A tale about a pair of lenses

Webmasters note: This is an off topic post 🙂

A somewhat obsessive habit of mine is taking photos in my fair city. On one such outing last spring I scored a good one — a shot of a paddle boarder gliding through the sunset. In December I was honored to have won a Hoosier State Press Association award for that photo.

I had mentioned, after announcing this in December, that there was something of a story leading up to how the photo came to be. It’s probably not the type of story you’re expecting. This yarn really starts with a need for new lenses -and not the kind that go with cameras.

Recently I’ve been sporting my spectacles more — rather than only wearing them at night and out of sight. This may not sound like a big deal. In fact, it may come off as a little odd that I would hide such a thing. Hear me out.

I’ve worn glasses since I was two – and probably should have had them before that. My eyesight, which was inherited through my paternal grandmother, is what’s usually referred to as extreme or severe myopia. Without correction, life looks like a large cloud. More information on the likes of high myopia be found here.

I wear high power/high index lenses. These are a different animal compared to most glasses. In the old days someone with extreme myopia would be stuck with the the thick “coke bottle” lenses. Now high index lenses, which make the lens appear less thick, are available. However, they’ll cost you and in my case they’re still not as thin as the average pair of glasses.

As an added bonus, when you have a high prescription like I do, your face ends up looking distorted. In the case of extreme nearsightedness, the eyes wind up looking smaller and out of proportion to the rest of the face. It’s enough of an issue that Wikipedia wrote an entry about facial distortion and social stigma.

My bespectacled youth wasn't pretty. Even cool 1990s lasers couldn't save me.

Again, this may not seem like such a big deal, however, glasses, when I first started wearing them, weren’t the fashion accessories they are today. There weren’t hipsters walking around wearing horned rimmed frames with no lenses. Instead, there were kids either shunning you or straight up informing you that, yes, you were ugly. Sorry, no spots at the lunch table for you – or much of any other socialization for that matter.

During my freshman year of high school I made the switch to contacts. I found, after the switch, some people didn’t know who I was – even though I had gone through junior high with them. Other people that previously gave me the brush-off actually spoke to me. I still wasn’t in the “in” crowd, but at least I wasn’t treated as a complete pariah.

Life got to a point where I kept the fact that I had a vision problem a secret. On the occasions I did have to wear them, I’d either warn who I was with or attempt to joke that I wore coke bottles. To be frank, I was really embarrassed by my glasses. I figured if someone saw me in thick specs they’d quickly deem me as ugly and then associate me with all the stereotypes: Nerdy, smart, bookish, blah, blah, blah.

Contacts, though, have their hang ups. They can only be worn for a few hours during the day, they get stuck in your eyelid, you spend most of your free time cleaning them and they can be subject to many an unfortunate accident. I once had a pair that someone washed down the bathroom sink —  which was basically like finding out my eyes had gone down the drain. While they’re preferred for aesthetic reasons, they’re really a pain in the ass.

Coke bottle glasses and contact lens problems are actually the least of the woes associated with extremely high myopia. Each time you visit your eye doctor they dutifully recite the signs of a retinal detachment. That speech is usually followed by a lovely eye dilation – which in turn is followed by sunglasses and blurry vision for the bulk of the day.

Usually I would go about my business after that discussion – and dilation. This last doctor visit was different. Other matters, which I won’t detail here, were discussed. I found myself looking at a reality I couldn’t push to the back of my mind as I had before. The future, which should have the promise of some moments of color, had also clouded over.

This brings us to an image of a paddle boarder taking his evening trip around an Indiana lake.

Eh?

After that day’s doctor visit, my husband, daughter and I, still wearing the darkest shades I owned, decided to take our evening walk around the lake a couple blocks from our house. I never know what I’ll see on one of these walks, so on some nights I take my cell phone – which has a pretty decent camera. On other nights I skip the cell phone and take a better camera – a Nikon DSLR. This, thankfully, was one of the “other” nights.

We walked down to the lake and made our way to a small bay. I spied a fishing boat and then took in the colors the setting sun was casting on the lake. In one narrow stream it was a ray of pinks.

I then noticed a paddle boarder approaching the ray of sunlight. I’d seen him before -and photographed him on a previous outing. I wasted no time with doing the same and was thankful I had my camera’s settings where I wanted them. Just as soon as he was in my frame, he was out of it. That guy was not fooling around.

Once I finished up, I checked my chip. It was like a gift: I had one shot where the paddle boarder was in that red and pink beam of sunlight. The following shots were of him making his way over to a boat occupied by fishermen.

Viel Glück!

A couple days later the newspaper I work for ran the photo as stand alone odd art. We also used a few of the other images that came out of that moment for some of our special sections.

Spring eventually gave way to late summer and I had forgotten about that image – until my colleagues started working on their Hoosier State Press Association contest entries. While touching base with the editor compiling all those entries, I decided to chuck it into the mix. Props, by the way, go to that editor for helping me – and all the work he did with compiling the entries.

In the fall, a few of us were pleasantly surprised to learn we had won HSPAs -although we wouldn’t find out exactly what we had won until we attended the conference in December. I was indeed surprised to have won a first since I’m not considered a photographer.

In the end it was nice that, for a little bit, a shiny moment took the focus off of a dark moment.

This graphic shows the before, during and after of the paddle boarder riding into the sunset.

*This is Kaos. We don’t talk about our diopters here.

The Old Spy in the Santa Suit Trick

The Old Spy in the Santa Suit Trick. Yes, that's Maxwell Smart hiding behind the beard.

Christmas is here – which is why this blog has found itself in a lull.

