in the same way?

      I take the definition of T.H.R.U.S.H. from McDaniel’s books…I have paperbacks of some of those. That’s just my recollection of it, and it makes the story work in class. 🙂

      By the way, you put me in a bit of a quandary. If you are the head of T.H.R.U.S.H., you should certainly know the meaning (or lack thereof); but if you are the head of T.H.R.U.S.H., would it be wise for me to accept what you say, given the nature of the organization? 😉

  5. RavenWest Says:

    For Bufo and all other ebook fans, “Undercover Reunion” has just been re-released on Amazon with a NEW COVER in print and Kindle and also on all other digital formats on

    To celebrate this event, I’m offering a 50% DISCOUNT off the retail download price of $2.99. Go to and enter coupon code AN68P.

    Please feel free to write a review and post it to Amazon and Smashwords!

    • george senda Says:

      what about a discount for those of us who are still ” old school ” and can’t do ebooks yet ?

      will buy the book next month as we used to play being u.n.c.l.e. agents way back when.

      even then I had to ” volunteer ” to be the t.h.r.u.s.h agent as everyone wanted to be napoleon or illya

      before that kids took their remco bazookas and pretended to be sgt saunders from combat

      being of German ancestry, I always accepted taking up the role of the German soldaten. they didn’t like it when I cheated one day because I had bought 3 bazookas and had extra ammo to go on the attack ! it was even more fun in the winter when we had snow forts and snowballs and when I came up with using very cold water balloons.

      even then, an eeevil streak would come out.

      I won too which really made them mad.


      I prefer books as opposed to reading them on an ebook or computer, partly because if the power goes out ( as happens several times a year where I live ) I can still read by flashlight, lantern, battery candle, etc.

      this is why I still buy cds and now blue ray, becuase when power goes out, you have big expensive useless paperweights

      and I like my books, though I keep running out of shelf space and some books don’t take well to e format, like my Jane’s Encylopedia of Aviation which is on the shelf next to all the dictionaries and thesaurases and the like to the left of my Mac.

      5 years ago I needed a hot pot of tea and the power went out so … I went outside and boiled a pot of hot water on my bbq. It was 1:30 am and took about 5 minutes. some idiot called the cops because the bbq was putting out smoke. they came and I asked them if it was illegal to cook water ? they said no and left.

      where I live now is downtown and when power goes out, it can be dark for 2-4 blocks one way and power on across the creek behind my building. periodically all of downtown goes out about 4-6 times a year. makes me wonder why the businesses and city doesn’t go solar though we just had a new condo complex that is all solar powered and green oriented.

      Sat there with a snuggie on and read by lantern light for about an hour.

      somewhere in the western united states …

      • RavenWest Says:

        I am in complete agreement with you on ebooks. I don’t own a nook or a kindle myself, but that seems to be the wave of the future! Amazon doesn’t have any way that I know of to put in discounts on their paperbacks, sorry. Can’t wait to read your review!!

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, George!

        I am an inveterate booklover, with something like ten thousand paperbooks on shelves in my homes, and I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager.

        I greatly prefer reading my books in e-book form.

        The issue of the power going out is not a big one for reflective screen devices, like the Kindle (this doesn’t apply to the Kindle Fire). The battery charge life is typically good for weeks, perhaps months, if you don’t go on the internet. You read them be light reflecting off them, the same way you are reading your paperbooks.

        In fact, the Kindle Paperwhite provides its own illumination, and should still last for weeks, reading a couple of hours a day. The light is directed at the words (not your eyes), so it wouldn’t be much good for lighting a room…but it might work long after you’d run out of flashlight battery. 🙂

        In natural disasters, I have seen e-mails from people days after the power was out…sent on their Kindles (the ones that connect to 3G, like a cellphone does). It was their only good way to communicate with the outside world, in some cases.

        If I do need to charge a device, I have an inverter in the car. I can plug a regular wall plug into the inverter, and charge it from the car’s battery.

        I didn’t think I would like e-books before I got my first EBR (E-Book Reader): I was wrong. My experience has been that the more someone loves books, the more they love e-books.

        I write about e-books and publishing in my most popular blog, I Love My Kindle:

        I’ve been hoping someone would legally issue the McDaniel U.N.C.L.E. books in e-book, but that can be complicated.

