Epilogue: Yes, it really was serious

No Time to Die character poster

Once upon a time, today, April 2, was supposed to be the start of regular showings of No Time to Die in the U.K.

Not quite a month ago, the release of the 25th James Bond movie was pushed back to November because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

For some time thereafter, there were complaints.

It’s just the flu. It wasn’t. The death rate from seasonal flu is about 0.1 percent. The death rate from COVID-19 is higher.

It’s only the old and the sick who are at risk. They may be the most at risk, but COVID-19 has taken the lives of people of various ages. Click HERE, HERE, and HERE for examples.

I could go on. Regardless, there are now more than 1 million confirmed cases globally and more than 50,000 deaths as of 5 p.m., New York time, according to The Washington Post. We won’t know the final figures for some time.

But, yes, COVID-19 was always a big deal. It was always bigger than the release of No Time to Die.

Some U.N.C.L.E. myths, goofs for April Fool’s Day

U.N.C.L.E. insignia from a second-season episode

It may be April Fool’s Day, but one website apparently takes its readers for fools. It has some myths and goofs about The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series.

The CrimeReads website has an April 1 article proclaiming, “These are plot descriptions of actual episodes from the 1960s spy television series The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and wow they are…insane.”

But not necessarily accurate. Time for a fact check.

The acronym for the villainous organization is T.H.R.U.S.H, which I think is also some kind of yeast infection.

In the series, the villainous organization was just named Thrush. No acronym. A tie-in novel, The Dagger Affair by David McDaniel, invented one. But it was never canon in the show. In fact, it was never referenced.

The Iowa Scuba Affair (S.1, Ep. 2)

When a young air force officer is shot to death in an Iowa cornfield, Solo finds scuba-diving suits, a fresh-scrubbed farm girl and a “farmer” whose silos contain not grain but a super-secret missile.

The air force officer is really a saboteur. He was shot to death by Solo. It turns out the saboteur murdered the air force officer and took his place.

The Finny Foot Affair (S.1, Ep.10)

A 12-year-old boy, a beautiful stripper, a dog named Spike and a murderous Japanese warlord send Solo and Illya to a mysterious castle where they discover a strange plague that ages its victims.

There is no stripper in the episode. I have no idea where CrimeReads got this from. I’ve seen the episode more times than I count. The boy was played by Kurt Russell, 13 years old at the time.

The Bow Wow Affair (S. 1, Ep. 20)

When world leaders are found dead with their throats slashed, Solo, Illya and Mr. Waverly suspect THRUSH has electronically gained control of the brain of each victim’s pet dog and turned it against its master.

One, Thrush isn’t part of the episode. Second, world leaders aren’t found with their throats slashed. They are rich people who have been attacked by their dogs. The person behind the threat is a gypsy. The gypsy is trying to get control of a major company. The rich people attacked by their dogs are major shareholders in the company.

The See-Paris-and-Die Affair (S. 1, E. 22)

A singing student is turned into a glamorous Parisian nightclub singer by Solo, Illya and Mr. Waverly when they use her to trap jewel thieves.

Waverly doesn’t appear in the episode.

The Discotheque Affair (S. 2, Ep. 5)

Solo, Illya and Mr. Waverly Watusi, frug and swim into a wild bunch of deadly dancers at a discotheque run by THRUSH.

Waverly is in the episode but goes nowhere near the discotheque until the end of the story when other U.N.C.L.E. agents arrive to mop things up. He certainly doesn’t Watusi, frug or swim.

The Thor Affair (S. 3, Ep. 7)

The Men from U.N.C.L.E. travel to Switzerland to protect an Asian leader and receive unexpected help when a vacationing schoolteacher’s dental work can tune in THRUSH’s radio communications.

Thrush isn’t part of the episode. The title refers to the villain, Brutus Thor, who is working for himself.

Some 007-related U.S. TV episodes to watch

Luciana Paluzzi and Robert Vaughn in To Trap a Spy. A tamer version of the scene would be in The Four-Steps Affair.

In the 1960s and 1970s, there were a number of episodes of popular series that had major James Bond influences.

Over in the U.K., there were plenty including The Saint and The Persuaders! (both starring Roger Moore), The Avengers (Honor Blackman and, Diana Rigg playing the female leads in Bond films and Patrick Macnee eventually appearing in A View to a Kill), Danger Man (John Glen was an editor on the series) among others.

