Too Many Chiefs: The Old Doppelganger Trick

Victor French finds out how Maxwell Smart feels about insurance.

Episode 11
Too Many Chiefs (original air date: 11-27-65)
Cast: Tanya Lupescu – Susanne Cramer, Hodgkins – Bryan O’Byrne, Kaos Leader – Harry Basch, Insurance Man – Victor French, Cashier – Robert Karvelas, Aunt Rose – Rose Michtom, Fang – Red
Director:  Bruce Bilson
Writers:  Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso
Producer: Jay Sandrich
Filming Location: Paramount Studios, Hollywood

Synopsis: Control is charged with protecting witness Tayna Lupescu who is set to testify against Kaos – unfortunately that matter has been blasted in the newspapers. The Chief decides to put Ms. Lupescu under a more direct form of surveillance: in Max’s apartment. In the meantime, Kaos sends in master of disguise Alexi Sebastian to impersonate the Chief.

The real Chief chokes while the impostor makes a dash.

My Thoughts:
Classic television is probably the only universe where any one person can find themselves in a face-off with their exact double. This episode is the first of several in the series that uses this device. Others include: “The Spy Who Met Himself,” “And Only Two 99,” “The King Lives?” and the two-parter “To Sire, With Love.”

This episode’s villain, Alexi Sebastian, has never failed an assignment. He’s got away with impersonating a senator, a tennis champion, Johnny Carson, Max’s Aunt Rose and we still don’t know which of the Huntley & Brinkley news duo is really Sebastian. He does have one notable characteristic: Weak eyes. When exposed to bright light, he blinks excessively.

Sebastian eventually makes his way to Max’s apartment and manages to dupe 99 and the Chief – though not without an unwanted glass of buttermilk. The pantomime comes to a head when our duplicates have their face-off.

Max ends it all with his ah-ha moment. Remembering Sebastian has weak eyes, Max flashes a reading lamp in the air and shoots the man blinking at him.

Much of this episode centers around the silliness between Max and blonde bombshell Tayna Lupescu. Initially Ms. Lupescu rides the hard German stereotype, claiming Americans are soft due to their love of… well…. love.
In reality, Tayna’s a tease. After Tayna “shows” Max how little love and affection mean to her, he’s pretty much useless for the rest of the episode. In fact, he gets so distracted when she borrows his pajamas that he nearly shoots her.

As to be expected, 99 and her jealousy get thrown into the mix.

Max (who has Tayna’s lipstick smeared on his face): It’s really nothing 99. I was just showing Tayna a little Judo.
99 (sarcastically): It must have been pretty rough. I think she broke your lip.

We learn a few tidbits in this episode:

• Max has an Aunt Rose and an Uncle Harry.

• Also, of note, the painting of 99 that appeared in “The Day Smart Turned Chicken” is not in Max’s bedroom. It will reappear in “All in the Mind.”

• The Chief has an ulcer and only buttermilk can ease the misery.

• The Chief is married and his wife authored the rules on interrogating female agents.

• Tanya had been taken prisoner by Kaos for a week. At one point she was left alone in one of their offices where she managed to memorize a Kaos code book. She reveals proper names and countries equal the word marmalade. Control, however, had been working on jelly for the last two years.

Watch for: Our favorite Where’s Waldo Characters: Robert Karvelas and Aunt Rose.

Footnotes: 

Tayna shows Max how little love and affection mean to her.

• This episode marks the first appearance of Victor French, who would eventually play Agent 44 – the first reoccurring Control agent hidden in tight spots. TV viewers of the 1980s will best remember French as grizzled Mr. Edwards on Little House on the Prairie and Mark Gordon on Highway to Heaven. French appeared in a number of westerns as bad guys, including Rio Lobo with John Wayne.
• German actress Susanne Cramer appeared in a handful of American TV shows including The Man From U.N.C.L.E, Hogans Heroes and Bonanza.
• Harry Basch had reoccurring roles on Falcon Crest and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. He also appeared in two other Get Smart episodes, “The Only Way to Die” and “Age Before Duty.” Oh yeah, he was in two episodes of Mission Impossible and an episode of Star Trek.

Glick meter: Meet Max the womanizer. Don’t worry, we’ll see this act again throughout the series.

Oh Max meter: 99 makes a point of telling Max that he forgets she’s a woman.

Control Agents: Hodgkins, Fang, Cashier, Agent 48 (disguised as an elevator operator) and Agent 41 (the chamber maid that Max doesn’t trust).

Kaos Agents: Alexi Sebastian, Kaos Leader with four minions, the hotel desk clerk and the bell boy.

Gadgets: Telephone Gun, Fire Extinguisher Projector and the Cone of Silence returns. The chamber maid is also in possession of a broom gun.

Episode Locations: Unnamed hotel and Max’s apartment – which we learn is two minutes from the courthouse.

The Cone of Silence also offered a nice performance in this episode.

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