Tuesday, January 20, 2009


The most recent episode of 'New Tricks' to be broadcast in the United States was "Magic Majestic"; only two more to go before the American audience (at least in the NYC area) are caught up with the British run of the series.

Here's an online description of "Magic Majestic" episode:

"The team investigates the death of a man originally thought to have been killed by his hypnotised wife. Brian confronts the magician named in a tip-off and becomes embroiled in a battle of wits, while Gerry, sceptical of the phenomenon, agrees to be put under the spell of an expert at the Magic Circle - with unspeakable results."

While the UCOS squad was at the Magic Circle (a London club for magicians), they learned about Chung Ling Soo, a legendary magician who may or may not have been Asian. Chung Ling Soo died in 1918 while trying to perform the "catch a bullet in your teeth" trick. But he was also known for having faked a disability all of his adult life, and having the discipline to maintain the illusion, just so he could eventually pull off a master-stroke of a trick.
General rule of thumb - any time you are given extraneous information in an episode (or a movie), it will come into play before the story plays out. I'm just sayin', is all.

In the days since I've seen that episode, I've realized that I can apply that information to an episode of 'The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.', one that was fairly entertaining until the finale, when it finally just ended - and badly.

"The Little John Doe Affair" was about a high-stakes gambler named Joey Celeste who was in deep to the Mob. In order to save himself, he offered to spill the beans on his associates to U.N.C.L.E., provided they were able to protect him. But the Mob sent a contract killer named "Little" John Doe to eliminate him... and anyone else who was proving to be a problem.

You can't judge a book by its cover, they say, and the same could be said about Little John Doe. He looked to be a milquetoast mouse of a man from Middle America, more likely to be a CPA than a hit man. And he had a club foot, which meant that he walked slowly and with some difficulty. Despite that, Little John Doe proved to be a proficient assassin.

At the end of the episode, Little John Doe failed to kill Joey Celeste, and he was in a stand-off with U.N.C.L.E. agent April Dancer - a stand-off in which he had the upper hand.

And he simply gives up!

I was flabbergasted when I saw that. Granted, April Dancer was the main character - she dies, the show is over. (Not that it mattered, really - it only lasted another 9 episodes or so.) But at the very least, she shouled have used some fancy martial arts skill or a techno-gizmo from the agency's labs to capture Little John Doe.

I hated that ending so much, I would have much rather had Little John Doe kill April. But then, he was portrayed by Wally Cox, and I was a big fan of his.

That ending always bothered me; it could have been so much better and it just didn't make any sense. I know - a world where cars, dogs, horse, and toasters can talk isn't really going to be known for logic, but still!

And now with this revelation about Chung Ling Soo, I think I may have an answer to splain away that terrible ending. Of course, it can never be proven, as it would have happened after the final credits ran. But as it is a staple of Toobworld that Life continues even after the show is over, that sort of hurdle isn't going to stop me!

I'm thinking that Little John Doe considered all of his options, and he wasn't sure whether or not there was another U.N.C.L.E. agent in the vicinity, perhaps even more than one. He probably figured it was better to surrender, because he had one last trick up his sleeve.
I think Little John Doe knew of Chung Ling Soo's deception about his disability when he was younger, and decided to pull off the same stunt himself. It meant that he had to fool his family all of the time as well, but there must be something to the cliche that assassins are disciplined.

I think Little John Doe may have even made his "club foot" more pronounced as he was brought in to the Italian prison, so that everyone saw it and noted it. That way, when he simply escaped from his cell and then proceeded to walk out as though his foot was normal, no one gave him the slightest notice.

True, he had used up his one ace in the hole, but it was the kind of situation he could have been saving it for.

This way we at least have a logical splainin as to why he would simply surrender to April Dancer.

Toby O'B


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I got the feeling you liked Cox....

Mercurie said...

That is an very interesting theory, but then the U.N.C.L.E. series make for very interesting theories. Myself, I am still convinced Ducky Mallard on NCIS is Illya Kuryakin...

Toby said...

Nah, I don't buy into that one, Merc. In the TV reunion movie, (15 Years Later Affair, I believe), Illya had a career in fashion when he was called back to duty. When did he find time to go back to school and become not only a doctor but such an expert as he appears to be?

I think it more likely that it's another one of those rare lookalike situations not connected to genetics.