Get Smart – Season 1

Posted on January 17, 2009

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Would you believe it's still funny?

You know how people say Star Trek foresaw the mobile phone, with the show’s communication devices? Well, did you know Get Smart predicted Apple Macintoshes? You doubt it, eh? Would you believe it inspired the brand names of Steve Jobs’ company and computers, almost 20 years before the first Apple Macintosh was released? No? How about it was purely coincidence that in Season 1 episode Too Many Chiefs, the Chief gives Max the call sign “Apple” and Max replies with the countersign “Macintoshes”?

Previously only available on DVD via Time-Life infomercials, the original 1960s TV series of Get Smart has finally made it onto store shelves courtesy of HBO and Warner Home Video, thanks, no doubt, to the cinema release of the Hollywood remake. And with timing like that, comparisons must be drawn. So: Steve Carell’s Maxwell Smart is fine, but no Don Adams’ Agent 86 (he missed it by that much), and while Anne Hathaway’s kickass Agent 99 may be more appealing to modern feminist sensibilities than Barbara Feldon’s smart, strong, sexy doormat who saves the day but happily lets Max take the credit, it’s hard to beat the original. After more than 50 years, it’s still funny; whether the film still holds its own in 2060 is anybody’s guess.

Still, the spy show spoof has aged, albeit gracefully for the most part. You notice it in the little things – things like the endless smoking, or how bras in the 60s were designed with Euclidean geometry in mind rather than comfort and support, or how yellow everybody’s teeth appear as soon as the series switches from B&W to colour; no manager would let their star out of the house these days without first polishing their fangs into retina-frying pearly whites.

The bottomless plot chasms, quaint FX and props, and economy-class production values are beside the point. It’s all about the tongue-in-cheek foot-in-mouth comedy – sly wit and slapstick – and the visual gags, catchphrases and one-liners. One liners like “We’re the best known secret agency in the county”; catchphrases like “would you believe…”, “sorry about that Chief”, “missed it by that much”, “and loving it”; and visual gags involving shoe phones, handkerchief phones, steering wheel phones, fire hydrant phones, hairdryer phones, test tube phones, gun phones, wallet phones and watch phones. Come to think of it, maybe Star Trek can’t take all the credit for the mobile phone…

Speaking of Star Trek, Leonard Nimoy appeared as a KAOS assassin in one early episode of Get Smart, before he boldly went where no man had gone before and joined William Shatner in pulling on the figure-hugging one-piece. I wouldn’t have recognised him – minus his Dr Spock ears and Ken-doll haircut – if it wasn’t for the episode introductions from the always sultry-voiced Barbara Feldon. Other bonus features include commentary from creators Mel Brooks and Buck Henry on episode one, a Secret History of Get Smart featurette, a blooper reel, a cast re-union and more.

I’m loving it.

Get Smart is released on DVD through Warner Home Video.

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Posted in: Comedy, DVD / TV