But there other examples in the U.S. as well. My collection of TV shows skews that way, so here are some examples. This isn’t a comprehensive list.

THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.

To Trap a Spy/The Four-Steps Affair (first season)

The pilot for The Man From U.N.C.L.E., titled The Vulcan Affair, was produced in late 1963. But the production team decided to add scenes so a movie could be released outside the U.S. if the pilot didn’t sell.

That movie version would be titled To Trap a Spy.

The extra scenes were filmed in early 1964. Luciana Paluzzi played a femme fatale named Angela. Her character would be extremely similar to the Fiona character she’d portray in Thunderball (1965).

In the spring of 1965, that extra footage was incorporated into a first-season episode titled The Four-Steps Affair. So there are two versions of Paluzzi’s Angela character.

What’s more, Richard Kiel plays a thug in both The Vulcan Affair and To Trap a Spy. He shows up as another thug in a first-season episode titled The Hong Kong Shilling Affair.

The Five Daughters Affair (third season)/The Karate Killers

Two actors who would later play Bond villains, Telly Savalas and Curt Jurgens are part of the proceedings. Neither plays a villain. Each character has a relationship with one of the five daughters of the two-part TV episode title.

HAWAII FIVE-O

This series, of course, starred Jack Lord, the first film Felix Leiter. But the series had other James Bond connections of note.

Soon-Tek Oh: The busy character actor (who played Lt. Hip in The Man With the Golden Gun) was in eight episodes of the 1968-80 series. He’s in the pilot as one of the scientists in the employ of arch-villain Wo Fat. He’d return, making his final appearance in the 12th season.

The 90-Second War (fourth season): Wo Fat shows up to frame Steve McGarrett. It’s part of a complicated plot to disable the ability of the U.S. to monitor a key Chinese missile test.

This was a two-part story. In Part II, Donald Pleasance plays a German missile scientist working for the U.S. who is being blackmailed by Wo Fat.

The Jinn Who Clears the Way (fifth season): This is one of Soon-Tek Oh’s appearances. He plays a “young Maoist” who is being manipulated by Wo Fat as part of his scheme. It appears Steve McGarrett finally captures Wo Fat. But the U.S. makes the lawman give up the arch-villain as part of a prisoner exchange.

I’m a Family Crook — Don’t Shoot! (fifth season) The highlight of this episode is a family of grifters headed by a character played by Andy Griffith. But Harold Sakata, Oddjob from Goldfinger, shows up as a thug. Believe it or not, he gets fewer lines here than he had in Goldfinger.

Deep Cover (10th season): Maud Adams plays the head of a spy ring that causes plenty of trouble for McGarrett.

My Friend, the Enemy (10th season): Luciana Paluzzi (in one of her final acting performances) plays an Italian journalist who makes life difficult for McGarrett.

The Year of the Horse (11th season): George Lazenby plays a secondary villain but gets “special guest star” billing in a two-hour episode filmed in Singapore.

THE FBI

Rope of Gold (second season): Louis Jourdan was a villain in three episodes of the 1965-74 series. But his first appearance here is his best.

Jourdan’s character is pressuring a business executive (Peter Graves) to supply information regarding the shipments of key components of interest to the Soviet bloc. Jourdan has a really good scene where he discusses how he came to lead the life he has chosen.

Also appearing in a small role is helicopter pilot James W. Gavin (listed in the cast as “Gavin James”). He was the pilot who had the presence of mind during filming of Diamonds Are Forever on the oil rig to get his cameras rolling when explosions were set off by mistake. Gavin, naturally, plays a pilot but gets a few lines.

The Executioners (second season): In this two-part story, Telly Savalas plays a high-ranking official of La Cosa Nostra who wants to get out but can’t. The two-part story was re-edited as a movie for international audiences.

The Target (sixth season): Karin Dor plays the daughter of the economics minister of a Communist nation who has defected. The daughter doesn’t even know her father has defected yet. Communist operatives intend to kidnap her to force her father to return.

About that Thunderball jet pack

Sean Connery in an insert shot during the pre-titles sequence of Thunderball

For first-generation fans of the James Bond films, the pre-titles sequence of Thunderball is an enduring memory. A major reason was how Bond (Sean Connery) got away from thugs with a jet pack.

Bond fans who weren’t around then may not understand the excitement that the sequence generated. That’s understandable. You had to be there.

Still, here’s the broader context: By 1965, the Bond films had created a market for all sorts of spy entertainment. On television, the best of these entries had interesting characters and concepts: The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (a series where Ian Fleming had been involved for a time), The Wild Wild West, I Spy and others.

