If I could only own one season of I Spy, it would be the second. But then, it would be missing “Home to Judgment” from Season Three. And all those episodes from Season One that I cherish.
I had to include “Sparrowhawk” in this article, whether it was top-flight I Spy or not. I did not have to get the episode in here because Star Trek star Walter Koenig guest-starred as a Las Vegas lounge singer who really wants to kill a visiting teenage king of an oil-rich country. Fortunately, in one photograph, I can capture the real reason it is here as one of the I Spy episodes set in, as Kelly Robinson (Robert Culp) and Alexander “Scotty” Scott (Bill Cosby) lounge around. Kelly is reading a Harvey Comics reprint of Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy. On the show, characters don’t just read comics onscreen, but the comics are also referenced throughout many episodes of the series, most notably in Robert Culp’s subsequent script “Home to Judgment”.
The entertainment industry often reminds me of the fable of Chicken Little.
If a writer wants to try something new, something that has not been done to death a hundred times before, oftentimes the corporate mentality is that if they do something different the sky will fall in on their heads!
I Spy already had a number of Chicken Little divergences that had some predicting disaster before it aired in homes across America, with some using as an example the fact that some southern states had already refused to air it – which obviously would have threatened the show’s ratings.
When the sky did not fall in on their heads, and when they looked around, I Spy had become a decent-sized hit. Robert Culp’s scripts, including “The Loser” and others later in the season, showed that they could have a black guy in the middle of the action, that two men of different races could transcend the color-barrier mandate. “The Loser” also helped establish that Sheldon Leonard, Mort Fine and David Friedkin could consider stories where Scotty could have a romantic-themed episode.
Michael Zagor wanted to do a love story for Scotty. He did that with “Trial by Treehouse”.
Cicely Tyson is back after her appearance in Season One, this time with a child, and she and Scotty are playing house together to try and get into inducted into a terrorist organization run by Raymond St. Jacques, which is headquartered atop a mountainside retreat that overlooks the city he intends to descend into chaos.
Michael J. Pollard, who played Maynard G. Krebs’s cousin on a couple of early episodes of Dobie Gillis when it looked as if Bob Denver (why played Krebs) might be drafted into the military, plays a sociopath who delights in savagery. He’s the kind of child only a mother can love, even dangerously.
In this episode Scotty works undercover in a factory alongside Kelly. When Kelly spiels off about his love for jazz musicians, Scotty gets in his face about thinking that all blacks love jazz.
The treehouse is a great metaphor, and Cicely Tyson gives her lines about the childish habitat and its exclusion of girls. The girls want to turn the treehouse into a home. The boys want to plan their strategies for war. The treehouse is torn asunder when imminent violence threatens to become more than rhetoric. Is there time for tenderness? For love and lust?
Scotty visits the morgue to view Kelly dead.
Robert Culp has some fun, Marlon Brando-style, atop his motorcycle.
Scotty and Kelly doing their version of tag team to take out the bad guys who want to knock out all the lights of the city below.
Kelly and Scotty come up against assassin extraordinaire Barbara Steele.
Barbara Steele had become an iconic figure in horror cinema with Mario Bava’s Black Sunday, a.k.a. The Mask of Satan. That is still one of my favorite vampire films of all time. Bava works incredible magic on very little budget, his black and white cinematography so effectively framed and lit.
In the film, when Barbara comes back to life after an iron-spiked mask is removed from her face, pocked with holes from the steel shafts, and a blood drop brings her eyes from glaucoma glaze to dark, searing life, as her breasts lift erotically, totally designed to join sexuality and the macabre in a way that it had never before been presented in film, Barbara’s legacy was assured.
Someone is killing spies in Venice. Kelly and Scotty wait and plan to find out who is slaughtering their fellow agents against the beautiful backdrop of canals, spanning bridges and stone buildings rising up about the narrow, watery lanes where gondolas glide as lovers come together, tentatively or passionately.
