Publication Dates: January 1967 – October 1967
Number of Issues Published: 5 (#1 – #5)
Dimensions: Standard Silver Age U.S.
Paper Stock: Newsprint
Publishing Format: Was Ongoing Series
Based on the NBC television show that ran for one season in 1966-1967.
Information thanks to the Grand Comics Database
The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. is an American spy-fi TV series that aired on NBC for one season from September 16, 1966 to April 11, 1967. The series was a spin-off from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and used the same theme music composed by Jerry Goldsmith, which was rearranged into a slightly different, harder-edged arrangement by Dave Grusin.
The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. stars Stefanie Powers as American U.N.C.L.E. agent April Dancer and Noel Harrison (son of Rex Harrison) as her British partner, Mark Slate. Leo G. Carroll plays their superior, Alexander Waverly. The character name “April Dancer” was suggested by James Bond creator Ian Fleming who was a consultant in the creation of the parent program shortly before his death.
The series was not as successful as its parent program and was cancelled after 29 episodes due to low ratings. Several crossover episodes were produced in conjunction with The Man from U.N.C.L.E., including the episode that introduced April and Mark. In their first appearance they were portrayed by Mary Ann Mobley and Norman Fell, respectively.
In the memorable Girl crossover episode “The Mother Muffin Affair”, Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) teamed up with April Dancer with Boris Karloff dressed in drag as the titular villainess Mother Muffin.
Similar to the later spy series Alias, April Dancer often went on undercover missions where she had to affect a foreign accent (Powers is fluent in several languages). Her dance training was also put to good use in several episodes, particularly “The Mata Hari Affair” where Powers recreated the famous Greta Garbo dance from the 1932 film Mata Hari.
Another notable feature was the sometimes outlandish avant-garde outfits worn by Powers intended to make her appear hip and modern. She was featured on the cover of TV Guide (Dec. 31, 1966–Jan. 6, 1967), and the article on her mentions the show “…allocating roughly $1,000 an episode for stretch vinyl jackets and skirts, a bare-midriff harem-dancer outfit, miniskirts and the latest mod fashions from London’s Carnaby Street.”
The article also underscores the show’s major flaw: “Unlike her fellow U.N.C.L.E. agents, the ladylike April is not required to kill the bad guys. Her feminine charms serve as the bait, while her partner Noel Harrison provides the fireworks. She does carry, however, a perfume atomizer that sprays gas, earrings and charm bracelets that explode, among other interesting gadgets.”
In contrast to her dynamic, karate-chopping contemporaries Honey West and Emma Peel (The Avengers), the demure, “ladylike” conception of April Dancer weakened the character and often turned her into a helpless damsel-in-distress. Arming her with gimmicks and gadgets was not enough.
Additionally, the stories generally leaned toward parody, campy humor and cartoonish villains instead of the more realistic action-suspense format of its progenitor. This is largely due to the influence of the Batman series which became an instant sensation in early 1966. During the 1966-1967 season, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. also suffered a decline in ratings due to a change in format designed to appeal to Batman fans.
Despite attempts at cross-promotion with its parent series — Harrison appeared as Slate in an episode of Man from U.N.C.L.E. while Robert Vaughn appeared as Napoleon Solo in an episode of Girl — the show failed to build an audience and thus lasted only one season. According to The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Book by Jon Heitland, and commentary on the DVD release of the parent series, the failure of Girl from U.N.C.L.E. was considered a contributing factor in Man’s mid-season cancellation in early 1968.