Back to the Old Drawing Board: A Case of Man Versus Machine

Prepared for anything: Hymie shows his works.

Prepared for everything: Hymie the Robot shows his works.

Episode 19
Back to the Old Drawing Board (original air date: 1-29-66)

Cast: Hymie – Dick Gautier; Dr. Shotwire – Patrick O’Moore; Natz – Ted de Corsia; Dr. Ratton – Jim Boles; Agent 44 – Victor French; Agent 91 – Bruce Gibson; Waiter at party – William H. O’Brien; Party guests – Jack Berle, Dick Cherney, Rose Michtom, Hans Moebus, Hal Taggart

Director: Bruce Bilson

Writers: Gary Clarke (C.F. L’Amoreaux)

Producer: Jay Sandrich

Filming Location: Paramount Studios, Hollywood

Synopsis: Kaos wants to kidnap Dr. Shotwire so they can sell his plans for a craft that can explore the surface of the moon to the highest bidder. Renowned scientist Dr. Ratton sells out to Kaos and offers to hand over both Shotwire and Agent 86 within 24 hours via his all-powerful robot Hymie.

Max takes Hymie under his wing. Meanwhile, Hymie takes Max's gun.

Max takes Hymie under his wing. Meanwhile, Hymie takes Max’s gun.

My thoughts: It’s time to get back into talking about episodes. “Back to the Old Drawing Board” is another “what’s not to love” episode. This serves as the introduction of Hymie the Robot, who became popular enough to appear in a total of six episodes and the 1989 reunion movie, “Get Smart, Again!”

The episode begins with accomplished evil genius Dr. Ratton being approached by Natz, a Kaos agent with a heavy grudge against Maxwell Smart. Natz is hoping to nab a nuclear physicist and settle his score with Agent 86 in one swoop.

Ratton, who went to Kaos because the good guys didn’t pay well, offers Natz his mechanical man Hymie. Ratton, by the way, named the robot after his father. Don’t criticize. Ratton made him and he can call him what he wants.

Hymie displays his strength by decking an 800 pound gorilla. Much like quicksand, television has led us to believe that 6-foot-tall gorillas would be a much bigger threat than what they are. Hymie also gets shot by Ratton and provides a ballistics analysis.

His other features include an IQ of more than 200 and the manual dexterity to take apart any missile system in the world. Hymie is also a pretty fine piece of equipment in terms of aesthetics and design. The only thing he cannot do is set up a lawn chair. Like any electronic device, Hymie has a few glitches in his system – specifically he takes everything literally. When told to “kill the lights” he shoots the light bulbs out.

The price tag for this handsome display of technology is $1 million. Frankly, if Ratton was so concerned with money, he could have bypassed Kaos and gotten ahead by mass producing a series of Hymies. This would be a far superior product than talking refrigerators and virtual assistants.

Max has been guarding Shotwire day and night and has successfully made himself a nuisance. As an added bonus, he destroys Shotwire’s model of the moon craft and sets the scientist’s work back six months. We can assume Max probably isn’t going to be on the man’s Christmas card list after this mission.

By some miracle, though, Max is kept on the case and is assigned to work with newby Agent 91. Before Max can meet up with 91, Hymie takes the rookie agent’s place by force. Agent 91 would later be found explaining himself in the Chief’s office. Talk about a bad first day on the job.

Duped, ever-helpful Max decides to take Hymie under his wing. Along with Agent 99,

Dr. Ratton's remote control over Hymie suffers critical failure after the robot imbibes in an adult beverage.

Dr. Ratton’s remote control over Hymie suffers critical failure after the robot imbibes in an adult beverage.

they proceed to go to a fancy dress party held in Shotwire’s honor. In the process, Hymie pickpockets Max’s gun and crushes it. He also manages to cut Max off from contact with Control by destroying his watch communicator and taking Agent 44 out of commission.

The party opens the door to the funnier bits in the episode. The first involves Max’s meeting with Agent 44 who is hiding in a clock. As usual, 44 has a meltdown. His grievances include not being given updated countersigns, repeated assignments in tight spaces and not being able to wear his tux. It’s worth noting that between mentoring Hymie and reassuring Agent 44, Max excels at playing the older brother in this episode.

The episode moves on to Max and Hymie’s “Do exactly as I do” pantomime. In order to remain inconspicuous, Max suggests that Hymie should follow his lead. Hymie duplicates Max’s moves to the letter. The only liberty he takes is to check out a woman that walks by them.

The mimicry draws the attention Max was trying to avoid, so he shifts gears and offers Hymie a glass of bubbly. Hymie succumbs to peer pressure and Ratton looses control over the robot. Ratton’s concern is that Hymie could end up killing everyone in the room. However, a half dozen drinks later, Hymie becomes the chatty, “I love you guys” type of drunk and ends up telling Shotwire his life story. Displeased with his new charge’s behavior, Max ushers Hymie into a closet to scold him.

Max: I think you’ve got the makings of a first rate agent, but only if you obey orders. Now, you were told to stay away from Shotwire, weren’t you?
Hymie: *Hiccups*
Max: Hymie, you’re drunk! Listen Hymie, you’re a nice guy, but you’ve got to learn to hold your liquor. So no more drinking, agreed?
Hymie: *Kisses Max on the cheek*
Max: Just say yes or no, Hymie.
Hymie: Yes or no Hymie.

