Tag Archives: Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Archer!

The DVD for the first season of Archer is here!

Welcome to the world of Sterling Archer, the cartoon intersection of Maxwell Smart and…probably Arrested Development‘s hapless Gob Bluth. Voiced by the wonderful H. Jon Benjamin, Archer drinks, swears and screws his way through the spy world much to the chagrin of everyone at ISIS, the international (lack of) intelligence agency where he works.

Where Man From U.N.C.L.E. poked fun at the James Bond legacy, Archer completely disembowels it. Sarcastic, rude and laugh-out-loud funny, Archer is all kinds of wrong and would probably be offensive in lesser hands, but the writing is so good that they get away with it.

Video: Archer Trailer

Archer boats great writing and pitch-perfect voice acting from the entire cast, which features Judy Greer, Chris Parnell, Aisha Tyler and Jessica Walter all but channeling her frustrated and sarcastic mother role from Arrested Development…as Archer’s mother and his boss.

I’ve seen the episodes on TV and was hoping for a wealth of bonus features on the DVD but it’s a pretty bare bones affair. All ten episodes are here, plus a few bonus clips and a “lost pilot” episode (don’t let anyone spoil that for you) plus promos episodes for two other FX series, The League and Louie.

But the price is low, and there are so many nested in-jokes and running gags that each episode demands multiple viewings. Normally I’d expect a show like this to air on Adult Swim, but FX has proven to be a daring channel in both comedy and drama. Season two starts January 27th, so get this and get caught up!

Archer official website at FX

Archer will shake you up *and* stir you up.

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Re-Opening Channel D

The Last of the Magnificent Seven

The Last of the Magnificent Seven

When I was young, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was a smash hit. Boys wanted to be like Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin; suave and cool secret agents who could dazzle the ladies and get the best of the bad guys (or was that the  other way around?) Girls just wanted Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, the handsome actors who portrayed those gadget-touting hipsters. It was one of many important lessons I’d learn over the years about women and how they think. But it was also an opportunity to discover Robert Vaughn, who has led a fascinating life far beyond his accomplishments as a television and film star.

Vaughn’s book A Fortunate Life is more of a memoir than an autobiography; he does not dwell on his childhood and adolescence for chapters on end nor does he make his hit television show the focus of his book. In fact, Vaughn takes us through a series of events and relationships as a confidante where the focus is seeing through his eyes rather than looking at him. It’s a subtle but clever move that makes for a vastly entertaining read (I devoured it in one sitting) aided by the fact that Vaughn is one of the most intelligent and erudite actors on the planet. Being witty as hell doesn’t hurt, either.

The book came out late last year and I finally made time to get a copy this weekend; for some reason I felt compelled to do so immediately. As a child of the times, I admit I enjoyed reading anecdotes about his contemporaries like James Coburn and Steve McQueen, but I was spellbound by his recollections of the political climate. Vaughn was the first actor to speak out publicly against the Vietnam War, and was an activist who ran the gamut from stumping for candidates to debating William F Buckley on hostile ground (no small feat, Buckley regularly ate opponents for breakfast). 

His close relationship with Robert F. Kennedy and the subsequent tragedy brought back vivid memories for me, having lived through the times.  After JFK and Martin Luther King were felled by assassins, many felt RFK was the last hope for America, and his Presidential campaign radiated even more fervor, optimism and hope that Obama brought to the 2008 election. When he was gunned down after the California primary, the youth of America was numb. Vaughn has very strong opinions about what really happened that night.

I mentioned that Vaughn is whip-smart. Few know that his Doctoral thesis was written about Joseph McCarthy and the Red Scare era in Hollywood, and later published under the title Only Victims. I read the book last year while reseaching the Hollywood Blacklist, as it’s considered one of the definitive works on the subject and is a staple at many law schools. Vaughn is thorough but never condescending, a trait echoed in his new book as well.

Vaughn has always been a “working actor”, which loosely translated means he’s got a few stinkers on his resume over the years. Television was exploding when he was breaking into the business, and like many actors of his generation he cut his teeth playing guest roles on dozens of shows. He has a short-lived series prior to UNCLE called The Lieutenant and most recently has come full circle playing a con artist in the British series Hustle. But he’s also etched several landmark film performances into history, from The Magnificent Seven to Bullitt to The Bridge at Remagen. I just grabbed the DVD of The Young Philadelphians so I can watch it tonight; a young Vaughn was nominated for Best Supporting Actor (he lost to Hugh Griffith from Ben Hur) playing opposite Paul Newman.

I’ve read a few interviews with Robert Vaughn over the years and he seems like a charming, witty and intelligent man. That’s what you’ll think, too, when you read this book. Enjoy!

Still the coolest dude in the room at 76 years young

Still the coolest dude in the room at 76 years young

A recent BBC interview to promote the book.

Robert Vaughn’s filmography at IMDB.com

Get your Man From U.N.C.L.E. fix with the complete DVD set and a book about the series.

Also check out Hustle The Avengers meets Oceans 11

man from uncle

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