Richard Matheson and his (unlikely) contribution to spy TV

Richard Matheson

Richard Matheson

Author Richard Matheson died this week at the age of 87. Obituaries, SUCH AS THIS ONE ON NPR quite rightly detailed work such as I Am Legend, classic episodes of The Twilight Zone and the early 1970s television movie Duel, starring Dennis Weaver, which was one of Steven Spielberg’s early directing credits.

He also made an unlikely contribution to 1960s spy television. It wasn’t on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. or Mission: Impossible or Get Smart or The Wild, Wild West. Instead, it was the script for an installment of The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., the spinoff that only lasted one season.

The specific episode was THE ATLANTIS AFFAIR, the ninth episode of the series. While it suffers some of the same campiness that crimped the entire Girl series, it is one of the better entries for the show. With Matheson scripting, April Dancer (Stefanie Powers) and Mark Slate (Noel Harrison) come across as more than competent, which wasn’t always the case in a show that too often played it for laughs while falling short.

Matheson’s script even introduces some science fiction elements. The villain in the episode is even played by Khigh Dhiegh, two years before his debut as Wo Fat, the arch-foe of Steve McGarrett in Hawaii Five-O.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: