From the bookshelf: The Get Smart Handbook

The Get Smart Handbook. This one is a little rough around the edges.

There’s a lot of stuff going on this summer – and it’s leaving me with limited TV time.

That’s OK. In less than five months my surroundings could go back into polar vortex mode so it’s best to live up da Region’s few tolerable months of the year.

This brings me to another look at a Get Smart collectible. It could be considered more Get Smart in print, but I’m throwing all the books, paperbacks and comics in the collectibles category.

The Get Smart Handbook by Joey Green could be considered a “newer” collectible, though it’s been more than 20 years since it was in print. Published in 1993 by Collier Books, The Get Smart Handbook features historical information about the show, an episode guide, character bios and lists of Control agents, Kaos agents and gadgets.

How to use the Cone of Silence. One of the many illustrations in The Get Smart Handbook

Comments from Don Adams, Barbara Feldon, Dick Gautier, Dave Ketchem, Bernie Kopell, King Moody, William Schallert, Stacy Keach Sr., Leonard Stern, Mel Brooks and Buck Henry can be found throughout the book.

However… it has been noted that there are few boo-boos in this book. Over the years, thanks to repeated fan viewing, it was discovered that a number of the gadgets and Control and Kaos agents in the series weren’t listed in the book.

For a complete list of all those wonderful things, visit Carl’s wonderful site at www.wouldyoubelieve.com

Since the book came out during Nick at Nite’s run of Get Smart, I tend to wonder if that network’s edits of the show may have influenced what’s in this book versus what’s not.

Still, I think the book tried to capture Get Smart’s sense of fun and makes a nice viewer’s guide. It’s written in a humorous style and includes few amusing graphics, like the content of 99’s purse and, my personal favorite, Cone of Silence operating instructions.

The Get Smart Handbook has long been out of print, but copies are available for purchase through Amazon’s book sellers.

The book’s author, Joey Green, was a former contributing editor to National Lampoon. He went on to write 50 some books, including his Magic Brands series. You’ll likely find one of those on the shelf where your mom keeps her library of household hint books.

There are two other Get Smart books published prior to this one – The Life and Times of Maxwell Smart and the Get Smart Files, but I’ll discuss those in another post.

This appears to be some sort of promotional material sent to book sellers. There's an order form on the back.

Now I’m going to wax nostalgic.

Every summer in the 1990s we would make a pilgrimage back to the East Coast. It was a 12 hour drive and back then we didn’t have hand held devices that could contain all forms of entertainment. I usually made due with my Walkman and a handful of cassettes — and maybe I could re-read an issue of Seventeen or YM during the course of the journey.

July 1993 was no different -except it was wretchedly hot. I remember two things about that vacation. One, we took a side trip into the mountains in northern Pennsylvania where it actually cooled off at night. Two, it was on this particular vacation that I purchased the GS Handbook.

Since it had just come out, I found it readily available in a Walden Books in south central Pennsylvania. I hadn’t been specifically seeking it – I just got lucky on that trip to the mall.

Needless to say, this kept me out of everyone’s hair for the rest of the trip. Maybe that’s why my mom was willing to plunk down the 12 bucks for it. I still remember paging through this book while we were staying in our cabin-esque motel room in the mountains. *sigh* In recent years my copy has become a bit dog-eared and I’ve had to tape the pages back inside.

This clipping came from an issue of USA Weekend. But here's what's weird – the book pictured is different than the actual Get Smart Handbook. I've wasted time with silly nitpicking on this matter before. Check out Smartian Controversy 7 at www.ilovegetsmart.com/debate.html

KAOS in Control: When knowledge of TV shows pays off

Max isn't buying Alma Sutton's (Barbara Bain) claim that she watched Captain Kangaroo as a child.

Episode Seven
KAOS In Control (original air date: 10-30-65)
Cast: Professor Windish – Robert Cornthwaite, Hodgkins -Bryan O’Byrne, Alma Sutton – Barbara Bain, Henry Ratcheck – Ed Peck, Delegate 1 – Donald Lawson, Control agent – Robert Karvelas
Director: Don Richardson
Writers: Hal Goldman and Al Gordon
Producer: Jay Sandrich
Filming Location: Paramount Studios, Hollywood

Synopsis: Six top scientists are scheduled to meet in Control’s secure conference room, only someone in the building has been tampering with the door’s lock in an attempt to mold a key. Things get even more complicated when someone pilfers Professor Windish’s newly invented Electro-Retrogressor Gun — a device that once fired, leaves its target with the mental capacity of an 8 year old.