Barbara Steele plays Giana Paluzzi, an assassin who revels in her work, killing for sensual pleasure. There is no doubt about that fact even before she makes her play for Kelly. In true film noir style, she mates and kills and there is no room left for the imagination to feel she does otherwise. Don’t take my word for it, check out the episode. You’ll see for yourself.
Her partner is even a voyeur to her lovemaking efforts. Go find another assassin team on TV series in the ’60s with this kind of couple. And when the lovemaking is done, the weapon of choice comes.
If the place is too public, a stiletto will do nicely.
“Sophia” is the kind of episode that I should hate. Scotty has a foster child about whom we have never heard. In visiting Rome, where the child to whom he has given money to over the years resides, he realizes that Sophia is no longer a child but a young woman. Sophia is also crazy in love with a scoundrel named Gino.
This is the kind of premise that so many series have done before with scarcely a believable moment. And yet…
I am charmed by it.
I guess that’s partly because of Culp and Cosby’s reactions to the shenanigans that follow: they are always commenting upon it. In fact, Scotty doesn’t even trust Kelly when he realizes how grown up she is.
Travelling after the playful thief of his adopted daughter’s affections and of material things from the place where Sophia lives, the music is lively and spirited, and it is really funny when Scotty decides Sophia isn’t allowed to sit on “Uncle” Kelly’s lap.
Even the antics of the obnoxious boyfriend would normally annoy me, but since Scotty and Kelly have little patience for it, it never drives me crazy — because it is driving them crazy. I love hearing Scotty and Kelly discuss different styles of parenting, from Dr. Spock to realizing the young couple are disappearing and commenting, “hanky the panky.” They know exactly what a young woman and man want to do.
When Gino tries to fence stolen goods to local hoods, Kelly and Scotty get tossed out the proverbial door. Sophia may chastise Gino as they pick themselves up and prepare to get Gino’s stash back.
Going back into the café, Kelly ends up in an Italian gang-style fight, with napkins bit into each other’s opponent, connecting them, until one falls to a slashing blade.
I’m glad I’ve never had to go through anything like that in my life.
When Scotty and Kelly end up in jail after a beautifully-filmed chase through the city streets of Rome (done by Fouad Said) they make humorous references to awards. “Sophia” was filmed right after Bill Cosby won his second Emmy for Best Actor. Kelly says he is trying out for a role by pacing and playing the harmonica. Later, he just lies on the top bunk, while Scotty jounces the bottom of his mattress.
The floodgates had been pried apart with Robert Culp’s script for “The Loser” and were ripped wide open with “Trial by Treehouse”, showing that a black man and woman could have a love story on network television.
This was an achievement that maybe only a few involved with the show would believe could happen. Now that Cicely Tyson and Bill Cosby had been allowed to cohabitat in a domestic situation, more black actresses could appear as sexually attractive.
Leslie Uggams played the beautiful woman, Tonia, who whom Scotty is attracted. She is a woman angry at injustice in the world, living in Italy where she was conceived during World War II. Tonia is active in the streets where she lives, stridently stating her beliefs, and being a part of the Communist party, under the leadership of Zugman.
The American government wants one thing with Scotty and Tonia; Zugman wants something equally to happen between the two. Tonia is the living flesh that will help him tear apart Kelly and Scotty. Scotty and Tonia’s courtship is played out against scenic backdrops. Both feel tenderness, affection, desire are felt by both.
Tonia is one of the first episodes of I Spy in which Scotty totally loses his cool, breaking a cue stick in half due to his rage. He trusted Kelly with his life in “It’s All Done with Mirrors.” Does he trust Kelly when a woman he loves is involved?
“Child out of Time” showcases how radically different the tone and style of the show could be. What other show would open with Nazi war criminals on the run from Israeli agents, mixed with references to Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
A man sneaks into Kelly and Scotty’s bedroom at night, armed, with lethal intent. Scotty and Kelly have no idea who the man is until they disarm him and learn he was a leader in a Concentration Camp and still displays a loathsome pride in his eyes, if not his words. Kelly brings a little pain and fear into Goldilocks’ belligerent eyes.