In terms of movies, the Matt Helm and Derek Flint films were in production.

By the fall of 1965, spies were *everywhere*. How could Bond stay ahead?

That was the challenge for Thunderball, which began filming in early 1965.

Eon Productions decided to go bigger, giving the audience what they couldn’t get on TV or on other more modestly budgeted films.

With Thunderball, the jet pack was the perfect example. It was real. No special effects (example for the insert shots of Sean Connery supposedly piloting the jet pack).

Over the years, Eon Productions flirted with bringing the jet pack back. The first draft of Moonraker had Bond using a jet pack during the Venice sequence. The first draft of The World Is Not Enough had Bond using a jet pack instead of the “Q boat.”

The closest Eon got was a jet pack cameo for Die Another Day. We haven’t seen it since.

That’s probably how it should be. Thunderball was catching lightning in a bottle (there was a lot of that, circa 1965). It should remain there. But for those of us who witnessed it first run, we won’t forget it.

Meanwhile, this tweet embeds a video of a Lego version of the Thunderball jet pack sequence. Amazing work.

 

MGM says NTTD delay was ‘the right call at the right time’

MGM’s Leo the Lion logo

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s chief operating officer this week told investors that delaying No Time to Die to November was “the right call at the right time.”

Christopher Brearton, on a conference call with investors, said the studio acted quickly and was “able to secure Bond’s place on the release calendar…This was the right decision for MGM and the storied James Bond franchise.”

No Time to Die, the 25th Bond film, had been set for release in April, with a world premiere on March 31.

On March 4, the release date was changed to Nov. 12 in the U.K. and Nov. 25 in the U.S. The move took place as the coronavirus pandemic began disrupting the entertainment industry, with theaters closing and productions being shut down. No Time to Die was one of the first major films to be delayed.

Since then, a number of expensive films — the ninth Fast and the Furious installment, Marvel’s Black Widow and Warner Bros.’s Wonder Woman 1984, among them — have given up their original release dates.

Since 1995, Bond films have mostly come out in November in the U.S.

“That window has worked,” Brearton said. He called the new November schedule “an advantageous release date.”

NTTD doesn’t need major reshoots, Baz says

No Time to Die does not require major reshoots, Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail said Thursday night.

The 25th James Bond film is “loaded and ready to go for its November release,” the Daily Mail scribe said.

During the production of Skyfall and SPECTRE, Bamigboye had a number of scoops proven to be correct. Bamigboye has not been as active covering No Time to Die.

No Time to Die had been scheduled for a March 31 world premiere. The Bond film would then be released in April 2 in the U.K. and April 10 in the United States.

The release was pushed back to November because of the coronavirus earlier this month. But there have been suspicions the real reason was to perform reshoots.

An excerpt from the Daily Mail story:

Pernicious rumours circulating that its opening date was shifted from April because it was unfinished are wide of the mark.
(snip)

‘It was finished. Perhaps there might have been a little spot of ADR [the industry term for rerecording dialogue] but if it does need it, then that can be achieved quickly, as soon as the restrictions are lifted.’

Meanwhile, No Time To Die has, literally, been locked away.

At this point, with a global pandemic raging, No Time to Die is on the back burner. The first priority for many nations is trying to cope with the virus. The Bond film won’t be out for months.

Bond 25: Reflections on what could have been

New No Time to Die poster

In another life, I would have been traveling to London on March 27 ahead of events scheduled for the March 31 premiere of No Time to Die.

Life changes. In our universe, that means a pandemic that resulted in the cancelation of the world premiere for the 25th James Bond film.

Had the original plans played out it would have been a second honeymoon. Things didn’t play out that way.

That was then, this is now.

A pandemic has changed everything. Many thousands have died from the COVID-19 pandemic. In some countries, medical authorities have been forced to select who lives and who dies.

Travel has been shut down. No Time to Die’s premiere has been pushed back to November.

For some, Bond is like a religion. For others, it’s just a movie.

Regardless, the world has changed over just the past two months.

No matter how disappointed you feel, No Time to Die is just a movie. No matter how long it takes, we’ll get a chance to see it — assuming we all survive the pandemic.

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is more potent than the seasonal flu. It requires everybody to take care and be safe.

The blog wishes everyone to be careful. Hopefully, we’ll all get a chance to see No Time to Die at a time when it’s appropriate.