TV’s ‘Get Smart’ spoofs the spies (1965)

1967 Get Smart

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What do you get when you mix equal parts Mel Brooks and James Bond? Get Smart, of course.

The immensely popular 1960s show came in hot on the heels of the Cold War era fascination with the spy trade, blending absurdist comedy with goofy gadgets, nefarious characters set on world domination, and dapper secret agents.

Starring Don Adams as the bumbling Maxwell Smart — aka Agent 86 — and Barbara Feldon as his female cohort Agent 99. The Emmy-winning sitcom ran for 5 seasons on NBC and CBS, going on to inspire a revival series and a feature film over 30 years after its initial broadcast run.

Get Smart shoe telephones

Get Smart: Spies go to the dogs in cloak-and-giggle drama

Charlie Chan and Ellery Queen were amateurs compared to the private eye who will color up NBC television beginning in September. “Get Smart” is scheduled for 8:30 to 9 pm, Saturdays.

Did Charlie Chan have mirrored cufflinks to see who was following him? Maxwell Smart does.

Did Ellery Queen have a telephone in the heel of his shoe? Maxwell Smart does.

He is described by series co-creator Mel Brooks and story editor Buck Henry thusly:

Smart is in his mid-30s. He has been carefully trained over a number of years by Control, a top-secret government organization, which has given him an expert professional knowledge of counterespionage.

He speaks many languages; has a working familiarity with every deadly weapon; is adept at karate, judo and jiujitsu.

But his most prominent characteristic is an unfailing, unflagging, almost abnormal determination to do his job and do it well; to wipe out crime and eradicate evil. (Continued)

Get Smart opening theme & credits

Hilarious spoof

This determination is a two-edged weapon. On the one hand, it provides him with a boyish and, in fact, lovable sincerity.

On the other, it tends to involve him in errors of timing and judgment which, to a less lucky secret agent, would indicate an early retirement.”

Don’t, thoughtful reader, take any of this seriously. The entire series is one of the most hilarious spoofs on private eyes ever to be presented on television or in any other medium.

Star Don Adams has innumerable claims to fame, among them, a dedicated supper club following of fans, a by-now-cliche he cooked up on last year’s Bill Dana series: “You really know how to hurt a guy,” and a real working knowledge of the wild weapons he’ll operate in “Get Smart.”

(He was a drill instructor in the Marine Corps during World War II.)

What else has “Get Smart” to offer?

The tiger girl, that’s what. The tiger girl of countless commercials, Barbara Feldon, chalks up her first television series, after building a reputation and bank account as one of the top models in New York City.

1967 Get Smart

Just Agent 99

Barbara doesn’t have a name on “Get Smart.” She’s “Agent 99,” and even though Maxwell Smart may invite her out for a Chinese dinner now and then, she’s still “99” to him.

And then we have “Fang.” Fang is a large, shaggy dog without which a secret operator couldn’t operate efficiently. So well trained is Fang that when Agent 99 sneezes, Fang barks to say “Bless you.” So well trained is Agent 99, she says “Thank you.”

For girl-watchers, Agent 99 won’t let you down. She, like Don Adams, will wear a variety of disguises, but whereas his may encompass mustaches, strangely-fitting trenchcoats or specially-designed suits with espionage-type gimmicks, Agent 99 has gone into training for her role.

“Up until I signed for this series,” she told a newsman recently, “my most strenuous activity had been walking up the five flights of stairs to our apartment in New York. Now I’m learning to ride horseback, taking fencing and driving lessons.”

MORE: You can Get Smart on DVD

As for Maxwell Smart’s private life, he’s not an affluent spy, of course, but he does live in a comfortable apartment — alone.

And wouldn’t you just know the Talent Associates group of executives, including producer Jay Sandrich, would select a special effects man on their crew primarily for his name — Percy Hyde.

“Who’s better suited for a spy series?” says Sandrich, again with all seriousness.

It’s he who takes particular delight in pointing out that entry to the production company’s offices can be reached only by a long, dark and eerily echoing tunnel.

“That’s how we get in the mood to create our stories. We always figure someone’s following us,” says Sandrich, clicking his heels in the ghostly tunnel.

Get Smart 99 and 86

Get Smart cartoon 1965

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