As they ride through darkened streets, the two men’s faces reflect grim reminders of the human atrocities that have happened. The Government does not want to take a position.
SCOTTY: Just treat it like a job. Finish it and get rid of it, right?
KELLY: That’s right. Indoctrination manual says on page 14, if I remember correctly, “Do not get emotionally involved.”
SCOTTY: All right, then. Don’t get involved. Just keep your cool.
KELLY: Well, I’ll tell you something, pally. My dad was stationed in Germany after the War for about a year. He was practicing law for the Army. We lived there. I was in my teens. We used to have marvelous times on Sundays. We would take excursions down the Rhine, castles on one side, pine trees on the other. Birds singing….it was lovely, sort of fairy land existence you could think of. And then one day, he had to go down to a little town. I don’t remember the name, it’s not important really…It’s called Dachau, I think. It’s practically forgotten now. There were weeds growing all over the place, and the barbed wire was all rusty, and the bricks were falling out of the ovens. And he had to check some records out for the Army and I went down with him. And then, so I wouldn’t forget it, he showed me the records, for they were still very much intact. I was fourteen. I haven’t forgotten. Well, anyway, I get a little twisted on the subject, Man, but that’s it.
Yeah. I Spy was just light hearted banter between two buddies.
A child mind-reading act, a mother without a maternal instinct in her soul, names on a list of Concentration Camp butchers who would be revealed, ferocious Israeli agents, all bring Kelly and Scotty in the midst of conflict. A little girl, not born when the atrocities happened, has a link to past and the present in which she lives – that is, for as long as the little girl can live.
Assaults come quickly, violently, lethally.
By the way, that is Bill Cosby making that leap at an opponent in an alleyway lot in bluish light.
Nobody is safe. Nuns have guns put their heads. Everyone feels justified in whatever they need to do.
Scotty kicks in an apartment house doorway as people going about their daily lives wonder what in the hell is going on.
Kelly ends up pressing the barrel of a gun up against the child out of time’s head! Everyone is threatening death. Kelly threatens to blow the girl’s brains out! Waitaminnit! What? How the hell did they ever get away with that? You have watch the episode to see how it turns out. I never tell the ending to my own stories, often not to editors. You don’t think I would do it to other storytellers, do you?
Love and passion leave everyone vulnerable and volatile in Robert Culp’s script for “Magic Mirror”, originally titled “The Enchanted Cottage” until copyrights made that title impossible to use at the time.
This is where Bob’s commentaries are most acutely missed. Talking on the soundtrack, Bob sounds as if it is all off the top of his head, but the reel life and real life collide so intricately at the end of the show that I knew he could not have done it by chance.
I asked him about it, because what happens on the screen dovetails so powerfully with what he learns behind the scenes. Bob told me he had been writing a book about the history of I Spy, so it was far from freeform association, though he was so skilled he could make it seem as if it were.
The one declarative sentence that is a major reveal, as it is termed in Hollywood, is like a bullet to the heart or brain. Kelly has fallen in love with Sam Than MacLean from The Tiger.
In a dark, isolated screening room, Kelly is shown film of him and Sam together. In the flickering light, eyes hard, voice hard, he asks how their superior got the sound for the film. Scotty, sitting beside him, states with the same quiet hardness that he put it there. Not moments after Kelly learns his buddy has been the one that “bugged” him, Gabe shows Kelly that right after Sam was with him, she is seen playing up to General Juan Vera, who is negotiating with Russia to install Soviet missiles in his country if they aid him in gaining back the throne.
The U.S. Government has no idea why Sam is seducing the General. They don’t want another Cuba. They don’t want Sam fucking things up. Kelly is seething, from betrayal, to conflicted loyalties.
GABE: Sit down and shut up. Your life and your body and your almighty soul are the property of the United States Government until it is finished with you. I SAID, “SIT DOWN!” You’re a goldfish. An ape in a zoo. The same applies to that girl. You were both out of line! The bottom line is that keeping missiles out of a country near America is more important than people.