Max and 99 keep their eye on Agent 17. OK, I threw this one in because I like 99's coat.

My thoughts: This episode is probably known as “The one with Barbara Bain in it.” Of course, this aired before Mission Impossible graced TV screens. Really her part in this episode isn’t all too huge, yet it is amusing at the end when she goes skipping down the hallway Don Adams.

For what it’s worth, Bain’s husband at the time, and Mission Impossible co-star, Martin Landau also appears in the fifth season Get Smart episode, Pheasant Under Glass.

Now, on with the rest of the episode.

The running gag is Max’s battle with the security key chain attached to his pants. It sticks in every lock from his desk drawer to Control’s secure conference room. At one point he resorts to taking his pants off so the scientists can be let in the room. At least in the end the device serves as a weapon that prevents Alma Sutton from shooting him with the Electro-Retrogressor Gun.

The Electro-Retrogressor Gun is its own gag. It leaves Control’s authority figures pleading to go outside and play or crying for their mother. Professor Windish is quite proud of the invention – until he’s stunned by it and relives an apparently rotten childhood.

My favorite part of the episode, though, is the scene with the Magic Ear. Don Adams, in some media articles at the time, was described as a facial actor. This scene is an example of that. The bass drum scene in Our Man in Leotards is another example.

If you catch this episode, look for this scene. Once you’re done laughing at Adams’ rubber-faced depiction of pain, look at Feldon. Is she holding her hand at her mouth to act aghast or is she also trying to stifle a smirk?

The Cone of Silence gets some use in this episode – once at Max’s request and later when every device in the Chief’s office goes out of whack.

Chief: You know this thing doesn’t work. Why do you insist on using it?

Max: Well, for one thing, it’s 20 degrees cooler inside.

For his exemplary work, and knowing that Alma Sutton could not possibly have watched Captain Kangaroo as a tike because it wasn’t on TV then, Max is awarded a Certificate of Meritorious Service.

Max: Gosh Chief, I don’t know what to say.

Chief: Don’t say anything, Max. Just read it over, then destroy it.

Watch for: Don’t blink at the beginning of the episode or you’ll miss Robert Karvelas’ incognito appearance. Also, the flashing “Magenta Alert” light is used.

Footnotes:

Shhh! 86 and 99 sort out some kinks with the Magic Ear device.

• Character actor Robert Cornthwaite appeared in a number of TV series, typically playing scientists or lawyers. He appeared as Windish in two other GS episodes, “Our Man in Leotards” and “Satan Place.”
• Barbara Bain is probably best known for her role as Cinnamon Carter in Mission Impossible. She appeared in that series, with her then husband Martin Landau, from 1966 to 1969. From 1975 to 1977 Bain and Landau starred in the cult sci-fi series Space: 1999.
• Ed Peck typically played cops or military officers – such as Officer Kirk on Happy Days and Capt. Dennis McDermott on Benson. He appeared in the Star Trek episode “Tomorrow is Yesterday” and appeared in such movies as Bullitt and Heaven Can Wait.

Glick meter: Max really has problems with that stupid security key chain. Perhaps it should have come with some WD-40.

Oh Max meter: 99 just can’t get a kiss in edgewise. She and Max, as in previous episodes, try to have another moment – until duty interrupts it.

Control Agents: Hodgkins, Professor Windish, Henry Ratcheck, Agent 17 (disguised as monkey), plus two random armed Control agents – one of which is a mustachioed Robert Karvelas

Kaos Agents: Alma Sutton

Gadgets: Security key chain (a device more trouble than what it’s worth), the Cone of Silence, Electro-Retrogressor Gun, Magic Ear Listening Device, Pocket Disintegrator Pen, TV screen under the Chief’s desk blotter, golden frisking hands in the wall

Episode Locations: Control Headquarters

Professor Windish shows off his ill-fated Electro-Retrogressor Gun.

Exploding time bombs and Red Ball shoes

The Get Smart Exploding Time Bomb Game

I’ve been a busy girl here of late so I’m going to take a hiatus from episode blogs.

Instead I offer a peek at one of the older Get Smart toys – “Get Smart” The Exploding Time Bomb Game.

Fair warning: this entry is going to go off on few rabbit trails. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and grab some snacks.

The Exploding Time Bomb Game

The game was produced by Ideal in 1965. Some sources say 1966, however, my game clearly has 1965 printed on it.

Detail from inside the box.

