Referring to a recent episode of 'NCIS', Zap2It.com's wonderful "TV Gal" reported:
On 'NCIS', Kate asked Gibbs who Duckie looked like when he was younger. Gibbs answered "Illya Kuryakin," which was, of course, the name of David McCallum's character on 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' Thanks to TV Gal readers Mitch and Mary for catching this clever reference. It's true. We live for this stuff.
David Bianculli of the New York Daily News would call this an Extra. That's an in-joke designed to give a little something extra to the loyal fans and television fanatics. (And to give the writers a reason to keep on plodding/plotting away.)
I've sent in plenty over the years to Mr. Bianculli. But in this case, being the Toobworld Caretaker and all, I didn't see it as an in-joke. For me, it's verification that 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.' and 'NCIS' (and by extension 'JAG' and 'First Monday'*) exist in the same TV Universe.
If that scene played out right, Gibbs never mentioned that Illya Kuryakin was only a TV character in a classic 60s spy series. He simply stated that Dr. Mallard looked like Illya Kuryakin. This seems to me to imply that Gibbs knew that Illya Kuryakin was a real person in Toobworld.
And it would make sense that the former Russian agent for the United Network Command for Law Enforcement would be well-known to people outside the shadow realm of espionage. After retiring from the service, Illya wasn't whisked off to some remote "Village" to be questioned. Instead, he became a fashion designer.
And although he must have become famous, he wasn't happy in the profession. And that's why he was more than willing to chuck it aside and return to work for U.N.C.L.E. again, fifteen years after he resigned.
One of Gibbs' ex-wives may have been a slave to fashion, and that's why he knew about Kuryakin.
As to why Dr. Mallard looked almost exactly like the legendary spy? Accelerated cloning is a possibility; it would certainly work for a spy format that had plenty of off-the-wall concepts - like reanimating the corpse of Hitler. Or experimental plastic surgery during Dr. Mallard's medical school training, as part of some dark, secret government sponsored program. It was during the Cold War after all.........
But unlike 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.', 'NCIS' is mostly rooted in reality. So let's keep the splainin simple.......
Ducky and Illya had the same Daddy, who was dipping his wick around the globe.
On second thought, I like the Cold War plastic surgery splainin better. Makes for more interesting fanfic!
* 'NCIS' is a spin-off from 'JAG'. And Dean Stockwell's character of the Navy Secretary was carried over from the short-lived 'First Monday', which was about the Supreme Court.