Maxwell Smart, Spy Extraordinaire

RemingtonGet Smart parodied the popular spy genre in the 1960s, countering serious offerings, including The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  Created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, Get Smart gave American television audiences a humorous view of espionage during the Cold War.  Don Adams mastered the role of Maxwell Smart, a well-meaning, befuddled, and gadget-dependent spy for C.O.N.T.R.O.L., a United States spy agency.

 Sexy sidekick Barbara Feldon played Agent 99, always ready to steer Max back on track after a mishap, misunderstanding, or mishandled assignment.  In the 2005 obituary for Don Adams in The New York Times, Douglas Martin wrote, “The original show spoofed the James Bond movies in an innocent, if sophomoric way, and one of its most winning characteristics was the seriousness with which Maxwell Smart again and again did and said things that were really stupid.”

When Smart screwed up, which was often, he offered his standard line.  “Sorry about that, Chief.”

When Smart failed to convince someone of the truthfulness of a tale, he offered an alternative that began with the phrase “Would you believe…?”

During the nostalgia craze of the 1990s, Feldon played Diane Caldwell, a send-up of her iconic popular culture status, in the 1993 Mad About You episode The Spy Who Loved Me.  The star of Spy Girl, a popular 1960s television show, Caldwell was once the object of boyhood fantasies, especially for cousins Ira and Paul.  But in adulthood, Ira realizes his fantasy.  It does not go further than one night as Caldwell dispassionately dismisses any thought of a future with Ira.

Edward Platt played the Chief in Get Smart.  He never lost faith in his espionage duo.  Dick Gautier played Hymie the Robot.  David Ketchum played Agent 13.  Bernie Kopell played Siegfried, an agent from rival agency K.A.O.S.

Get Smart began each episode with brass theme that sounded ominous as Max pulled up to C.O.N.T.R.O.L headquarters in a sports car.  He went through several doors to get to his ultimate destination within the building, presumably a meeting with Agent 99 and the Chief.

Probably the most recognizable props of Get Smart were Max’s shoe phone and the constantly malfunctioning Cone of Silence.  Get Smart inspired the 1980 farce The Nude Bomb, a movie that summarizes the plot in its title.  The bomb at the heart of the movie has the capability to remove people’s clothing.

In 1989, Adams and Feldon returned to their roles in Get Smart Again, a tv-movie.  In 1995, Get Smart returned as a television series for a post-Cold War incarnation.  Andy Dick played the son of Agent 99 and Max, now a married couple.  They also had a daughter who, like her mother, did not have a name.

Get Smart holds a tremendous distinction in the annals of television.  Its versions have appeared on four networks.  The original series first aired on NBC and then switched to CBS for its final season.  Get Smart Again aired on ABC and the 1995 show aired on FOX.

The Brady Bunch enjoys the same status.  It aired on ABC as did the short-lived The Brady Bunch Variety Hour.  The Brady Brides, an early 1980s sitcom and its progenitor, the tv-movie The Brady Girls Get Married, aired on NBC.  The 1988 tv-movie A Very Brady Christmas aired on CBS.  Its popularity inspired CBS to air the drama series The Bradys, which only lasted a few weeks.  The 2002 tv-movie The Brady Bunch in the White House aired on FOX.

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