StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-114124494416648.jpg’, ”, ‘Robert Vaughn’);
I might not remember the original 1960s run of The Man From U.N.C.L.E, but I do remember watching repeats of it with my sister back in the late 80s when it ran at 10 or 11 p.m. on USA. It was a fun, cheesyand as it turns outiconic spy show. Most people thought Napoleon Solo was cool, but to my sister and me, Illya Kuryakin was cooler. Probably because he didnt seem to know just how cool he was.
Flash forward 38 years since the end of the shows original run. Who would have imagined the men from U.N.C.L.E.Robert Vaughn and David McCallumwould still be working on TV series in 2006? And theyd still be cool?
McCallum, who played Kuryakin, is currently enjoying his third season on CBSs popular series NCIS, playing Dr. Donald Ducky Mallard. And in January, Vaughn returned to TV in Hustle, AMCs stylish new original series about a small group of London con artists.
Both actors, now in their early 70s, have worked steadily through the decades. But having them both back on TV now, at the same time, is kind of incredibleespecially when you think of how few 70-something actors have regular TV roles, particularly on hour-long dramas that generally have far more demanding work schedules than sitcoms.
While McCallum plays a quirky medical examiner on NCIS (apparently reveling in the dark humor in some of his gorier scenes), Vaughns new role as con man Albert Stroller proves he hasnt lost any of Napoleon Solos considerable style. In some ways, its as if Albert is a post-retirement Napoleon Solo looking for new challenges as he lures marks into the hustlers cons as smoothly as Solo led THRUSHs bad guys into custody on U.N.C.L.E. Who says septuagenarians cant be charming?
McCallums Ducky may be nothing like Kuryakin in terms of character, but in one episode of NCIS, someone asked what Ducky was like when he was younger. Mark Harmons character, Gibbs, made an off-hand reply that he looked a bit like Illya Kuryakin. No explanations. No further questions. It was just a fun little inside joke for legions of McCallums U.N.C.L.E. fans.
With NCIS routinely making the Nielsens 20 highest-rated primetime shows, apparently a lot of you are already watching Ducky tell his rambling stories while performing autopsies on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. Central on CBS.
Hustlewhich is filmed on location in Londonis a little harder to find unless youre a regular AMC viewer who sees their frequent on-air promos. Hustle airs Saturday nights at 9 p.m. Central on AMC. If you miss it, dont worry. AMC will rebroadcast each weeks episode sporadically throughout the week. AMC will also host a Hustle marathon Saturday, March 18 beginning at 6 p.m. Central.
Paula Hendrickson of Rockford is a regular contributor to Emmy Magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications including Advertising Age, SatelliteORBIT and TVGuide.
From the March 1-7, 2006, issue