Frustrated that they haven’t located the Kaos agent that infiltrated the party, Max and 99 decide to vacate with Shotwire in tow. The only problem is that Shotwire just wants Max to go away. Hymie, who is on a first name basis with the scientist (we learn Shotwire’s name is Alonzo), intervenes by revealing he is a robot. Max’s reward for congratulating Hymie on his initiative is a solid punch in the mouth.

Hymie hauls Max, 99 and Shotwire back to Ratton’s lair where Natz decides to have his showdown. Hymie is ordered to destroy Max. Before he can pull the trigger, Max attempts to empathize with the robot. Hymie reacts by crying and eventually shooting Ratton and incapacitating Natz. Apparently evil Dr. Ratton somehow programmed the robot with sentiment.

Hymie: You were the first one who ever treated me like I was a real person. I just couldn’t destroy you.
Max: Of course you couldn’t – and I knew you couldn’t. After all, Hymie, I’m no dummy. What I mean, Hymie, is I’m a good judge of monsters.

At the close of the episode Hymie expresses reluctance when Max asks him to join Control. He states that he just doesn’t like violence.

Hymie: I’d like to work for IBM.
The Chief: Because of your scientific curiosity?
Hymie: It’s a nice way to meet some intelligent machines.

Max helps Agent 44 cope with worker isolation.

Max helps Agent 44 cope with worker isolation.

Watch for:

• Aunt Rose does quite a bit of mingling at the party.

• The closet scene. It’s a pity there are no bloopers from this episode because that would have been a beautiful thing. Dick Gautier in previous writings indicated that the scene took upward of 20 takes because he and Don Adams could not stop laughing.

• One goof that’s always bothersome is how Ratton and Natz monitor Hymie from the built-in camera. Instead of seeing things from Hymie’s point of view, we see Hymie on the monitor as well as Max and 99.

Footnotes:

• King Moody, who would later nab the role of Siegfried’s minion Shtarker, also auditioned for the role of Hymie.

• Comedian and singer Dick Gautier was best known for his role as Hymie the Robot, but also made a number of notable appearances in TV series such as The Patty Duke Show, Bewitched, Wonder Woman and Love, American Style to name a few. While appearing in Get Smart, Gautier had a supporting role in the short-lived series Mr. Terrific. He was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance as Conrad Birdie in the original Broadway production of Bye Bye Birdie. He is better known to 80s and 90s kids for his voice over work on various cartoons including as Rodimus Prime in The Transformers and Serpentor in G.I. Joe. An artist, Gautier also wrote a handful of instructional books on drawing caricatures.

• Actor Gary Clarke wrote this episode under C.F. L’Amoreaux, a reformatting of his given name. He wrote a total of six episodes under that name, including five that featured Hymie. Clarke had a regular role in The Virginian and appeared in other TV westerns.

• Patrick O’Moore’s work goes back to 1934. His bevy of credits include repeated appearances on Death Valley Days (which Ronald Reagan hosted 52 episodes of), Rawhide, Cavalcade of America and Fireside Theatre, as well as roles in a few Humphrey Bogart movies.

• Ted de Corsia was known for playing villains and had made repeated appearances in Daniel Boone, The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Wild Wild West, Perry Mason, The Outer Limits, Rawhide and Maverick to name a few. His first role was as Sidney Broome in The Lady From Shanghai. He appears again in Get Smart as Kaos agent Spinoza in the season three episode, “When Good Fellows Get Together.” The character is basically the same as Natz, but for some reason was given a different name.

• The most notable role for Jim Boles was probably as Billy Ray Fox in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, which starred Don Knotts. He also appeared as Easy Archie in the Apple Dumpling Gang, as well as in numerous TV shows from the 1950s through the 1970s. He returned to Get Smart as Dr. Ratton in the season three episode, “When Good Fellows Get Together.”

• Jack Berle did a lot of uncredited work. He’s turned up in the likes of Columbo, Kojak, McMillan & Wife, Here’s Lucy, Bonanza, Mission Impossible and the Dick Van Dyke Show. He makes another Get Smart appearance later in season one in “Stakeout on Blue Mist Mountain.”

• Dick Cherney’s resume included a load of uncredited roles dating all the way back to the 1930s. He has a handful in Get Smart where he also appears in “The Last One is a Rotten Spy” (season one), “Cutback at Control” (season two), “Smart Fit the Battle of Jericho” (season two) and “A Man Called Smart: Part 1” (season two).

• Another uncredited actor William H. O’Brien was an extra in Mission Impossible, Bonanza, Perry Mason, The Untouchables, Rawhide and Peter Gunn. He makes a second appearance in the season two Get Smart episode, “The Expendable Agent” as a scientist.

• Hal Taggart had a career of playing extras all the way back into the 1930s. He repeatedly appeared on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Batman, Perry Mason, The Lucy Show and Maverick.

Glick meter: Max offers a very grating pronunciation of Natz’s name.

Oh Max meter: 99 reserves her pleasant demeanor for Shotwire. It was in the line of duty.

Control Agents: Agent 27 (referenced, not seen), Agent 44, Agent 91. Does Hymie count since he transferred to Control?

Kaos Agents: Natz, Dr. Ratton. Does Hymie count since he was working for Kaos?

Gadgets: The Watch Communicator. Does Hymie count since he’s really a piece of machinery?

Episode Locations: Dr. Ratton’s lair, Control’s garage office and an unnamed swanky party venue.

Remaining inconspicuous: Hymie takes being Max's protégé to a new level.

Remaining inconspicuous: Hymie takes being Max’s protégé to a new level.

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.

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.