carabele: (Default)
...was one I've never heard discussed (probably because there are less Napoleon fans overall and particularly so on LJ).

When Lisa Donato says that the painting, the Casilian Woman, that had once belonged to her family was all that was left of a once large estate, explaining the taxes and death duties and the like had sapped the rest away, Napoleon's remark is "Yes, I know." Hmmm... He knows, huh? Sounds to me like Napoleon's family did, at least at some point and seemingly within his own range of personal memory, have wealth that wound up being "eaten away" by the same things as that of Lisa Donato's family.

I've always held that a man who had one grandfather who was an ambassador and the other who was an admiral had to come from some sort of privileged background. Those just aren't positions held by the poor. But others point to the remark Solo makes in BRAIN-KILLERS about understanding about needing money for the basics of life as indicating he had to come from a poor background.

The remark here seems to reconcile the two ideas: privileged background but lost inheritance from the vagaries of taxes and death duties and maybe unpaid debts of the grandparents, etc. Yet it seems likely he experienced at least some time growing up with money, since he was well aware what would result in a "hemorraging" of that money.

Of course we'll never know what the writers intended (if anything, since every single writer may have had their own private ideas of the guys' backgrounds, ideas that more than likely went unshared and definitely undocumented). Still, I have to say that this comment is just as intriguing with regard to Napoleon's status with regard to wealth and privilege as the one in BRAIN-KILLERS. More so in my opinion.

Of course, I've created my own background for Solo in my stories that works for me and I hope others find it believable as well. But honestly that remark in RE-COLLECTORS really made me nod my head and say, "Yes, that fits in with the other remark in BRAIN-KILLERS quite nicely."
carabele: (Default)

This post will likely turn out a bit rambling, but I just rewatched ALEXANDER THE GREATER (both parts) tonight and a whole bunch of things struck me.

I have to say right-off that this isn't one of my favorite episodes, though I always do enjoy watching it.  Yet how close it road the line toward camp really hit me tonight.  Don't get me wrong: it's done well and it works.  (Unlike the many failed attempts at camp during Season 3.)  Still, one has to admit the entire premise is rather silly with this guy thinking that breaking "moral laws" made him someone who could conquer the world like Alexander the Great.  Since when were those two things even remotely related?  [chuckle]  And the bits in the tomb are really over-the-top theatrical.  Though as always I love Napoleon's dauntless optimism throughout.

As a couple of for instances of that: when he is up against the big, muscular Ingo and Illya calls on the communicator with news on Tracey being taken out of the spa by Alexander's heavies, Napoleon's response of "I'll likely be busy here for a while so you go ahead."  No calls for assistance; no "I got this big gorilla trying to kill me" expletives; just a simple "I'll likely be busy for a while."  [chuckle]  So nonchalant Napoleon!  (Even that he bothers answering the communicator at that moment is nonchalant!)  And in the tomb when he is under that swinging scimitar and Tracey and Illya are tied up over that bottomless pit, Illya's comment is "It's no use" while Napoleon's response to Tracey's question of "What do we do now?" is "Well, the best we can."

I just love this irrepressibleness in Napoleon.  Get him down even when the odds are stacked against him?  Nah, no way.  He'll always have a quip and just as likely a plan.  That's so much of what appealed to me in his character back when the show first aired and still what makes the character enduringly special to me.

About a week ago I rewatched GAZEBO IN THE MAZE.  Watching ALEXANDER THE GREATER tonight did set me thinking that, though the two episodes used setups that were in some ways similar (two rogue madman who thought they should be ruling a good portion of the world and set about doing that in nonconventional ways) and used environments that were just as over-the-top (the tomb in ALEXANDER and the medieval dungeon in GAZEBO) GAZEBO still retained a more realistic edge.  I mean in ALEXANDER we have pendulum scimitars and bottomless pits, while in GAZEBO we have racks, hot irons and wolves.  No question which one tends more toward theatrical camp.  Both work, but in many ways these two episodes bespoke the changes that came about in MFU between Season 1 and Season 2.