 

An intact game includes a game board, a time bomb, 16 cards that assemble to form four Kaos agents, dice and four game movers in the shape of a tiny fedora wearing man. The mover is supposed to represent Maxwell Smart as up to four people can play the game, each being a competing Maxwell Smart. The Kaos agents are named Gunner Gus, Bomber Bill, Black Jack and Singapore Sam.

 

Scenes from the game board.

The box lid was illustrated by Ralph Pereida – except for the photograph of Max that was printed over it. Pereida authored a handful of drawing how-to books for the Grumbacher Art Library Series. I should have been familiar with those as my dad had a bunch of Grumbacher books from an art class he took.

According to Warman’s Americana & Collectibles, an intact game should fetch $75.

Now, the word “intact” is key when asking that price. Sadly my time bomb game is missing one key component – the time bomb. I’m also missing a couple of cards to the Kaos agents. I think I forked over between $30 and $40 for my game but certainly no more than that.

Yes it’s missing the time bomb, but I feel lucky to have this thing. Original Get Smart toys cost a pretty penny and when they do come up for auction on Ebay (which is ever so rarely) the bidding turns into all out war. 

I suppose I’m also lucky that when I bought the game, it arrived intact. I won this item on Ebay shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Everything was weird and awful then. Commerce was moving understandably slow. A week after Sept. 11 letters containing anthrax spores were sent to news outlets and two congressmen, killing five people and infecting 17 others. This certainly didn’t help mail delivery – or much of anything else at the time.

Don't in end up in the hospital.

The Red Ball Jolly Jets Treasure Hunt Game

Now here’s where I’m going to digress away from GS. It seems whenever I obtain a collectible game or puzzle I find some other junk in the box that doesn’t belong there.

The game board for the Red Ball Jolly Jets Treasure Hunt game.

 

When I opened up the Exploding Time Bomb Game, I found a small game board that resembled a treasure map and some tiny cardboard scraps with writing on them. I shrugged, threw it back in the box and left it sit for the last 14 years.

When I went to work on this blog, I found that random game board again and I took a closer look at it. My eyes zeroed in on two words at the bottom of the board: Mishawaka, Indiana. Seriously?

If you haven’t gathered, I live in Indiana and the one nearby metro area I enjoy spending time in is South Bend/Mishawaka. So this discovery merited more investigation on my part.

Called the Red Ball Jolly Jets Treasure Hunt Game, it was produced in 1964 by Ball-Band of Mishawaka. I’ve gathered, from a person that had the whole game on Ebay for about $20, that is was probably an advertising give away for Red Ball shoes.

Now let’s take a step back in time for a small history lesson. Ball-Band was formerly the Mishawaka Woolen and Rubber Company – which was incorporated in 1874. Its proper birth date is 1867 when Jacob Beiger purchased a wooden mill built in 1838.

The company’s main products over the years were rubber boots. The Ball-Band name came from the red ball added the black rubber band that ran around the top of their signature knit boot.

Among the variety of footwear produced were Red Ball Jets, a canvas rubber soled sneaker that was treated as the Air Jordan of its day. They were kind of like a pair of Chucks.

Sadly these shoes no longer exist. In 1950 Uniroyal became the parent company of Ball-Band. The company stopped making footwear and dissolved Mishawaka Woolen and Rubber Company in 1969. The plant closed in 1997.

There, now some of us have learned something new and a 50 year old GS collectible has proved to be the gift that keeps on giving. I wonder what other surprises I’ll find when I eventually go through the rest of my toys…

Here are a few more images of the Exploding Time Bomb Game:

Inside the box - some of my Kaos agents are missing.A close up of inside the box.The multi-colored game movers.

A close up of inside the box.

The multi-colored game movers.

The Old Jealous Spy Trick

The generals and the admiral react to Red Cloud's threat of war.

Episode Six
Washington 4, Indians 3 (original air date: 10-23-65)
Cast: Red Cloud – Anthony Caruso, White Cloud – Adele Palacios, Air Force General (Fred) -Willis Bouchey, Admiral (Harry) – William Zuckert, Army General Custer – Donald Curtis, Agent 43 – Monroe Arnold, Bridegroom – Armand Alzamora, Green Meadows – Barry Russo, Blue Skies – Roberto Contreras, Indian Chief – Robert Karvelas
Director: Richard Donner
Writers: Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso
Producer: Jay Sandrich
Filming Location: Paramount Studios, Hollywood

Synopsis: Chief Red Cloud issues an ultimatum to the United States: return all the land to his tribe or a state of war will exist. Max is assigned to infiltrate the tribe and winds up being mistaken for Red Cloud’s future son-in-law.

