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DVD Review: ‘Get Smart’ The Complete Collection
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Get SmartGet Smart
The Complete Collection
5-Volume, 25-disc DVD Set
Created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry
Starring Don Adams, Barbara Feldon, Edward Platt
HBO Video/Time Life
On sale Nov. 2007

This massive 5-volume collection, available now from Time Life, includes all 138 original episodes of the 1960s TV sitcom created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, plus over nine hours of rare footage and bonus features, all in this 25-DVD box set. I’ve been spending the better part of the last few weeks plowing through each episode of the show (… and loving it), which starred Don Adams as secret agent Maxwell Smart (aka Agent 86) and Barbara Feldon as his beautiful, capable partner Agent 99.

Smart is a bumbling agent who, along with 99, works for the top secret organization CONTROL. In each half-hour episode, Smart manages — partly out of luck and partly from last-minute realizations — to foil attempts made by the evil international organization KAOS. The series, which ran for five seasons, is a spoof on spy shows and the James Bond character especially, with Smart being a well-dressed (Smart notes that he’s one of the 10 Best-Dressed Spies in the country) and suave ladies’ man, that is, when he’s not tripping over something or accidentally setting off a bomb. There’s plenty of secret missions and gadgets, some of which were innovative at the time, like Smart’s shoe phone (precursor to the cell phone, as Mel Brooks notes in the commentary for the pilot episode).

Not every TV series from the 1960s can translate to modern day in terms of relevancy and humor, but Get Smart still holds up today quite well, aside from a few cultural insensitivities (the show was made long before today’s political correctness standards) and Agent 99’s relegated role. Agent 99’s role is both empowering for that time (because she’s a smart, capable woman), yet degrading by today’s standards (while more intelligent and better at her job than Smart, 99 often defers to Smart and serves as an ego boast to him). But you can’t fault the show, since creating such a unique female lead role was progressive at the time.

One of the coolest parts of Get Smart are Smart’s classic catchphrases, which just scream “Mel Brooks comedy,” though apparently Adams was greatly responsible for a lot of Smart’s characteristics and development. From what I can tell, “The Day Smart Turned Chicken” is the first episode Smart says, “Sorry about that, Chief,” his standard line whenever he screws up and has to answer to his boss (who’s usually at his wit’s end with Smart). In that same episode, he also spouts another catchphrase, “Missed it by that much” while holding his thumb and index finger nearly touching.

Another typical Smart utterance is “Would you believe … ?” used for example when Smart tries to convince an enemy he has the upper hand. In “Kisses for KAOS,” a KAOS agent has Smart tied to a chair, threatening to shoot him. Smart tells his captor that he’ll never get away with his plans because at that very minute, 25 CONTROL agents are converging upon the building they’re in:

Smart: Would you believe it? 25 CONTROL agents.
KAOS Agent: I find that hard to believe.
Smart: Would you believe two squad cars and a motorcycle cop?
KAOS Agent: I don’t think so.
Smart: How about a vicious street cleaner and a toothless police dog?

Get SmartGet Smart is also known for its multitude of gadgets and gizmos, including the often-malfunctioning Cone of Silence, the various covert phones (shoe, plant, test tube, thermos — the list goes on), the smoke screen pill, the lighter gun, and tons more clever devices. There’s always a 50 percent chance that Smart will ingeniously use one of his handy gadgets to thwart a KAOS agent, but also the same odds apply that he’ll get caught up in his own trap and 99 will have to bail him out. When Smart gets it right, he’s prone to using the same techniques all the time, like in “Survival of the Fattest,” when he disarms his captor using a gun shaped like a finger. When the captor asks how Smart fired the shot, he replies, “The old finger-in-the-gun trick. That’s the second time I’ve used it this month.” Unfortunately, Smart is also prone to falling for the same tricks used on him over and over again (“The old garbage trick. That’s the second time it’s been pulled on me this year.”).

A great addition to the series was Victor French (Little House on the Prairie, Highway to Heaven) as CONTROL Agent 44, who frequently appeared in episodes in strange hiding places or bizarre scenarios, and at times, even cried about how awful his assignments were.

Some of my favorite episodes are in the earlier seasons, since the later seasons started to parody itself and had Smart and 99 as exaggerations of their characters (and had them finally fall in love and eventually marry and have a family). In “Satan Place,” Smart’s boss the Chief (Edward Platt) gets kidnapped by KAOS agent Harvey Satan and Smart and 99 have trouble raising the ransom money; in “My Nephew The Spy,” Smart’s aunt and uncle come for a visit just as a KAOS spy named Victor shows up to kill Smart and, in a very humorous turn, Smart actually gets Victor to pretend to be his old friend in an effort to hide from his relatives the fact that he’s an undercover agent; the two-part “Ship of Spies” sees Smart and 99 aboard a freighter ship searching for a killer among the ship’s six passengers, all of whom happen to make the same clip-clopping noise as the killer; and in the hilarious episode “A Spy for a Spy,” KAOs agent and magician Siegfried (played by Love Boat doctor Bernie Kopell) gets into a kidnapping battle with Smart, as they each abduct each other’s agents until only the two of them are left.

The Get Smart The Complete Collection is well worth the purchase price and provides hours upon hours of classic television at its best. It’s pure comedy genius and even without all the bonus features, this set is a must-have for Get Smart fans. The episode intros by Feldon and selected-episode commentary by the show’s cast and crew add a nice touch though, as does the creative DVD packaging (the box opens up in the same manner as the payphone portion of the show’s opening credits).

DVD Bonus Features

GET SMART: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION (25-DVD Set)
List Price: $199.96
Collection includes:
• 25 DVDs in special collectors packaging
• 5 eight-page booklets with liner notes written by actor Dave Ketchum (Agent 13) and Alan Spencer, creator of the TV comedy series “Sledge Hammer!” and contributor to the feature film “Get Smart Again”
• All 138 Original unedited episodes (1965-70) with new introductions by Barbara Feldon
• 9 Audio commentaries with Barbara Feldon, Mel Brooks, James Caan, Don Rickles, Buck Henry, Leonard Stern, Bernie Kopell, and Bill Dana
• 5 On-camera interviews with Barbara Feldon, Buck Henry, Bruce Bilson, Bernie Kopell, and Leonard Stern
• 5 Featurettes: “The Secret History of Get Smart,” “Barbara Feldon: Real Model to Role Model,” “Spooks, Spies, Gadgets and Gizmos,” “Code Words and Catch Phrases,” and “The Fans of Get Smart”
• Never-Before-Seen Bloopers!
• 2003 Museum of Television & Radio Get Smart Reunion seminar featuring Don Adams, Barbara Feldman, Bernie Kopell, Leonard Stern and Bruce Bilson
• Don Adams’ 75th Birthday Roast at the Playboy Mansion
• Footage from Don Adams’ 2005 memorial service with tributes from Barbara Feldon, Don Rickles and many others
• 5 Fun interactive features: CONTROL Entrance Exam, Max’s Apartment, The Chief’s Office, Agent 99’s Purse, Max’s Sunbeam Tiger
• Footage from all 7 EMMY® award wins and acceptance speeches
• 1964 “Top Brass” hair care TV commercial that won Barbara Feldon the Agent 99 role
• 1964 Clip from Don Adams’ guest-starring appearance on “The Bill Dana Show” – the Maxwell Smart character is born!
• Clips from Don Adams’ three guest-starring appearances on “The Andy Williams Show”
• Behind-the-Scenes footage, Get Smart promotional spots and much, much more!

Video Clips

Secret History Intro

Spy With No Name

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