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Women of 'Man'

December 02, 2007

I thoroughly enjoyed Robert Lloyd's review of "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." and agreed with almost everything he wrote. However, his assertion that the series was "Neanderthal" in its presentation of women hit a sour note with me.

Sexism did abound in "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," but, after being raised on a glut of helpless women in '60s and '70s TV, I'm astounded by how ahead of their time the women of this show were. The female "innocents," ordinary women put in the extraordinary position of helping save the world, often revealed themselves to be brave, resourceful and highly capable. The female villains were smart, confident and often more successful in playing the great game than their male counterparts.

Napoleon Solo didn't overpower the women he seduced. Instead, with a wink and a smile, he charmed them into doing the right thing and didn't always succeed at winning their affections. Unlike the Bond girls, "Man From U.N.C.L.E." gals don't strike me as victims of their sexuality. In fact, I think some of them actually enjoyed exploiting sex for their own ends, or just plain enjoyed sex!

V.E. Higgins



I'VE been waiting breathlessly for the "Man from U.N.C.L.E." DVD set for years.

I don't know if Lloyd is familiar with some of the jargon fans use, but people who saw the original on-the-air show are "first cousins." My children, who saw it on TNT, are "second cousins."

I mention that because Lloyd has a remark -- "I have to wonder if this could elicit a glimmer of interest from a contemporary tot, weaned on CGI effects and the three-second edit and who may carry on his own person a small device capable of worldwide communication, along with a host of other cute tricks the 'U.N.C.L.E.' engineers were born too early to even consider." Based on conventions, fan fiction and my own children, I would say the answer is a resounding "yes." My children were 8 and 10 when they fell in love with "MFU." Now 21 and 23, they still pull out my Ace paperbacks and read them. And they are not the only second cousins out there. They are numerous. I think it's a testament to the quality of the writing.

Susan Parry



WHEN I was in sixth grade, I used to wear a black turtleneck to school every Friday and tell the other kids that I was secretly in U.N.C.L.E. It's weird that I wasn't more popular, isn't it? And now, at 52, I still have all 23 novels.

That DVD is the only thing I want for Christmas.

Josh Mankiewicz


Mankiewicz is a journalist with "Dateline NBC."

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