One Less Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Napoleon Solo, as played by the recently departed Robert Vaughn, was sophisticated, charming, smart, and dangerous. He epitomized a fictional archetype of an era adjusting to the frightening reality of relentless international evil. The world of Napoleon Solo was one that saw the beginning and end of the concrete slaughter and maelstrom of unrestrained fascism quickly replaced by the prolonged abstract terror of nuclear holocaust.

At the center of the show that Vaughn starred in was the struggle between U.N.C.L.E. and T.H.R.U.S.H., the embodiment of pure evil. Solo and his partner, Illya Kuryakin, played by David McCallum, weren't superhuman and they weren't endowed with any weird superpowers. And, as mere mortals go, they weren't particularly impressive physically. Neither man was Captain America. Neither man was Jason Bourne. And that was the point. T.H.R.U.S.H was going to have to be defeated by humans. Clever, urbane, capable, intelligent humans, but humans nonetheless. And for me, that foundational element of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. series was and is the attraction.

If the forces of evil can only be defeated by beings that can fly on their own, or who can make themselves invisible, or who, by the age of 25, can speak a dozen languages and know every form of hand-to-hand combat ever devised by man, or who can do any number of things that people can't actually do, then the fight is already lost. But if you believe, as I do, that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things, then the archetype Vaughn and McCallum played provides plenty of hope, and no small amount of entertainment.