Get Smart

Get Smart

There were plenty of suave, debonair, capable secret agents on television during the 60s, but the world sorely needed a spy who was none of those things and hid a phone in his shoe. Thus, Get Smart was born. Created by Buck Henry and Mel Brooks, the series became a critical and popular success, and has maintained its pop culture niche to this day.

Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) was Agent 86 in the employ of CONTROL, a covert organization operating under the cover of a greeting card company. Smart was James Bond as seen through the eyes of Mel Brooks: that is to say, nothing like James Bond at all.

Agent 86 was mostly incompetent and quite thick but also blessed with loads of dumb luck that allowed him to save the day. His partner, Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon), was a vision of female loveliness, much more capable and intelligent than bumbling 86. Agent 99 didn’t seem to have a name of her own and was always referred to by number.

The two agents battled the evil forces of KAOS, a rival spy organization with a definite Soviet feel, who were as clueless and ineffectual as Maxwell Smart. Both sides possessed high-tech gadgets (it wouldn’t be a spy show without them) that often had a humorous twist to them. Smart’s shoe, for example, concealed a phone that rang at the most inopportune times and required the agent to take it off and hold it against his ear, in a most un-covert fashion.

Another gadget frequently shown was the Cone of Silence, an anti-eavesdropping device, which descended from the ceiling on to the agents’ head so they communicate without fear of unfriendly surveillance. The Cone of Silence, like many other devices, malfunctioned more often than not but Smart would not be deterred.

Other characters in Get Smart included the long-suffering Chief, played by Edward Platt, 86 and 99’s boss who got a daily dose of frustration in his dealings with the bumbling Maxwell Smart. Agents 13 and 44 also worked at CONTROL but got the shaft where assignment were concerned: while Smart was escorting the luscious 99 around, they were stuck inside washing machines, lockers and mailboxes, all in the line of duty. The villains mirrored bad guys made famous by the Bond franchise and included Dr. Yes and Bronzefinger.

The tone of Get Smart showcased slapstick and surrealism to the extreme, racking up the laughs with clever, funny dialogue and copious sight gags. Don Adams’s talent and comedic timing, as well as his chemistry with co-star Barbara Feldon, propelled the show through five successful seasons. Towards the end of its run, Agents 86 and 99 got married and had twins, giving hope to many bumblers out there that, yes, a hot spy girl may fall for you too one day.

If you grew up watching Get Smart and wishing that you could have your very own shoe phone or Cone of Silence, we hope you’ll share all of your memories of this beloved series in our comments section below.

One Response to “Get Smart”

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  1. Gina says:

    I love Get Smart!
    Some people seem to think getting a couple together, like 86 and 99, who started as friends and gradually became lovers, kills the show–they call it the “Moonlighting effect”. But “Get Smart”, an early example of getting partners in work to be partners in love, proves them wrong. The secret is having their relationship continue to develop. 86 & 99 went from friends, to fiancees, to newlyweds, to parents. Dave and Maddie just sort of floundered around.

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