The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and the Video Real Estate Affair | Street Jazz

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and the Video Real Estate Affair

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"We wish to thank the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement, without whose assistance this program would not have been possible." - from closing credits of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. television series.

Many years ago, when I was just a young sprig of a lad, there were these things called the closing credits following television programs - similar to what we see when we go to the cinema.

Of course, lots of folks have only a passing relationship with the closing credits in movies, since this is the time they use to gather up their belongings and skedaddle, hoping to beat everyone else out to the parking lot - all to no avail.

In Britain, traditionally the national anthem was played at the end of the movie. I only mention this in passing because there is a hilarious scene in Till Death Us Do Part, the film based upon the TV series which inspired All in the Family, which has the Archie Bunkerish father standing at attention while the anthem is being played, and his being upset that his family is leaving him to catch the bus home.

I like end credits. I like listening to the brief bits of music, and I appreciate the fact that folks get screen credit. But also because it means that the advertising folks at the network/station haven’t gotten their greedy little hands on the show, ruining the experience for the audience.

For a truly bizarre experience, try watching anything on TV Land - or any of any of a host of other cable networks - as sometimes one isn’t sure quite whether an episode is actually over - because they have done away with the end credits altogether - unless you count those dinky things along the bottom of the screen that run just as the next episode is beginning.

I read an explanation in an entertainment magazine some years ago explaining why the end credits have been chopped up, and why, indeed, so many new shows don’t have any real openers at all - the editor described them as “video real estate,” a concept which surely makes one gag, especially one who appreciates the care which goes into a well-crafted opener.

In 2013 the opening to The Prisoner might well be nixed by the folks who only see art in dollar signs, or even Gilligan’s Island, for crying out loud. The Six Million Dollar Man, while not Shakespeare, has a remarkably complicated opener, and conveys an incredible amount of visual information - information you won’t pick up until after repeated viewings.

And on the end credits, you sometimes get nuggets like this, slipped unobtrusively at the end of each and every episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.:

"We wish to thank the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement, without whose assistance this program would not have been possible."

It was also put into the credits of the reunion movie, The Return of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. The Fifteen Years Later Affair, in 1983.

All complete hokum, of course, but this ten-year-old boy believed.

I mean, really, really, really believed.

Not only that, but because of the frequent shots of the United Nations building, I was convinced that U.N.C.L.E. was somehow connected to the UN. Ah well . . .

I bought all of the novels, including one with a distinct John le Carré inspired feel to it, The Affair of the Gentle Saboteur, by Brandon Keith. As with the Raymond F. Jones Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea novel, several are better than the actual show. But getting back to our missing end credits . . .

I miss credits, both opening and closing, on TV shows. I don’t think that the grubby little hands of those who sell advertising should have any say at all about how shows are presented to us. That’s an old-fashioned view, perhaps, but even so . . .

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The best Man from U.N.C.L.E. joke ever

In The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen Years Later Affair, agent Napoleon Solo asks the U.N.C.L.E. version of Q where the “special U.N.C.L.E. guns” they used to use are - you know, the ones we could order from the toy department in the Sears catalog at Christmas.

“They’re in the special U.N.C.L.E. wing of the Smithsonian,” she tell him.

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Are TV credits put on by people who don’t like actors or writers?

Have you ever noticed how light the text is on some programs, or how small, when they tell you who the guest stars, writers, producers and directors are?

Sort of like giving you credit but not giving you credit at the same time.

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Quote of the Day

Americans are optimists. They hope they’ll be wealthy some day - and they’re positive they can get one more brushful of paint out of an empty can. - Bern Williams

rsdrake@cox.net

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