Everything some people know they
learned in kindegarten. Everything Jim Shin knows he learned
from Illya Kuryakin.
T o paraphrase Paul Simon, Where have you gone, Illya Kuryakin? A
nation turns its lonely eyes to you. I can hear some of you asking,
Who is Illya Kuryakin? That is, I could hear you if you were in the
same room with me and screaming loudly enough to be detected over
the music blasting from my stereo. I'm trying to get this stupid
song out of my head. (Woo, woo, woo. Woo, woo, woo.) As it is, I
can only imagine hearing you ask. (We'd like to know a little bit
about you for our files. PLEASE, MAKE IT STOP!) It's a shame, of
course, that (laugh about it, shout about it, when you've got to
choose. Yanna, yanna, yanna
it you lose)
Excuse me for a second.
BACK IN BLACK. I'm BACK IN BLAAAACK. Dunt. Dunt dunt. Dunt dunt.
There, that's better.
Illya Kuryakin, for those who don't know, is one of the greatest
heroes in American history. I guess I should mention that he is
not, technically speaking, a real person. He was a television
character. A spy in the mid-'60s TV hit The Man From U.N.C.L.E., he
was the quiet one, compared to his more showy partner Napoleon
Solo. But since when do we hold back from making heroes out of our
TV characters? Homer Simpson, anyone?
We'll take all the heroes we can get, in light of the latest spy
scandal. Unless you count defection, which, in his case, I don't,
because he defected to the U.S., not from it. Illya Kuryakin, I'm
reasonably certain, would never betray his country. And not just
because the writers of the show wouldn't let him do so for fear of
an outcry that would cost the show advertising revenue. He wouldn't
do it because he knew it would be wrong
yes, of course, but also
because he wouldn't like having "handlers." Han-dlers are those
nefarious persons who pulled the strings of Robert Hanssen, the
most recently accused American-spy-turned-Russian-agent. In true
American fashion, Kuryakin was too independent to ever allow
himself to be handled. Hell, he could barely stand Napoleon Solo,
and the two of them were partners.