Max reluctantly follows 99's instructions. White Cloud was not impressed.

My Thoughts: There are a couple themes in this episode to note. The obvious one is this business involving Red Cloud and the “second biggest arrow” Max has ever seen. The idea of this episode seems ridiculous, but in the end it tries to make a point.

Max is wiling away the night shift at Control, his nose in a book on torture, when Agent 43 phones in with Red Cloud’s threat of war.

Ignoring that it’s the wee hours of the morning, Max takes command and calls a Maximum Mobilization Alert. In the process, he manages to wake up the Joint Chiefs of Staff -except for the Marine Corps general who has three weeks of leave.

The military leaders had a few ideas on the matter – namely saturation bombing of Arizona. They also mulled giving the country back to the tribe – or at least offering them New Jersey.

What I do find interesting about that scene is that while the generals are still buttoning their coats, the admiral is decked out in the uniform for a formal evening event. Perhaps the night was still young for him. Hmm…

Depending on which syndicated version you watched, parts of this episode ended up being cut — most notably the bit about the giant arrow landing in the west wing of the White House.

GS had a habit of subtly touching on social issues, hence the conversation Max had when he tried to talk Red Cloud out of launching the massive arrow:

Max: Let’s think of the past -when you ruled the great plains with your buffalo… and then came our settlers… and then our soldiers.
Red Cloud: (gives an offended look)
Max: Maybe we’d better forget about the past. The present, that’s what counts. Look what we’ve given you in the present – these nice tiny little reservations.
Red Cloud: (shoots Max another offended look)
Max: Let’s talk about the future, Red Cloud. If we take the promises of the past and join them with the polices of the present, then there’s only one thing left to say…Let ‘er rip, Red Cloud.

In other matters, this episode is considered to be the point where we see that 99 has a crush on Max. Although, every previous episode had the pair experience a failed kiss attempt. Also, there were already moments where 99 has slid up to Max and engaged in a bit of eye-batting and such.

Nevertheless, 99’s displeasure at Max being mistaken for White Cloud’s fiance is funny. Certainly 99 is not amused at the situation and when Max asks how to woo White Cloud, she instructs him to kiss the girl on the elbow.

As usual, 99 intervenes at the critical moment – well 15 minutes away from critical – and barges into Red Cloud’s tent with guns blazing. 99 orders everyone to back off. Then she glares at White Cloud.

99: You! Get furthest away!

Watch for: Check out Red Cloud’s tepees – one has all kinds of electronic do-dads and the other looks like a 1960s living room – complete with TV. This episode also gives us a New Jersey joke.

Footnotes:

A jealous 99 barks a command at Max.

• Richard Donner went on to direct the likes of Superman, The Oman and Lethal Weapon. He also directed another Get Smart episode, “Our Man in Leotards.”
• Uncredited, Robert Karvelas appears as a chief on the war council
• A fellow Hoosier, Anthony Caruso typically played villains, Italians, Indians, Arabs, Persians, Mexicans, Latinos and Native Americans. He played Bele in the Star Trek episode “A Piece of the Action” and Leonard Morgan in the Mission Impossible episode “Shape-Up.”
• Willis Bouchey appeared in numerous films and TV series. He was a favorite of director John Ford, appearing a number of his films, including The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
• Character actor William Zuckert got his start in radio. He went on to have parts in such movies as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Hang ‘Em High. He also appeared as the Star Trek episode “Spectre of the Gun.”
• Donald Curtis’ acting credits include The Ten Commandments. He was also known as a writer and lecturer on Indian religions.
• Monroe Arnold appeared in the movie Fitzwilly which starred Barbara Feldon.
• Barry Russo had parts in scores of TV shows in the 60s and 70s. Yes, he was on Star Trek twice – in “The Ultimate Computer” and “The Devil in the Dark.” He was also in a handful of Mission Impossible episodes.
• Roberto Contreras, known for playing Pedro in the High Chaparral, also appeared in such films as Scarface and Topaz. And… he too was in a handful of Mission Impossible episodes.

Glick meter: Max spends a bit of time dwelling on the fact that everyone had three weeks of vacation but him.

Oh Max meter: 99 declares that 86 is worth two 43s.
Control Agents: Agent 43 and mentioned: Forsythe, Harrison and Saunders

Kaos Agents: None

Gadgets: Micro Camera, Electric Snake, Tiny Radio Receivers, Saddle Transmitter and a book on Indian Lore.