In my world, Christmas started up in October when I began preparing for my family’s handmade ornament exchange. From there it spun into digging out the decorations, sorting the decorations, mulling over which decorations to use and where to put them and finally, setting up the decorations. We still need to put the garland on the porch. Maybe we’ll get to that next weekend. 😉

The topic of Christmas naturally takes me to Get Smart. No, really, this is legit considering that, back in the early days of ilovegetsmart.com, I used to get all kinds of emails from people seeking shoephones for Christmas gifts.

Santa actually made a couple appearances in Get Smart.

Agent 86 collects intelligence from Agent 12.

St. Nick’s initial cameo was in the first season episode, Our Man in Toyland.

Santa in this case is Agent 12, one of the agents Control has stationed in Bowers Department Store, which is a Kaos front.

Max has a few moments seated on Agent 12’s lap, discussing enemy courier Leopold. They keep the exchange brief, so they don’t look suspicious. Uh huh. Before Max leaves, Agent 12 offers him a lolly.

Max tries to explain his choice of disguises. 99 tries not to laugh.

The next Santa appearance is in the fourth season episode, a Tale of Two Tales.

When Max learns that 99 is on a mission – and could be in danger – The Chief allows him to tail her. Despite it being August, Max disguises himself as a Santa posted by a donation kettle. 99 initially mistakes him for a Kaos agent -until he tries to rescue her from an actual Kaos agent.

Max later explains, since it was the night of the Control costume party, all the good costumes were taken. At least he wasn’t stuck with a chicken suit.

The topic of Get Smart Santa cameos naturally brings us to Elf on the Shelf.

Max and Red the Elf exchange some top secret Christmas information.

Huh?

Sure it does. Just work with me.

If you have a child in your life, you probably know all about Elf on the Shelf. You may think the concept is cute. You may find it annoying because you forget to hide the darn thing. Or, you see it as an opportunity to resurrect your own toys and collectibles.

We’ve had an elf named Red for the past two Christmases. If I remember to hide him, he ends up in the typical spots: The tree, on a shelf or the mantel. I do take one day for bit of fun where he meets up with Maxwell Smart.

Last year we saw Max and Red have a secret bookshelf meeting to exchange clandestine information. In the process, they positioned themselves in front of all the espionage related literature they could find.

This year they gathered around a small Christmas tree decorated with even smaller GS-themed ornaments. Said tree went to work with me and found a home on my desk. Everyone else in the newsroom either scratched their heads or considered the source.

As for next year’s Elf/GS adventure? Right now I’m just trying to remember where I last hid the little guy.

Merry Christmas!

Red the Elf offers Maxwell Smart some tree decorating advice.

The old spy in the dog suit trick

One of the individuals in this train compartment is a Kaos agent.

Episode 13
Aboard the Orient Express (original air date: 12-11-65)
Cast: Countess Rifchevsky – Carol Ohmart, Agent 44 – Victor French, Demetrios – Theo Marcuse, Ernst – Bill Glover, Dr. Minelli – Del Close, Porter – Maurice Marsac, Courier – Jack Donner and Special Guest Conductor – Johnny Carson
Director: Frank McDonald
Writers: Robert C. Dennis and Earl Barret
Producer: Jay Sandrich
Filming Location: Paramount Studios, Hollywood

Synopsis: Control is having a problem getting its payroll to all its freelance agents working behind the Iron Curtain: The couriers carrying the cash keep turning up dead. Max is tasked with hauling a half million dollars in a briefcase chained to his wrist -and finding the identity of Kaos agent Krochanska.

Control's special weapons adviser Dr. Minelli (Del Close) preps Agent 86 for a gas of a mission.

My Thoughts:
This episode is the one with Johnny Carson in it – well, one of a couple episodes. Carson shows up again for a brief cameo in the third season episode, “The King Lives?” On the Orient Express, he’s in a handful of scenes -namely to stamp passports and clean up carnage.

The Chief initially plans to enlist 99 as the next courier, providing her with a security briefcase containing the payroll, a handcuff and a 5,000 volt charge that would shoot through anyone trying to purse snatch. Agent B-12, stationed in the Baltics, has the only key to the handcuff and is set to intercept the briefcase when the courier gives him the password Tanganyika.

We later see that the fancy security briefcase doesn’t stand up to much of a scuffle, so all this scary build up about electrocution, deafening alarms and threats of amputation amounted to squat.

Once upon a college psych paper on the topic of how TV influences gender roles in children, I used the following exchange to illustrate how 1960s TV bosses were reluctant to give their female employees dangerous assignments:

Chief: The enemy knows we must send another courier. Our one chance is that they won’t be expecting a woman.
99: I know. I’ll do the best I can.
Chief: It will require intelligence, determination and icy nerves.
99: Will I be issued a destruct pellet?
Chief: Yes, 99.
Max: Wait a minute, Chief! You’re not thinking of sending her! She’s a woman!
99: (smiles at what he has said) Thank you!
Chief: Being a woman is the reason we chose her. Four men have failed!

After this, Max manages to accidentally handcuff himself to the briefcase. 99 calls his action bravery. Likely it was simply stupidity.

99: Max, that was the noblest, bravest, most heroic thing I’ve every seen. Thank you.

86 doesn’t give 99 much of response outside of a weak smile. He had other thoughts after she left the room.

Max: Maybe I could soak my wrist…

Tonight Show host Johnny Carson busied himself with passport stamping on the Orient Express.

In other matters, we’re introduced to Agent 44 who is hiding in the medicine cabinet in Max’s train compartment. After a bit of whining about how he hasn’t been paid in five months, 44 manages to mooch some cash off the usually cheap Agent 86. Agent 44 then proceeds to charge Max for the secret messages he’s supposed to distribute – they’re $5 a message or three for $10 and leave a bitter aftertaste if you have to eat them.

Max spends the rest of the episode trying to sniff out Krochanska from a train car full of suspects. His choices are a snotty French porter, a blind hat salesman and British spy named Ernst or the Countess Rifchevsky.

The answer was none of the above. Krochanska turned out to be Ernst’s service dog, Cyril. The pooch was given orders from Kaos agent Demetrios to chomp on a poison gas pellet that had no effect on dogs but was lethal to humans.

I’ve always liked this episode – Johnny Carson nonchalantly walking into the trashed compartment at the end gives me a giggle. However, some of the scenes seem a bit… abrupt… at times. I notice this most with 99’s appearance on the train.

The episode concludes back in the Chief’s office where the conversation trails from the fate of the double agent dog (he was adopted by a nice family) to the union benefits of overseas Control agents.

Watch for: Johnny Carson’s cameo.

Max and 99 work on narrowing down their suspects - and their expressions of horror.

Footnotes:
• The episode title is a reference to Agatha Christie’s novel, Murder on the Orient Express, which featured Christie’s detective Hercule Poirot.
• The incomparable Johnny Carson served as host of the Tonight Show for 30 years.
• This is Victor French’s first shot as Agent 44. He continued the role as the hidden agent until Dave Ketchem came aboard as Agent 13. Agent 44 returns in the fifth season, but the part was then played by Al Molinaro.
• Carol Ohmart, known for starring in film noir and horror films, was promoted by Paramount as the next Marilyn Monroe. She appeared in a handful of TV shows, including a few roles on 77 Sunset Strip.
• Known for playing villains, Theo Marcuse appeared in a bevy of TV shows, most frequently in The Wild Wild West and The Man From Uncle. He also appeared in an episode of Star Trek.
• Bill Glover’s credits include a number of appearances on TV shows and two soap operas – General Hospital and Santa Barbara.
• A director of Second City, Del Close was a mentor to many well known comedians. His movie credits include Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and American Graffiti.
• Maurice Marsac was the all-purpose player of French parts on TV. Marsac returns to Get Smart for the third season episode, “99 Loses Control.” He also appeared in Mission Impossible.
• Jack Donner has a lengthy TV resume including a reoccurring role on General Hospital, several appearances on Mission Impossible and as Romulan Subcommander Tal on Star Trek. He even appeared on Scare Tactics.

Glick meter: Max accidentally handcuffs himself to the security briefcase – and he develops an appetite for paper.

Oh Max meter: 99 chooses to believe that 86’s screw-up with the security briefcase was simply chivalry.

Control Agents: Agent 44, Agent 85, Dr. Minelli, Agent B-12 (mentioned)
Kaos Agents: Demetrios, George Robinson (mentioned – agent in drag from the Kaos Hawaiian branch), Cyril Krochanska

Gadgets: Destruct Pellet (mentioned by 99, not actually issued), security briefcase, Bowler Gas Mask, Ladies Gas Mask hat, Straddler Shoes

Episode Locations: Would you believe Lichtenstein?

Tickets please: Mr. Conductor informs 86 and 99 that poison gas and dead bodies are no match for what's in compartment 13.

Family gatherings can be ‘Kaos’

Full house: Max keeps his gun trained on a Kaos agent (Conrad Janis) while trying to entertain his visiting aunt and uncle.

Episode 12
My Nephew The Spy (original air date: 12-4-65)
Cast: Victor- Conrad Janis, Uncle Abner – Charles Lane, Aunt Bertha – Maudie Prickett, salesman – Vincent Beck
Director: Bruce Bilson
Writers: Arne Sultan and Marvin Worth
Producer: Jay Sandrich
Filming Location: Paramount Studios, Hollywood

Synopsis: While shoe shopping, Max just happens to uncover a Kaos front at Larsen’s Shoes and winds up with Kaos agent Victor hot on his trail. In the middle of the commotion, Max’s Aunt Bertha and Uncle Abner arrive on his doorstep.

Don't answer that! One of many times Max's shoephone will blow his identity.

My Thoughts:
So much for date night.

The episode opens with Max shopping for new shoes and anticipating going to dinner and a concert with 99. In the meantime he’s been busy trying to locate a spy ring. His shoe store, as it turns out, is just the Kaos front he’s been looking for – only he comes to that conclusion after his shoephone gives him away. Clearly the device was jealous of Mr. Smart’s new footwear.

Max soon finds out that his Aunt Bertha and Uncle Abner are going stop by for a “surprise” visit – which he was warned about thanks to Control’s crack intelligence gathering efforts. The catch is that he can’t let his relatives find out what he does for a living.

Abner and Bertha are about what we would expect from sitcom relatives that make unannounced visits. Abner comes off as cranky and sarcastic, while Bertha is mostly overbearing. Both waste no time in taking over Max’s apartment and yet neither of them wish to claim him as their nephew.

Bertha: My sister’s son? I thought he was your sister’s son?
Abner: I don’t think so. I hope not.

This is the only time in the series where we meet one of Max’s relatives. While Mel Brooks was adamant that Max have no mother, I think the occasional appearance of a random relative could have been interesting.

Later on in the series, 99 was granted a mother, played by Jane Dulo, in a handful of episodes.

Agent 99 was dressed to the nines - and all for naught.

Agent 99 gets a raw deal in this episode. She has grand plans of a date that just doesn’t happen. Having to waste time dealing with Victor is bad enough, but everything goes south with Max tells his relatives that 99 is the maid. Way to go Max.

Bertha’s behavior is over the top – she makes 99 clean the windows by precariously perching on Max’s windowsill. After ending up with her pretty gown trashed, 99 finally snaps when Bertha instructs her to wax the floors. We almost get to see 99 wallop Bertha with a dust pan – until Max intervenes.

In other matters, there are a few fun moments in the Chief’s office – when Max isn’t setting the trash can on fire.

The Cone of Silence gets some exercise – even though Max has nothing to say (literally) that merits its use.

Chief: If you had nothing to report, why did you insist on lowering that?
Max: Rule 13 says –
Chief: Max, why do you always have to live by the rules?
Max: Because rule 27 says you must always live by the rules of the book.

Max also introduces his own invention: Dial-A-Fact – a device for tired agents who are always on the go. The user turns a dial on the briefcase that holds the files. Then the needed information pops up without the agent having to sift through messy files.

Oh yes, and then there are the periodic wrestling matches between Max and Victor. This all comes to and end with a battle royale of sorts in the back room of Larsen’s Shoes. Between blows Max has keep his relatives thinking he’s a store employee. Talk about multitasking.

In the end, Max leaves the bad guys in an unconscious pile, finds that top secret information is written in code on the inside of the shoes – including plans for a missile and finds a new pair of shoes for Abner.

Watch for: Check out that pile of shoes Max has tried on at the beginning of the episode. I’m surprised he didn’t request something in a tan.

Max's Dial-A-Fact invention - it's like a 1960s version of a search engine.

Footnotes:
• Conrad Janis is best known for playing Mindy’s dad in the sitcom Mork & Mindy. He appeared in The Buddy Holly Story and The Cable Guy and also had reoccurring roles on Frasier and Quark.
• Character actor Charles Lane appeared in hundreds of films, usually cast a a scowling wretch. His film credits include the likes of It’s A Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. He also appeared in numerous TV shows, including two episodes of The Bill Dana Show.
• Maudie Prickett was known for playing busybodies and maids – kind of ironic considering her role in this episode. She had a reoccurring role as a maid in the series Hazel and had a role as a maid in the movie North by Northwest, in which Ed Platt also appeared. She also appeared in the fifth season Get Smart episode, “Moonlighting Becomes You.”
• Vincent Beck appeared in a number of TV shows and can be seen in the cult classic, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

Glick meter: Max should not be allowed to play with matches.

Oh Max meter: 99’s purrs have no effect on Victor.

Control Agents: Hodgkins is asked to operate the Cone of Silence

Kaos Agents: Victor and the un-named Kaos agent/shoe salesman

Gadgets: Gadgets in Max’s apartment: Rigged Desk Drawer, the Man Trap, Swinging Lamp and the Roll-Up Rug.’Wrist Communicator T37 and the Cone of Silence both return in this episode. Max offers his own invention: Dial-A-Fact.

Episode Locations: Larsen’s Shoes, Max’s Apartment

Max learns how Kaos is smuggling classified information. He probably also learns that retail is a brutal business.

From page to screen: Get Smart marks 50 years

Maxwell Smart answers his shoephone for the first time on Sept. 18, 1965. Would you believe for the second time?

Fifty years ago this week a few of spyfi’s noted 60s TV shows were birthed – I Spy, The Wild Wild West and Get Smart.
It was on Sept. 18, 1965 that viewers may have tuned into NBC and found themselves watching the beginning of a black and white show, which starts off with a tuxedoed man sitting at concert next to his elegantly dressed and perfectly coiffed date. Then a phone rings. People stare. He excuses himself and takes the call in the nearest closet, where it’s revealed that the ringing is coming from a phone in, of all places, his shoe.
We learn from that one-sided conversation this character is a spy. We’re clued in early on that he’s an awkward person, since he can’t help but get stuck in the closet before driving off to his assignment. What we don’t learn is what happened to that woman he left back in the concert hall, but that’s just how Get Smart rolls.

Don Adams and Barbara Feldon in Get Smart's pilot episode.

The seeds to Smart were planted by Dan Melnick, a partner in the New York-based production firm of Talent Associates. The other partner in Talent Associates was David Susskind.
With spies galore on screen, Melnick felt the world was ready for James Bond and the like to be parodied.
Melnick initially approached Mike Nichols to work on the project, but the logistics didn’t work out.
He then contacted his pal Mel Brooks and, following that, brought Buck Henry into the fold. He pitched the idea to ABC, which gave Talent Associates the funds for a screenplay.
“We wrote this take off on spy stories. We figured the people running our country were completely inept and we’d show the world,” Brooks noted in an audio commentary of the pilot.
The group worked out the nuts and bolts of the show, namely that their version of James Bond should be named Maxwell Smart – because he wasn’t smart.

Prior to netting the role of Maxwell Smart, Don Adams played Byron Glick on The Bill Dana Show. The rest of the cast included Maggie Mancuso, Jonathan Harris and Bill Dana.

“We…gave him, as his most sterling quality, a remarkable lack of insight,” said Henry, as stated in The Life and Times of Maxwell Smart.
Since secret agents of the day were all about code numbers, they gave Smart the number 86 – the signal bartenders use to cut off service to drunks.
It took Brooks and Henry three and a half months to write the script – a processes mostly worked out over Henry’s pool table.
“We could have done it in a week, but we loved playing pool,” said Brooks.
Getting Smart from page to screen was a bit of a process, part of which was meeting the desires of the network. At some point in that process ABC suggested adding a dog to the cast – and a mother.
Brooks’ opposition to Max having a mother, in most writings about Get Smart’s back story, has been well stated. He and Henry did relent on the matter of a dog – only they made sure this dog would be the antitheses of Lassie.
ABC’s head of programming, Edgar Scherick, didn’t find the script funny. Some reports have quoted him as calling the script “un-American,” however, he denied that statement. Still, ABC gave Smart a no-go.
“ABC commissioned this pilot. Somebody looked at it and said, no, it’s creepy. It’s not funny. It’s basically un-American,” Henry noted in an audio commentary of the pilot.
Some may respond to that with a well earned, “Seriously?” However, lately I don’t think today’s social conscious is so different. That script revolved around a terrorist plot to blow up the Statue of Liberty. In our post- 9-11 world, Americans may have a hard time immediately grasping that concept as funny. Given how our current culture is so eager to be offended, I’ve also wondered if the idea of a spy satire would have been spiked entirely.
ABC’s good opinion really didn’t matter. Talent Associates, which had brought in Leonard Stern to head its west cost operation, moved on – specifically to NBC.
There were some minor tweaks NBC wanted – and one rather significant change. Earlier in the process, when the team presented the show to ABC, Tom Poston was named to play the lead. NBC, however, had an actor they wanted to play Smart: Don Adams.
Adams was under contract with NBC after the sitcom he had co-starred in, The Bill Dana Show, was canceled. As the story goes, Adams had a year to pick and choose a pilot – and was waiting for a possible Sheldon Leonard produced project. Instead he was asked if he’d consider a script about a bumbling James Bond. He was initially hesitant. When he found out Brooks and Henry were the writers, he agreed to do it without even reading the script.
Adams brought elements from his stand-up routine to the mix, specifically his exaggerated impression of actor William Powell and the “Would you believe” gag, which had been created by writer Bill Dana. While the part wasn’t originally intended for Adams, Henry has described the casting as serendipitous and Brooks called it a wonderful marriage.
“I think the energy behind it all…the jet engine… was Don Adams, who really believed in what he was doing,” said Brooks. “He could work from morning to night and never quit.”

A pre-99 Barbara Feldon pitching Top Brass hair cream.

The part of Smart’s femme fatale, the never-named Agent 99, was written with actress Barbara Feldon in mind. Prior to spots on such shows as The Man From Uncle, Mr. Broadway and the Talent Associates produced series East Side/West Side, Feldon garnered fame for crawling on a tiger skin rug to pitch Top Brass hair cream.
Chosen to play 86 and 99’s boss, The Chief, was character actor and opera singer Ed Platt. One of his most memorable pre-Get Smart roles was as James Dean’s juvenile officer in Rebel Without A Cause. He also had roles in Written on the Wind and Hitchcock’s North by Northwest.
The pilot was not created with a logo or opening. Leonard Stern later added the noted opening and closing sequence with the multiple doors Max walked through. That scene itself has been parodied a number of times and is as iconic as the shoephone.
As for that shoephone, Brooks noted in DVD commentary that he thought a bizarre place for anyone to have a secret telephone was in the heel of a shoe.
“That was the first time a phone went off in an audience,” said Brooks, in reference to the pilot’s opening scene.
Henry said, as stated in DVD commentary, it was ironic that the show started with a phone ringing in an audience.
“Now of course there’s nothing unusual about this,” said Henry. “Then, this was a remarkable instance of strangeness.”
This was actually a simplified glimpse of what went into the premiere of Get Smart. There’s a lot more to digest on the matter and more insights can be found in my reference guide. Also, the DVD box set features two rounds of wonderful audio commentary on the pilot from Mel Brooks and Buck Henry.

It's the old snap your fingers and turn a black and white show into color trick. Prior to Get Smart's first episode, Don Adams hosted NBC's fall preview show, "A Secret Agent's Dilemma, or A Clear Case of Mind Over Mata Hari."

Also premiering on NBC the night of Sept. 18 was another iconic 60s sitcom, I Dream of Jeannie. That show, along with the other shows in NBC’s fall lineup were featured in a TV special, A Secret Agent’s Dilemma, or A Clear Case of Mind Over Mata Hari. Airing Sept. 6, 1965, this was the first appearance of Maxwell Smart on TV.
So what was the world like when Get Smart aired? Perhaps it was as confusing and turbulent as it is today. The country was both in the midst of changing social norms and engaged in a war.
In a nutshell, here’s what kept people glued to the news in the month prior to Get Smart’s premiere:
• The war in Vietnam had escalated and the American ground war was underway. On Sept. 11, 1965, the 1st Cavalry Division of the United States Army arrived in Vietnam. During this period President Lyndon Johnson, signed a law penalizing the burning of draft cards with up to five years in prison and a $1,000 fine.
• The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 was ongoing. The day of Get Smart’s airing, Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin invited the leaders of India and Pakistan to meet in the Soviet Union to negotiate.
• In Iraq, Prime Minister Arif Abd ar-Razzaq’s attempted coup fails.
• Hurricane Betsy hit the New Orleans area with winds reaching 145 mph. There were 76 deaths and $1.42 billion in damage.
In non-scary news:
• Bob Dylan released Highway 61 Revisited, featuring “Like a Rolling Stone.”
• The fourth and final period of the Second Vatican Council opened.
• Gemini 5, with a crew of Gordon Cooper and Pete Conrad, was launched.
September inches us closer to the World Series. Here’s what was going on in sports around this time:
• Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitched a perfect game against the Chicago Cubs.
• On the night Get Smart aired, Mickey Mantle played his 2,000th game at Yankee stadium.
Born in September of 1965 were: President of Syria Bashar al-Assad, boxer Lennox Lewis, actress Marlee Matlin, musician Moby and actor Charlie Sheen.

86 and 99 tune into radio station KAOS for a special broadcast.

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.

Tales from inside the bass drum

Max, 99 and this episode's special guest star, The Bass Drum.

