Thursday, August 14, 2008

'...And loving it!'

Oh, what fun.

I hadn't seen "Get Smart" -- the '60s TV show, not the Steve Carell spoof -- since its early '90s re-run heyday on Nick at Nite. Ordered the first season from Amazon last week (that experience is a blog post in and of itself) and watched an episode or two last night.

For the unwashed, "Get Smart" was a parody of the spy movies and TV shows that were all the rage in the mid-60s. The late, great Don Adams played the bumbling Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 for CONTROL, who does battle each week with the international terrorist organization KAOS. Along for the ride -- and to solve the case while Max bumbled around -- was Agent 99 (the underrated Barbara Feldon), Max's partner and future wife.

If ever an actor was born to play a part, surely it was Don Adams for Maxwell Smart. He was picture perfect. The dead-pan looks. The classic one liners. ("Max, this case will put you in constant danger, your life on the line at every possible turn." Pause. "...And loving it!") Each episode was peppered with the usual bumbling CONTROL and KAOS agents. (My favorite was Hymie the robot (played to the hilt by Dick Gautier). I laughed until I cried the time he saved Max a parking space -- by lying down in the street!)

After five highly successful TV seasons, "Get Smart" had an interesting afterlife. A truly bizarre feature film sequel was released in 1980, originally called "The Nude Bomb" (the plot involved a bomb that rid the world of its clothes...), with only Don Adams returning from the original show. A more traditional TV reunion, utilizing virtually all of the surviving cast members ("Get Smart, Again!"), aired in 1989.

In the mid-90s, Fox brought "Get Smart" back for a short-lived series, again starring Adams and Feldon, along with the truly obnoxious Andy Dick and hottie Elaine Hendrix (whose dad, Tom, lived in Halls, and may still for all I know.) You know about this summer's big-budget film spoof starring Carell and Anne Hathaway. (I never could bring myself to see it. Maybe later on DVD.)

I found myself still laughing at "Get Smart," something that doesn't always happen when I revisit sitcoms I enjoyed as a kid. I give all the credit to creators Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, and the ever-inventive Adams.

Course, I should also tell you that this show -- sad to say -- is directly responsible for my becoming friends with high school buddy Dewayne Lawson. I still remember that he wrote something completely stupid in my 8th grade annual about getting straight A's and earning a "gold card" that was tied to Max's other catchphrase, "Would you believe...?"

Oh, well. Here's to you, Max. I look forward to solving another case or two real soon.

Oops. Gotta run. My shoe phone is ringing...must be the Chief with another case...

Season 1 of "Get Smart" is available on DVD from HBO.

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Blogger Dewayne said...

Actually, you wrote 'Would you believe,' and I wrote that I was 'this close to a Gold Card."

How/why do I remember these things.....

1:34 PM  

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