When Kelly talks to Sam on the phone, telling her that he and Scotty are coming in, Culp’s performance is like ragged, cracked stone, hard as flint, a lover ready to murder.
I cannot think of another spy show that had such moments of pain and passion nakedly displayed on screen. Patrick McGoohan’s John Drake in Secret Agent never allowed the complexities of love or sex cloud his clear cut view of what he had to do. I am not saying that makes I Spy better; it’s just a difference. Both shows were the best of that genre, in that time.
In the first half hour, nothing is as it seems. Sam harbors as much hate as Kelly. At one point, she plans to murder the General, and Kelly rushes to stop her, knowing she will only hate him for it.
When the General has Kelly and Scotty locked up in a dungeon, one of the locked room comedy moments happens in this dark mirror where the reflections hold as much truth as the real flesh and blood. Chained, the only plan the two agents can come up with is one they feel is cowardly, then in soft voices call for help.
In one of my favorite I Spy endings, Scotty and Kelly lie in a steam room, a sterile, hot hell, devoid of life, barren.
KELLY: There was something wrong with the chick. She was living on cloud nine somewhere. The Department gave her a good life. All she ever did was knock it.
SCOTTY: The Department just crucified her.
KELLY: That’s her problem. We broke every rule in the book.
SCOTTY: Maybe she had a better book.
KELLY: What’s the matter with you?
KELLY: Come on. Spit it out.
SCOTTY: Well, you can lie to me. But you don’t have to lie to yourself.
KELLY: The woman was wrong.
SCOTTY: She was the right-est woman you’ll ever meet.
KELLY: She talked too much. What was she talking about, Man?
KELLY: What am I supposed to do about a woman who talks about salvation?
SCOTTY: Just what you did. Just don’t lie about it.
Carol Wayne plays Temple, a beautiful woman who came to Hollywood to be a movie star, learned the lingo and the ways as stardom eluded her, and ended up living with an arrogant, abusive movie star who makes films abroad. Jack Cassidy’s racist, testosterone-flooded jet-setter is also in the trade of selling secrets, having top secret military photographs edited into the dailies of his filming.
I have a fondness for this episode, whether it is Scotty captured and being shot up with drugs and him recalling routines from Bill Cosby’s comedy albums, to Kelly and Nick Fielding fighting it out in the ring to show his concept of manliness to temple, and Robert Culp, after taking gloved punches to the face, using quick, deft, martial arts moves on him.
A part of me wonders if Carol Wayne had not had success on Johnny Carson and Red Skeleton that she did, if her life would have beckoned the way it did to many starlets, who opted out for what was a life of ease, but also emptiness of spirit.
Adding to the episode, perhaps, are the strolls Kelly and Temple take around Lido, and the discussion of art from El Greco to Goya.
While Kelly sightsees and discusses art with Temple, Nick Fielding tries to break Scotty into revealing secrets. About all Scotty reveals is he is Fat Albert, and a Swede with a freckle.
That’s one of the things I love about I Spy: the sheer audacity within a single episode to leisurely lounge around, and then change the tempo radically.
While Scotty fights to retain who he is and also try to escape imprisonment in a vast, isolated wine cellar, Kelly finally returns with Temple, much to Nick’s displeasure, who is convinced, in no uncertain words, that the two have been having sex. A challenge to fight in the ring ends with Kelly taking the gloves off and having his turn at Nick’s expense. He has no knowledge that Scotty is held captive several floors below him.
Nick doesn’t take to losing. Temple learns Scotty is prisoner, and his intentions, and proclaims, “Nicky…you’re so EVIL!” She is truly appalled at the realization.
“The Trouble with Temple” also has one of my favorite Tag scenes. When an episode might run short, sometimes Cosby and Culp would just riff off each other. A letter from Temple begins the Tag, but it spins off into Scotty asking Kelly what shirt he should choose for an aunt’s would-be husband. When Scotty receives an announcement that his aunt has decided on another man to be her husband, Kelly decides the shirts he chose should stay with him.