Episode 10
Our Man In Leotards (original air date:11-20-65)
Cast: Emilio Naharana – Michael Pate, Windish – Robert Cornthwaite, Julio – Robert Carricart, Doorman – Nestor Paiva, Parkerson – John Stephenson, Don Hernando – Edward Colmans, Dancer – Fernando Roca, Haskell (credited as Guard) – Robert J. Stevenson, Saunders – Robert Karvelas
Director:  Richard Donner
Writers: Mel Brooks and Gary Belkin
Producer:  Jay Sandrich
Filming Location: Paramount Studios, Hollywood

Synopsis: After ballet troupe leader Emilio Naharana (the last of the world’s great leapers) steals Control’s new paralyzing drug Immobilo, Max and 99 attempt to retrieve it by infiltrating the Pinerovian embassy.

Max sticks it to evil ballet dancer Emilio Naharana.

My Thoughts:
This episode “kind of” starts where the previous episode, “Satan Place,” left off. The Chief is showing Max his “new” car, the ZFB600. Yes, this is the second appearance of the storied “Z the Zebra Car.” If you recall, at the end of “Satan Place,” it was revealed Max won the car in a raffle of all the Chief’s stuff.

Now, if you’ve watched this episode during a heavily edited syndication cycle that shuffled Get Smart into a different order, *coughNickatNitecough* then you would just assume the Chief is assigning Max a new car for the heck of it.

Z the Zebra Car makes a cameo appearance in "Our Man in Leotards."

Max, by the way, would have preferred “Z the Zebra Car” had come in the color tan. Special to this episode, the car’s horn mechanism operates two 52-caliber machine guns mounted in the radiator. It’s also equipped with a radar tracking device and can transmit an emergency signal. Sticker price: $32,000.

We observe two other details at the beginning of this episode after the Immobilo is stolen from Control’s lab. One, Robert Karvelas appears and is given a line and a name – Saunders. Later in season one he’ll have a new identity: Larabee. Secondly, we get to watch Max try to leap Control’s security fence in a single bound. He claims to have been the three-time winner of the spy school gold medal for high jumping.

In the process of foiling Naharana’s plot to stop the Pinerovian and U.S. ambassadors from signing a trade pact, this episode provides multiple comedic bits:

• The lab scene. Max makes a few messes – one was picking up the wrong test tubes when the Chief’s test tube phone rang and the other involved injecting the Chief with Immobilo

Always concerned with keeping conversations secure, Max advises they have their discussion in a foreign language. After rejecting French and arguing over Swahili, they settle on English.

Chief: How about English?
Max: OK, but don’t go too fast.

The discussion is finally held in a firing range.

• The bass drum. Naharana and Julio go into the instrument room to have a private chat while Max slices open the back of a bass drum and hides in it. What results is Naharana detailing his motives – not that we’re paying attention to that. I mean, how can we when Max is making all those ridiculous faces. As mentioned in a past blog, Don Adams has been described as a facial actor. He takes this to the next level in this scene.

99: Max, what did you find out?
Max: I found out something very important, 99. A human being can’t live in a bass drum.

• That is a dancer! Max jabs a member of Naharana’s troupe with Immobilo and swipes his clothes. Unfortunately he fails to perform when tested. He finds himself crashing into into a door and blows his cover.

In the end Max saves the day during Naharana’s temper tantrum about “decadent democracies” by sticking him with the Immobilo laced pen meant for Don Hernando. For his good work he’s awarded the “Legion of Honor” — well, at least temporarily. Somehow he manages to inject everyone in the room with Immobilo — including 99.

Yes, now we get to that scene!

Seeing that 99’s paralyzed with Immobilo, Max plants a kiss on her check, but it really doesn’t count since she not conscious and can’t feel it. He then takes it one step further. He tilts her head, kisses her again and jabs himself with Immobilo. All that’s left is speculation on what happened next.

Watch for: Max’s bit in the bass drum and the infamous Immobilo kiss.

Max plants a kiss on 99. She's not moved - because she can't move.

Footnotes:
• Aside from the pilot episode, this is the only other episode written by Get Smart creator Mel Brooks.
• Australian actor Michael Pate played many a villain. His credits include Hondo with John Wayne, a number of TV westerns and an episode of Mission Impossible.
• French-born character actor Robert Carricart played Pepe Cordoza in the TV series T.H.E. Cat. He appeared in many other TV shows including in an episode of Mission Impossible.
• Nestor Paiva’s acting career goes back to the late 1930s. He was best known for his role as innkeeper Teo Gonzales in Disney’s Zorro series.
• John Stephenson’s voice is probably familiar to many a child of the 1970s and 1980s. He may be most well-known as the voice of Mr. Slate on The Flintstones. His other credits include: Scooby-Doo, The Transformers, The Jetsons, InHumanoids, G.I. Joe and The Littles. And he was in an episode of Mission Impossible.
• Edward Colmans appeared in all kinds of TV westerns. He made another appearance in Get Smart in the second season episode “Viva Smart.” He also appeared in Mission Impossible.
• Robert J. Stevenson made repeated appearances on Have Gun-Will Travel, Bonanza and Rawhide.
• There may be an inconsistency. Naharana calls the pact a mutual trade pact and later in the episode Don Hernando calls it mutual aid pact.

Glick meter: When 99 suggests a hiding place in the bass drum, Max insists on handling the matter himself.

Oh Max meter: After a handful of episodes with pursed lips and purrs, 99 finally gets a kiss from Max. Too bad she probably didn’t remember it.

Control Agents: Windish, Saunders and Hodgkins is referred to

Kaos Agents: The episode doesn’t really indicate that Emilio Naharana and Julio are Kaos guys. Instead they represent a faction that is not favorable to the U.S. government. Naharana reveals his goal is to overthrow the Pinerovian government by keeping the people poor, tired and hungry.

