Weekend Vampire: Sometimes espionage bites

The honeymooners. Max and 99 cross the threshold into Dr. Drago's house of horrors.

Episode 14
Weekend Vampire (original air date: 12-18-65)
Cast:  Dr. Drago – Martin Kosleck, Professor Sontag – Ford Rainey, Arrick – Roger Price, Hugo – William Baskin, Agent 52 – Don Ross, Control agent – Robert Karvelas
Director:  Bruce Bilson
Writers:  Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso
Producer:  Jay Sandrich
Filming Location: Paramount Studios, Hollywood

Synopsis: Three Control agents have been murdered – all with suspicious puncture wounds on their neck. Could it be… a vampire?

Max and 99 are fine tuning their eavesdropping skills.

My Thoughts:

The episode opens with Max and Agent 52 involved in a game of chess while stationed in Professor Sontag’s laboratory. In the midst of the game, a shadow descends across the room and a strange tune fills the air. Agent 52 slumps over dead — his only visible sign of injury being two puncture wounds to the neck.

Two previous agents, 23 and 49, also succumbed to what they used to refer to as “neck rupture” on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In the meantime, the newspapers are having a field day reporting on a “Weekend Vampire” because the incidents only occur on the weekend. Is a weekend vampire anything like a weekend smoker?

Scratching for some sort of clue, Max and the Chief set out to decipher the tune heard before 52 is murdered. They are assisted in this with Dr. Arrick and the Detecto-Tune. This is probably the best bit in the whole episode – and it was included among the tracks on the Get Smart LP from 1965 (and later re-released on CD in 1996). Max and Arrick’s attempt to sound out the mystery tune devolves in to a rendition of Heart of My Heart – which gives us a nice sample of Ed Platt’s vocal talents. It also earns the Chief the lead in the annual Spy Frolics.

After trying to get the autopsy results from the lab, Max and 99 find Sontag having a phone conversation with Dr. Drago, Sontag’s predecessor. Drago, it’s revealed, was released from his employment at Control after being caught performing unauthorized experiments.

Max and 99 eventually follow Sontag to Drago’s house. For added creep factor, this all transpires during a storm and the car Max is driving conveniently dies right outside of Drago’s house. This leaves 86 and 99 to come up with the idea of approaching Drago as stranded travelers.

When Max advises that they use one of the cover kits stored in the car’s trunk, 99 is quite eager to use the newlywed cover. Regardless, Max also grabs the Commando Kit. They could have also selected the Diplomat Kit, the Publisher Kit, the Dr. and Nurse Kit or the Lion Tamer Kit. For what it’s worth, the Commando Kit comes with a throwing knife, knockout drops, a revolver and brass knuckles. The Newlywed Kit includes all that plus a bouquet of flowers, Expando-Rice, a “Just Married” sign, Ignito-Paste and two sets of bulletproof pajamas.

Upon arrival at Drago’s house, they are greeted by Drago himself, the grunting Hugo and a coffin set out in the front room. Drago tries to scare Max and 99 off, but later decides to keep them for the night – locked tight in a bedroom.

After some detective work, and going to the effort of breaking out of their room, Max and 99 find that Drago’s coffin leads to his basement laboratory.
Drago reveals that he murdered the Control agents who testified against him with a twin-chambered flute that fires two poison ice pellets. Then Drago decides to demonstrate the flute on 99.

In a perfect chain of events, Max tackles 99 and knocks her out of Hugo’s grasp. Sontag, who has just arrived for his own confrontation with Drago, shoots his mentor. Drago then hits the note on his flute, leaving the poison pellets to land in Hugo’s neck.

Gotcha! In this quick scene you can see the back of the sound stage.

There are a couple of other issues to note:

• In terms of character consistency, in the previous episode, “Aboard the Orient Express,” Max didn’t know the difference between checkers and chess. In this episode he knows what he’s doing and beats Agent 52.

• One thing I find odd is Drago’s coffin/secret staircase. He clearly climbs into it and lies down, which just doesn’t fit with it being a staircase.

• When Max exits the car during the storm, you can see the top of the backdrop as well as the stage. For whatever reason, they’re also not using the Sunbeam Tiger in this episode.

This is one of a number of episodes in the series that plays on the absurd. I don’t know what it is, but I find the rhythm of this one predictable. Sure, what’s a TV series without a vampire episode – you get one every now and then. However, I’m left with this feeling that everyone was just kind of going through the motions in this episode. Compared to some of the other episodes in the first season, like “Mr Big” and “Aboard the Orient Express” to name a couple, this episode comes off as weak.

Maybe I’m just not buying the superstitious nonsense.

Max: (as he moves to walk under a ladder) It’s a good thing we’re all sensible civilized men who don’t believe in a lot of superstitious nonsense.
Chief: Max! Don’t walk under that!

Watch for: The Dectecto-Tune bit.

Footnotes:

Max and 99 decide it's time to break out of their bedroom.

• Martin Kosleck primarily played Nazis and appeared in a number of horror flicks. On the tube he appeared in several episodes of The Man from Uncle as well as a Mission Impossible two-parter.
• Ford Rainey has a storied career in television, appearing repeatedly in the likes of The Virginian, Bonanza, Alias Smith and Jones, Search, The F.B.I., Mannix, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Ned and Stacey and The King of Queens.
• Humorist Roger Price was best known for “Droodles,” a syndicated cartoon feature that was a combination of a doodle and a riddle. Price, along with Leonard Stern, also invented Mad Libs. They later partnered with Larry Sloan to create the Price-Stern-Sloan publishing company. Price appeared on a number of TV shows, with his final role as Hottentot in Get Smart, Again!
• William Baskin had a few roles here and there – including in Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine.
• Don Ross appeared in two other episodes of Get Smart: The third season episode, “Maxwell Smart, Private Eye” and the fourth season episode, “Hurray for Hollywood.” He appeared regularly on Sea Hunt, The Fugitive, The F.B.I., Dragnet 1967 and Adam-12.

Glick meter: Max closes out the episode by nearly beaming the Chief with a poison ice pellet from Drago’s flute. Sorry about that.

Oh Max meter: 99 gives Max more of a scolding in this episode – though it’s unwarranted. Initially 99 appears more than happy to be carried over the threshold of Drago’s house by Max. However, she’s not exactly up to pulling out all the stops in the role of “Mrs. Smart.”
Max: We’ve got to do everything honeymooners do. These pajamas are our best bet. Get in them 99.
99: (scandalized) Max!
Max: (annoyed) They’re bulletproof 99!

Control Agents: Professor Sontag, Arrick, Agent 52 and Larabee – although he isn’t actually named as such. Mentioned were Agent 23 and Agent 49 – both murdered by Drago.

Kaos Agents: None really. Drago was just a disgruntled former Control scientist that got the boot for unauthorized experiments.

Gadgets: DetectoTune, Expando-Rice, Ignito-Paste, bulletproof pajamas and, if you count the villain’s toys, the Flute Gun.

Episode Locations: Control headquarters, Drago’s creepy 200 year old house

Heart of My Heart: The Chief brings it home.

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.

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.