1 9 6 5 – 1 9 7 0 (USA)
138 x 30 minute episodes
1 9 9 5 (USA)
7 x 30 minute episodes
“I asked you not to tell me that!”
The premise of this cult-classic television comedy series is that an evil organisation, ‘KAOS’, is attempting to take over the world. The forces of good, symbolised by the organisation ‘Control’, constantly battle KAOS to preserve order in the world.
Maxwell Smart (former standup comedian Don Adams) is Control Secret Agent 86. A short, stupid, self-centred man, Smart is the antithesis of everything conventionally represented by secret service agents in popular culture.
His immediate superior is The Chief (Edward Platt), the head of the Washington Bureau of Control, located 10 stories underground beneath 123 Main Street, Washington DC.
In his fight against KAOS, Smart is assisted by his sidekick, Agent 99, played by former model Barbara Feldon, who had appeared on TV as a Revlon Girl (“Hey, Tiger?”).
Unfailingly faithful to Maxwell Smart and always willing to let him take the credit, 99’s admiration goes well beyond professional respect.
It is obvious to everyone, except of course Max, that Agent 99 is in love with him, and indeed, they marry in the show’s fourth season (Don Adams’ real-life wife, Dorothy Bracken Adams, played 99’s bridesmaid in the wedding scene).
Agent 99 was equipped with a hairbrush gun, a compact phone, a loaded charm bracelet, and knockout lipstick – one kiss could render a victim unconscious.
The success of Get Smart was in no small part due to the spy craze that was all the rage in early 1960s popular culture. In the mid-1960s spies were hot: The Man from U.N.C.L.E aired on NBC in 1964. I Spy appeared in 1965. The Avengers, a British production, came to US television in March of 1966.
In this context Mel Brooks (The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs), Buck Henry (The Graduate, Saturday Night Live), Jay Sandrich (who would go on to direct Soap, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Cosby Show) and Carl Reiner (Mary Tyler Moore) were brought together by Dan Melnick and David Susskind to develop the idea for Get Smart.
The show was initially rejected by ABC-TV before being picked up by NBC, who gave Maxwell Smart a home and introduced him on 18 September 1965.
Don Adams had played a house detective on The Danny Thomas Show before signing on as Agent 86. His ability to deliver lines that stuck in the viewers’ mind was uncanny.
On several occasions, for example, after being asked if he understands that his current assignment means he will be in constant danger, unable to trust anyone, and face torture or even death, Smart, assuming a cavalier stance, responds with, “And loving it.”
Another catchphrase, “Sorry about that, chief,” was usually uttered when Smart accidentally caused his boss some harm or botched an important assignment.
Max was armed with a smorgasbord of inventive gadgets designed by the top minds of Control’s lab. His arsenal of devices included computers, false body parts, flotation devices, guided-missile equipment, secret transmitters and coded manuals . . . and, of course, an array of telephones: a telephone gun, a radiator phone, a sock phone, a wrist phone, a sandwich phone, and the old standby, the shoe phone.
In the show’s first season, Victor French (Carter Country, Little House on the Prairie) played agent 44, who hid in mailboxes, trash cans and vending machines.
Dave Ketchum took over the hiding-in-the-strangest-places duties as agent 13 before Al Molinaro (Happy Days, The Odd Couple) stepped in and revived ol’ 44.
Get Smart is credited with paving the way for other comedy programmes and broadening the parameters for the presentation of comedy on television.
In 1995 an attempt was made to revive the series with some of the original actors. This time Don Adams was cast as The Chief, with Barbara Feldon as a Congresswoman and Andy Gill as their son, Secret Agent Zach Smart. Elaine Hendrix stepped into Feldon’s old straight-woman role (as Agent 66). The new series was unable to attract a large audience and lasted only seven episodes.
Maxwell Smart drove a number of fine vehicles throughout the original series.
Initially, he had a Red 1965 Sunbeam Tiger convertible sports car which contained a cigarette lighter that doubled as a grenade, an ejector seat activated by remote control or a switch on the dashboard, an exhaust pipe machine gun, tailpipe oil slick device, two 50-calibre machine guns concealed in the hood, a radar tracking device to track Control agent cars, a radiator cap filled with poisonous gas and a smokescreen device.
During the second season, Max had a blue VW Karman Ghia convertible, and during the fifth season, he drove a gold 1969 Opel GT sports car. On a few occasions, Max also drove a white Mustang convertible.
Maxwell Smart (Agent 86)
Chief (Edward Platt)
Edward C. Platt
Hymie the Robot