"The Project Strigas Affair" is a 1964 first-season episode from the well-known TV series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. The episode is perhaps best remembered for the pre-Star Trek guest-star pairing of actors William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.
"Seriously, it's gonna be called Star Trek...Me and him are gonna become pals and..." "Bill, I think you've had a little too much to drink."
The plot revolves around a Balkan diplomat called Kurasov who is trying to sabotage East-West relations. Leonard Nimoy plays an assistant to Kurasov.
The U.N.C.L.E. team recruits Bill Shatner, who plays a pest exterminator, into a Cold War game of deception and subterfuge. The complicated scheme revolves around an invented chemical called "Strigas" which Kurasov will no-doubt want, and which will really be used to undermine the diplomat's credibility.
This really is Cold War "fun and games" at their height. Lots and lots of very gentlemanly intelligence-oriented machinations and endless smoking of cigarettes - how times have changed since those days.
The plot may be just a little too complicated, but it is an entertaining enough piece of hokum.
Bill Shatner has a lot of fun with the role, goofing around like it was a second-season Star Trek episode.
Interestingly, U.N.C.L.E. stars Robert Vaughn and David McCallum would soon end up with a similar problem to that which Shatner and Nimoy experienced on Star Trek. Namely, the "unusual" co-star becoming more popular than the "ordinary" lead. Rumors abound that the two stars did not get on. Yet, whereas Kirk and Spock had a great on-screen chemistry, the dynamic between Napoleon Solo (Vaughn) and Illya Kuryakin (McCallum) is a little less easy to define. Nonetheless, the series remained popular and ran for four seasons.
Now, to the hair...
Bill Shatner wears his usual-for-this-era "Jim Kirk lace" - yet, this is a rare occasion in which the hair is styled a little more wavy; the usually rounded shape of the toupee, a little more angled.
There is a particularly unique toupological moment in this episode, and one that doesn't directly concern Bill Shatner. David McCallum's character disguises himself in the episode in order to infiltrate the Balkan embassy.
In a later scene, and right in front of Bill Shatner's character, Kuryakin removes his disguise, including his thick hairpiece (considerably heavier than the specially-designed toupee that Bill Shatner wore).
This must have been a shocking thing for Bill Shatner to have to watch.
A toupee removed before his very eyes.
Here's his reaction - make of it what you will:
Love at first sight? A kleptomaniac impulse? Truth is, unless this scene was shot with multiple cameras, Bill Shatner wasn't actually seeing the toupee removed when the camera was on him.
There are a couple of other interesting moments, including a toupee sharing a kiss with a wig (was this the first ever inter-toupular kiss aired on network television?):
And two toupees in the same shot:
Perhaps this episode was a metaphorical toupee love story of sorts, with the director and/or writer once again gaining inspiration from Bill Shatner's toupee. "The Project Strigas Affair" is available to buy as part of the The Man From U.N.C.L.E. first season DVD box-set. Presently, it can also been watched on YouTube.