Gadgets: Test Tube Phone, Hypodermic Ring (contains a few doses of Immobilo), Immobilo, Thermos Phone, Mustache Kit, Compact Phone and the ZFB600

Episode Locations: Pinerovian Embassy

Don Adams shows us why human beings can't live in bass drums.

Satan Place: Phones, a freezer and a failed fundraiser

Max tries to play doctor with Harvey Satan while Len Lesser skulks in the background.

Episode Nine
Satan Place (original air date: 11-13-65)
Cast: Dr. Harvey Satan – Joseph Sirola, Windish – Robert Cornthwaite, Hodgkins – Bryan O’Byrne, Rudolph -Len Lesser, Gregor- Jack Perkins, un-credited Kaos thug – Roy Jensen
Director: Frank McDonald
Writers: Stan Burns and Mike Marmer
Producer: Jay Sandrich
Filming Location: Paramount Studios, Hollywood

Synopsis: Just before the Chief can leave for vacation, he’s snatched by two Kaos hoods hiding in the trunk of his car. Kaos bad guy Harvey Satan demands $200,000 ransom and freezes the Chief for some sort of surgery that will make him work for Kaos. Max saves the day by playing doctor -and he wins the Chief’s car during Control’s fundraising efforts.

Crowdfunding for the Chief of Control was done the hard way.

My Thoughts:
This episode’s villain is a guy going by the name Harvey Satan who has his hair and beard cut like the devil. He runs his own “sanitarium,” which from what the viewer can see is frozen over.

My toddler enjoys watching GS with me, though I had to put off watching this one until I had some alone time. A guy that looks like, well, Satan locking the Chief in a freezer may have been a bit too much to explain to a three year old. Nevertheless, it’s still a great episode for us big kids.

Getting ransom money for the Chief proves to be a headache. It’s revealed that Control is so secret the State Department doesn’t know about it. Also, an appropriation through Congress would be too time consuming since it would take three months to pass. A call on the direct line to the president nets Control $12. To be noted, the hot line to the White House is kept in a red box. It’s not the horn phone of later episodes.

Control, instead, gets creative. They resort to fundraising through a raffle – with the Chief’s property as prizes; a telethon and Hodgkins’ “Take A Chance On Our Chief” punch board. The whole effort rounds up a meager $600, the Chief ends up losing his nice furniture and Max is the new owner of his car.

One note on that swank black and white car, it reappears in the beginning of “Our Man in Leotards.” The Chief in that scene is handing over the keys and demonstrating its specs.

Dipping back to my page on the cars of Get Smart, that sweet ride is a Ford Mustang dubbed “Z the Zebra Car” According to Smartian Sue, the car was created by George Barris. His resume includes creating the Munster cars and the Batmoble. The Zebra Car also appearing in “Marriage on the Rocks” with Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.

Special to this episode, it came with Kaos agents hiding in the trunk. 😉

Max has a fail early on when the Chief gets kidnapped. However, I think he tries to make up for that fowl-up throughout the episode.

Not only does he, along with 99, successfully switch places with Dr. Von Havok, he also has an ah-ha moment in the nick of time. He realizes if he sets the thermostat in the operating room lower, he’ll have a window of opportunity to “freeze” Harvey Satan and co. in place.

Max is even prepped for the threat of “electric grass.”

Max: Do you have a hair pin?
99: No.
Max: (pulling a Bobby pin out of his hair) I’ve got one.
99: (shooting Max a perplexed look) Max?
Max: I use it for picking locks.

Watch for: There’s some sort of phone obsession with this episode. Check out the rigmarole Max goes through to answer a call on the Chief’s private phone. Sheesh. Then there’s the bit in the park with all the hidden phones on Max’s person.

Footnotes:

A frosty Chief and a concerned 99.

• The title of this episode is a reference to 60s prime time soap, Peyton Place.
• Noted voice-over actor Joseph Sirola appeared as Van Cleff in the second season Get Smart episode, “Bronzefinger.” He also appeared in Hang ‘Em High and in an episode of Mission Impossible.
• Len Lesser was known for playing Uncle Leo on Seinfeld. Among his many roles on TV and in the movies, he appeared in Kelly’s Heroes and on an episode of The Partners. He appeared in two other Get Smart episodes: “The Decoy in season two and “The Spirit is Willing” in season three.
• The acting resume of Jack Perkins largely includes roles as drunks or bartenders – with an occasional spot as a bouncer. He appeared as Master of Games in the Star Trek episode “Bread and Circuses.”
• Roy Jensen appeared in numerous TV shows and movies including Every Which Way But Loose and The Love Bug. He also appeared in an episode each of Mission Impossible and Star Trek.

Glick meter: We get a “Sorry about That” for our troubles.
Oh Max meter: This episode finally breaks from the failed kiss routines that showed up previously. Instead, 99 gets weirded out when Max pulls a Bobby pin out of his hair.

Control Agents: Windish and Hodgkins make appearances for this episode.

Kaos Agents: Harvey Satan, Rudolph, Gregor, Dr. Laslow Von Havok, Nurse, Kaos agent in the mailbox and two Kaos agents in the Chief’s trunk.

Gadgets: Phones galore including; wallet phone, eyeglass phone, necktie phone, handkerchief phone, belt phone, garter phone; a collapsible vaulting pole and caterpillar (suction cup) shoes – just don’t get them stuck to your hand.

Episode Locations: Satan Place Sanitarium, Municipal Park

Z the Zebra Car's Get Smart debut. The real problem isn't under the hood - it's the junk in the trunk.

Of chicken suits and courtrooms

Max is "representing" in the courtroom.