  6. george senda Says:

    even t.h.r.u.s.h. has its own kind of integrity.

    we NEVER lie about our goals and aims.

    and continually monitor the activities of u.n.c.l.e. and its hired assassins

    norman felton said in a radio interview that despite dave’s creation of what t.h.r.u.s.h was supposed to stand for, t.h.r.u.s.h. never had an explanation

    of course, all of that could be part of OUR disinformation campaign, couldn’t it ?

    take a look at my ebay site piersonassociates1 and see my take on the hierarchy. I think you’ll like it.

    closing channels ( and yes, t.h.r.u.s.h. used them on the show too )

  7. george senda Says:

    Has anyone given any thought to what the job of U.N.C.L.E. would be in today’s world ?

    47 years ago was a simpler world.

    Now we see peril at every turn and seemingly criminality and terror everywhere.

    One would think that U.N.C.L.E. would be overwhelmed.

    Of course, that would mean even more opportunities for T.H.R.U.S.H. to succeed, wouldn’t it ?

    And the nom de plume of the author Raven West SOUNDS like it should be one of a female U.N.C.L.E. agent that we never got to hear about.

    She even looks like what an older agent would look like. I can just visualize her in the fashions of the 1960’s ala Mrs. Peel etc.

    After all, April Dancer couldn’t be everywhere, could she ?

    I don’t do ebooks yet until I buy an Ipad next year, but I’m getting ready. Just got my new wireless modem yesterday because my old one died after 9 years.

    From somewhere in the Western United States …

  8. george senda Says:

    Officially T.H.R.U.S.H. had no official meaning and that was confirmed by both Norman Felton & Sam Rolfe. There were about 30-50 names for the criminal nemesis that U.N.C.L.E. would be fighting in the pilot. – David McDaniel & the late Dean and Shirley Dickensheet came up with the history of T.H.R.U.S.H. and David came up with the Hierarchy designation. I seem to recall that there was a radio interview where Felton said flatly that T.H.R.U.S.H. stood for nothing and David called in and gave the name that T.H.R.U.S.H. is known for today. I would expect that MGM or Sony still holds the rights to U.N.C.L.E. & so one would have to get clearance to do ebooks of the novels from them. Or one could find out from the most recent comic books whom they dealt with to do U.N.C.L.E. comics. – I am soooo tired of having to type these periods every time I have to type U.N.C.L.E. or T.H.R.U.S.H. it must have been one of T.H.R.U.S.H.’S more successful efforts to drive people mad eventually. David was a friend of mine and I miss him a lot. — I have several T.H.R.U.S.H. badges including a nice gold, black and white one that I wear on my suit lapel on special occasions. Most people don’t recall the symbol for T.H.R.U.S.H. but the times I have worn an U.N.C.L.E. shirt in my infiltration exercises, people stop me and invariably say ” Hey, that was one of my favorite shows or ” I remember that show. It was great ! ”

    U.N.C.L.E. fans are everywhere & they better do a movie soon before all us old codgers from the ’50’s and ’60’s hang up our id badges and shuffle off to the old spies home.

    Closing Channel L.

    ( ever wonder just how many channels were mentioned in the show ? I know of at least 4 and there were probably more – U.N.C.L.E. trivia contest, anyone ? )

    From somewhere in the Western United States

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, george!

      The argument I hear is that, since the McDaniel books were authorized tie-ins, the acronym definition can be considered canonical (even if designated outside the TV series), but that’s just a technical discussion about classification. 🙂

      The Man from U.N.C.L.E. remake does not have a release date at this point, I believe, but does have some cast and a director and screenwriter announced:

      The cast (which could change) has Henry Cavill (Superman) as Napoleon Solo and Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger) as Ilya Kuryakin.

      The 2014 schedule is already somewhat crowded, but I would think 2015 is possible.

      You might also want to go to this Amazon

      Kindle Worlds thread

      and let them know if you would be interested in them trying to license U.N.C.L.E. for their “authorized fan fiction” hybrid. It’s already been mentioned there a couple of times, and Amazon might have the resources to make it happen. If they did, I might consider writing something myself, although some authors don’t like the licensing agreement.

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