Another thing I noticed (I did say this post would be rambling, didn't I?  [chuckle]): Napoleon's office in ALEXANDER does make it apparent that the room used in the beginning (and a little later) in BOW-WOW is indeed Napoleon's office as well.  The two rooms are actually very similar, though in ALEXANDER it has been "glammed up".  Still, there are banks of computers in his office in both eps  (though they set more "out-of-the-way" in ALEXANDER) and that leatherette chase lounge type thing that Napoleon was lying on in BOW-WOW while Sarah "exercised" his bad leg was indeed there in his office in ALEXANDER (though it was now pushed against a far wall rather than sitting out in the open).  And just as a sidebar, there is indeed only one desk in that office.

One final note: It's in this episode where it becomes noticeable how much the character of Illya was being "de-Russianized" in the series.  I mean the will gas that Alexander stole was part of a top-secret U.S. military biological weapons research project.  BIOLOGICAL WEAPONRY being created by the U.S. military and supposedly Soviet Illya (he certainly came across as actively Soviet in NEPTUNE in Season 1) doesn't even blink an eye at the revelation.  No, of course he wouldn't go into a tirade about it or anything.  He was a professional.  But I expected maybe something (disapproval? discomfort?) to be hinted in his facial expression when this is revealed.  Instead he just looks very blase about the whole deal.

Oh, and a little sidebar: Could U.N.C.L.E.'s lab and research folks REALLY be incompetent enough not to realize that the stone tablet found from where the nerve gas was taken was a piece of recently quarried stone?  I mean Napoleon recognized the composition of the stone as being from Alexander's quarry just by sniffing and tasting some other stone from that quarry.  So professional lab folks wouldn't have realized the same?  Waverly should fire all the lab guys that worked on researching that tablet!  [chuckle]

Okay, I'm now finished rambling for tonight.  [grin]
carabele: (Default)

Been meaning to write this little review for awhile, but a computer on its last legs along with being really busy family-wise kept me from getting it posted.

Now, armed with a beautiful new computer with which to browse the internet and a whole bunch of family birthdays by the board for another year, I thought I would just make a somewhat belated post.

I rewatched this episode a few weeks ago and I have to say Brother Love was one of the most effective villains in any MFU episode.  Solid Ice in the veins and facile warmth at the skin.  A manipulator extraordinaire.

This episode is one I always enjoy as Napoleon is really shown as a competent agent throughout.  And the scene where he has the scientist use one of his door-opening explosive charges to free his wrists from their wrapping in wire always makes me subconsciously cringe.  Man, talk about being able to endure pain.

The innocent in this one isn't annoying and the plot works.  But it is the Machievellian Brother Love who shines throughout.  He can charm society matrons one minute, self-righteously declare himself saner than the rest of humanity while peppering his argument with quotes from great literature the next, and coolly arrange the "execution" of three people (via a bomb while they are helplessly bound in a locked room) the third.  And Eddie Albert played it all to precise pitch.

And Napoleon proves the man's perfect foil: someone equally able to charm and manipulate, as well as turn his mind to just as Machievellian a design when required, yet operating from a very different (and opposing) set of values.  Wonderful juxtaposition between the hero and the villain in this one to be sure.  Thoroughly, thoroughly entertaining to watch.

carabele: (Default)

...and was struck anew at how sweet Napoleon really was with Mandy, understanding her want of excitement and trying that little ploy to give her some.  (And he never flirts with her in the episode, though she gives him the perfect opening to do so when she suggests using her vacation time to be in Rio at the same time he will be there on a mission.  Still, he doesn't rise to that bait and just treats her like a friend -- a somewhat frustrating friend, but still a friend.)

Yes, Napoleon's little gambit wasn't the wisest thing to do.  But then again he didn't expect Mandy to get a hold of the microdot.  (And why didn't that U.N.C.L.E. microdot creator ask for any kind of confirmation that she was indeed the courier before handing that over to her?  Rather bad U.N.C.L.E. policy there.)  Napoleon just thought she would go to the tobacco shop and get the pipe tobacco for Waverly, innocently thinking all the time that she was doing something secret agenty though she was in reality perfectly safe.  That the itch would be scratched, so to speak.

And the bravado with firing the shot with his hands handcuffed behind him and only a mirror and a prayer to guide the shot: so Napoleon.  And his own amazed wonder at his success afterwards: also sweet.