Episode Eight
The Day Smart Turned Chicken (original air date: 11-6-65)
Cast: Cowboy – Simon Oakland, Blake – Phillip E. Pine, Dr. Andrew Fish – Howard Caine, Mrs. Dawson – Iris Adrian, Bruno – Richard Karlan, Morovian Ambassador – George J. Lewis, Judge – Frank Biro, Costume Man – Don Brodie, Aunt Rose – Rose Mitchtom.
Director: Frank McDonald
Writers: Pat McCormick and Ron Friedman
Producer: Jay Sandrich
Filming Location: Paramount Studios, Hollywood

Synopsis: Knowing that Max has to testify at a pre-trial hearing, Kaos pulls out all the stops to make the court think he’s a nut job – including a not-so-dead cowboy and a non-assassination attempt at a formal embassy party. Being stuck in chicken suit didn’t help Max’s case much either.

Awkward. Max's attempt to save the day is an epic fail.

 

My thoughts: Sometimes there are things you have to do, but you put them off. Usually this involves doctor appointments or de-hoarding one’s home. Other times it’s writing a blog about an episode you’d just as soon skip. That having been said, I suppose I could end this entry right now. However, I won’t because I know there’s some enclave of fans that get a kick out of this one.

Here’s the run down.

Max gets woken from his much needed nappies by a man in a cowboy costume that also appears to be accessorizing with a knife in his back. There’s a bit of shtick with Max getting the guy in his bed, the cowboy’s dying declaration about an assassination attempt at an embassy costume party, a visit from a phony doctor that pronounces the man dead and appropriate scoffing from the Chief.

Not about to let the matter rest, Max rounds up the only getup available from an all night costume shop – a gaudy chicken suit. His visit to the Morovian Embassy ended about how his day in court began – bad.

We get a round of witnesses on the stand that pretty much deem Smart not competent to testify — including his land lady Mrs. Dawson who can only cackle at him in disbelief. Even the Chief produces a good solid nose pinch during the hearing.

In the end, the Kaos agent’s plan wasn’t so ingenious after all. Max had his ah-ha moment and pointed out that only someone who was in on the scam would know who he was and also be willing to drink a possibly poisoned beverage. Also, this episode’s bad guy didn’t consider the matter of probability when attempting to jump from a five story building onto a pile of mattresses. Missed it by that much.

There are a couple of things to make note of with this episode.

First, there’s no 99 and she is sorely missed. We do, however, see a painting of 99 in Max’s bedroom. The painting appears in another episode, “All in the Mind.” That painting was the subject of much speculation years ago during our Friday night Get Smart chat sessions. This matter was mulled over in Smartian Controversy Eight.

Secondly, the chicken suit is some sort of homage or in-joke with respect to one of the episode’s writers, Pat McCormick. Apparently McCormick had a habit of wearing chicken suits and other goofy costumes to parties. This is noted in Donna McCrohan’s The Life & Times of Maxwell Smart. McCormick wrote a few other GS episodes and he appeared briefly in part two of “Two Sire With Love.” He plays Otto, the big Kaos agent charged with mixing Rupert of Rathskeller’s molten goo. That scene always made me snicker.

Finally, there’s those eggs at the end. Outside of my personal disdain toward this episode, there really isn’t anything wrong with it. It’s got slapstick, it’s got jokes that are on beat, it has the hero beat the odds — but it also has those awkward eggs Max absentmindedly left setting in his chair. It’s implied that the Chief thinks Max laid them. The scene should at least be cartoony, but it’s not.

Watch for: Max’s business card claims he’s Arnold Kipnis, Furrier to the Stars – until you hold it up to the light. Look for Aunt Rose in the courtroom scene. We also learn that the Chief’s first name is Thaddeus. And then there’s that bit at the end with the eggs…. sheesh.

This episode provides an Ed Platt nose pinch - with extra frustration. Check out Aunt Rose giggling in the background.

Footnotes:
• Barbara Feldon does not appear in this episode.
• Pat McCormick was a writer for the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He also had a number of acting roles, most notably as Big Enos Burdette in Smokey and the Bandit. You’ll see him playing Otto in the second part of the fourth season Get Smart episode “To Sire with Love.”
• A concert violinist, Simon Oakland played tough guys and appeared in such films as Psycho, West Side Story and Bullitt. He played Kolchak’s editor in Kolchak: The Night Stalker and appeared in Mission Impossible.
• Phillip E. Pine appeared in TV shows from the early 1950s to the mid 1980s, including Star Trek and Mission Impossible.
• Howard Caine may be best remembered as Maj. Hochstetter on Hogan’s Heroes. He also appears in the second season three-part Get Smart episode, “A Man Called Smart.”
• Iris Adrian began appearing in movies at the end of the silent film era. She had roles in many TV shows and through the 1970s appeared in a bevy of those goofy Disney movies, including No Deposit No Return – which also starred Barbara Feldon.
• Richard Karlan appears in the second season Get Smart episode “Bronzefinger.” He also appeared in an episode of The Partners (Don Adams’ post-Get Smart series) and an episode of Mission Impossible.
• George J. Lewis appeared primarily in westerns, most notably as Don Alejandro in Zorro.
• Don Brodie appears again in the first season of Get Smart in “The Dead Spy Scrawls.” He began appearing in movies starting in the 1930s and his TV series appearances ranged from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Glick meter: This episode nets the first “Sorry about that.”

Oh Max meter: No “Oh Maxes” in this one folks. We do get that lovely painting of 99 in Max’s room, though.

Control Agents: No extra agents here.

Kaos Agents: Cowboy, Dr. Andrew Fish, Bruno

Gadgets: Door Zipper, Plant Phone, Headboard Phone and the unused Painting Phone.

Episode Locations: Max’s apartment, The All Night Costume Company, Morovian Embassy and the courtroom

No, Chief, Max didn't lay those. He just forgot where he put them. Don't panic.

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