Episode Locations: Red Cloud’s remote reservation in Arizona

Yes, that's Robert Karvelas doing an uncredited photobomb behind Red Cloud.

When seeing is believing

The old gun on the wire trick.

Episode Five
Now You See Him – Now You Don’t (original air date: 10-16-65)
Cast: Ehrlich – Joseph Ruskin, Dr. Carl Haskell – Gregory Morton, Kaos Agent 1 – Val Avery, Kaos Agent 2 – John Sebastian, Sophie – Donna Walsh
Director: Paul Bogart
Writers: Arne Sultan and Marvin Worth
Producer: Jay Sandrich
Filming Location: Paramount Studios, Hollywood

Synopsis: Kaos allegedly abducts Invisibility Ray inventor Dr. Carl Haskell and tries to convince Max that the device is real -and the U.S. government should pay $10 million for it. Max is almost duped into believing he’s been made invisible – until 99 shows up and hints otherwise.

Max and 99 succumb to the effects of the Sleeping-Gas Chair.

My Thoughts: This episode initially comes off as absurd. It’s usually one I skip. When this one’s number came up, my thought was “Do I have to?” Maybe I just don’t like Max being scammed by Kaos. After all, the poor guy can make a fool out of himself easy enough on his own. This won’t be the last time Max falls for a hoax — just wait until we get to “The Day Smart Turned Chicken.”

There are a quite a few “firsts” in this episode. This is the first time we get to see the inside Max’s apartment, the first time we get to see him in his “86” embellished bathrobe and the first time the Chief pinches the bridge of his nose in frustration.

Chief: Max, do you have something for a headache?
Max: You know Chief, you ought to go to the doctor. You’ve been getting these headaches quite often lately.
Chief: Only on occasions, Max.
Max: You’ve had one every time I’ve been with you.
Chief: Those are the occasions.

Through the use of wires, joy sticks and a speaker system, Kaos dupes Max into thinking he’s dealing with a real invisibility ray and invisible people. It’s a bit hokey, but this is par for the course with first season GS. At least our friendly neighborhood Kaos agents take the time to explain the hoax -and how the floating gun in the episode’s tag was supposed to have worked.

The scenes involving Max’s booby trapped apartment are the episode’s better moments. With the exception of the ever malfunctioning Invisible Wall (that was Control’s doing), Max created every hidden defense mechanism in the apartment.

The devices work well during their trial run for the Chief. However, not all of them operate as needed when Max is trying to dispose of Ehrlich. *Sigh* I think Max still deserves props for his ingenuity.

The Sleeping-Gas Chair is the gag saved for last. In the process of demonstrating the device, Max manages to gas himself and 99. What happened afterward is up to the imagination.

Max: I think we can make it to the door. I think we can make it to the door.

Watch for: How Max’s signaling at the window fails: The Zippo won’t light so Haskell lights Max’s cigarette with his own, leaving Max to hope his smoke will suffice a a signal.

What net?

Footnotes:
• Character actor Joseph Ruskin appeared in Star Trek and all of its spin-offs. In Star Trek TOS he appears as Galt the Master Thrall in “The Gamsters of Triskelion.” Also appearing in that episode is Angelique Pettyjohn who will play Control Agent Charlie Watkins. And for all the spy fans, he appeared in several Mission Impossible episodes.
• Gregory Morton appeared in numerous TV series. He also appeared in the movie Bye Bye Birdie which starred Dick Gautier who would later play Hymie the Robot in Get Smart.
• Val Avery appeared in more than 100 movies and more than 300 TV series including The Magnificent Seven and several episodes of Mission Impossible.

Glick meter:  The. Whole. Episode.

Oh Max meter: We get a sympathetic “Oh Max” when 99 watches 86 slam his face into the Invisible Wall. And then there’s the Sleeping-Gas Chair…

Control Agents: No additional agents in this one

Kaos Agents: Ehrlich, Haskell, Sophie and the other two hoods

Gadgets: All found in Max’s apartment – Invisible Wall, Swinging Lamp, Rigged Desk Drawer, the “Man Trap” (net that drops from the ceiling), Rigged Fire Place (a fan sucks objects into the chimney) and the Sleeping-Gas Chair.

Episode Locations: Max’s apartment, Ehrlich’s hideout

Pay no attention to the Kaos agents behind the curtain.