I also have to note here that, like in most of the first season episodes, many of the photographic choices in this episode were simply exquisite.  I was particularly impressed in the fight scene in the garage where the Thrush grabs that blow torch and we see the flame reflected in Napoleon's eyes with a definite undercurrent of fear, and then later -- when the positions are literally reversed as Napoleon is holding the lighter up to the guy after dousing him with gasoline -- how we again see the flame reflected in Napoleon's eyes only now with an expression of sheer menace there.  Brilliantly filmed.

I love this episode and I love the understanding side of Napoleon it so reveals.

Oh, and we also see in this episode that Napoleon's office is his own, not shared with Illya.  We also see this in several other episodes as well: ALEXANDER THE GREATER and another when he is going over paperwork with his secretary while Illya is out on a mission -- that was the one where he is investigating what happens to "retired" lower-echelon Thrush, but the name of the episode is escaping me at the moment.  So presumably both he and Illya have their own offices.  I have to say this makes more sense to me since Napoleon is CEA and likely would have to hold meetings with various Section II agents going out on missions or reporting back on them (as well as give performance reviews); thus making a shared office a real inconvenience.


carabele: (Default) struck me while watching HONG KONG SHILLING again tonight that particular mission could well have raised some... contrary thoughts for Illya.

Though of course having military secrets sold to the highest bidder would be something he wouldn't want to see happen necessarily, the secrets in question were particularly American and NATO military secrets.  As a Soviet, how did he feel about having to protect those?  And really weren't those folks bidding on those secrets simply spies themselves?  Thrush isn't ever mentioned as being part of this operation.

I do think Illya had a definite loyalty to his native land.  I do think he was -- as I noted in a Canteen discussion -- a good communist but not a blind communist.  However, protecting those military secrets detailed in HONG KONG SHILLING kind of crossed the line between protecting humanity and "saving the world" to protecting the military machine of the U.S. and its allies.   I can imagine that being frustrating for him.

It's an intriguing question to ponder.  And I did notice that at the end he hands the shilling, which is supposedly made of the same material as the nosecones of U.S. missiles, to Napoleon with the comment: "A souvenir of Hong Kong.  Take it home to your family."  Perhaps it can be interpreted that he didn't want to be responsible in the end for restoring the coin to the hands of the U.S. military?  And that by "your family" he really meant the United States government?

What do others think? 
carabele: (Default)

During the long weekend last week I had plans cancelled because my daughter-in-law got a flu bug and thus my son and his family weren't able to participate in our planned activities.  Since they weren't something I wanted to do alone, I just stayed at home and chilled.

Happily this gave me plenty of time to rewatch some more Season 1 MFU episodes:  YELLOW SCARF; MAD, MAD TEA PARTY; and SECRET SCEPTRE.  Now the first two of these I have always tremendously enjoyed and did again, even noting some things I had more or less overlooked before.  SECRET SCEPTRE, however, has never been one of my favorites.  Yet with this viewing I found myself appreciating it much more.

One of the things that really kind of struck me in it though was Illya's inane (and sorry, Illya gals, but it was inane) answer to Morgan's question about why he had tagged along with Napoleon.  You know the line: "It is inevitable; a man must die a little every day."  Hearing it actually made me chuckle it was so obviously crafted by the writers to sound "mysterious".

As we all know, Illya had lots of those mysterious-crafted lines during the series.  Some of them really fit the moment perfectly (like the "A man is never free who has to work for a living, but I'm available" one), and some of them were just... well, stuff and nonsense, though I mean that in a good way.  It was part of the character of Illya to attempt to be always inscrutable, sometimes to no more point other than that.

So....  in that vein (and remember this is all in fun) I was coming up in my head with various "inscrutable" responses Illya might make to various comments or questions.  These are under the cut for folks who want to play along.  [grin]

A little bit of quirky fun... )
carabele: (Default)

...and was totally floored.  It's a great episode, but more than that.  What floored me was how dangerous and intelligent and yet charming Napoleon comes off through every scene.  And how his softer side is shown so eloquently in his relationship with Chris.

And as well how stunningly gorgeous Napoleon looked in just every frame of that episode.

Truly wonderful stuff to ponder on a Friday!