“Now, that’s a totally classless shirt.”
“No, see, this one if for me.”
“You had an uncle for a moment…”
“A Room with a Rack” by Michael Zagor has one of the best teasers ever for a TV series.
I hate it when the best part of a story is a nightmare or dream.
DC Comics had such strict confines for their characters that they would create entire issues that were make-believe, with the heroes doing something or living some way that would never be allowed in actual continuity.
The opening sequence is startling in its images, right from the first shot, while the audience is still coming off a barrage of commercials.
Kelly is being tortured. Robert Culp can do being tortured like nobody’s business! The images are stark and ruthless. Sometimes there is a surreal feeling to the proceedings, as men watch the sadism continue. An old man praying bleeds into a skeletal skull. A man with a toothpick probing his teeth dances with lights of pain showing in his eyes. He’s enjoying someone else’s pain.
Whips score flesh. He is on a rack, being stretched. I’m not sure how they got away with all this on network television.
Kelly awakens, moaning. Scotty is in a bed next to him. After telling Scotty about the nightmare, Kelly says, “It felt so real.” And Scotty pulls the bed covers back to reveal Kelly’s bandaged face. “Don’t you remember? It was.” And cut to the title opening and Earle Hagen’s theme music.
The sequence is brilliantly timed, edited and performed. We have no idea where the ancient torture chamber is, but we know it is real, and the consequences of Kelly’s ordeal have had a profound impact on him.
Although the doctor working on Kelly’s rehab tells Anderson — Scotty and Kelly’s regional supervisor for their government agency — that Kelly is suffering from a near “pathological fear for his own safety,” that he controlled himself into a nervous breakdown to not reveal the “metallurgical process” information to the toothpick sadist and the trembling voyeur to Kelly’s inhumane treatment, Anderson is unmoved, even though the scientist who developed the process died during the torture, before the ruthless interrogators started on Kelly. Anderson suggests a little vacation will salve any psychic wounds.
Promptly Kelly and Scotty find themselves at the hacienda of Don Jose Morales scraping shit off their shoes in the owner’s bullring.
In the midst of their endeavor they hear their host in a politely hostile debate with Lindy, who thought he would have Lindy’s sexual favors during the festivities. Lindy has apparently had a sexual liaison with the Don in an earlier timeframe, but that time was long ago and now lost to him.
When Lindy sees Kelly she rushes to him. She knows both Kelly and Scotty, and it is clear she has spent time with Kelly as a lover as well. If the patron agrees to change her quarters, she agrees to stay for the lengthy shindig of food, drink and bullfighting.
That evening at the reception gala, Kelly experiences more than gaiety. Among the guests is the bald-headed man still picking his teeth. Kelly’s reaction is immediate: Shock! Terror! A violent warding-off-of-evil gesture!
I’ve always been struck by Culp’s body language and facial gestures in this sequence. He backs up into the wall. There is no further place to run. He slinks to the floor. His face takes on the demeanor of a kicked dog; cowering, eyes starting to hood fearfully, with memories of pain inflicted.
Bob is a long way from the quiet believer of fate that he portrayed in “The Warlord”.
Scotty and Kelly discuss the situation in their room the next day. Scotty wants to report the toothpick-wielding overseer, but Kelly meekly accepts he will alibi his way out of it.
SCOTTY: He sure kept his cool at the party.
KELLY (Quietly grim, saying what Scotty won’t): I didn’t. Boy, I don’t have much cool these days.
SCOTTY (Ignoring Kelly): Hey, Man, I’ve got a pot on me. I’ve gotta get rid of this pot. Got to do some exercises. (Scotty goes out onto their terrace, does a few moves and grunts, comes back in.) I don’t think those “Ooohs” get rid of nothing really.
The Don challenges Kelly to face a bull within the ring. Lindy is shocked. By using a bull in a practice ring, the animal will be spoiled for the ring. Kelly tells Lindy that the Don said he would pay him back, and that she’s worth more than a bull in the ring.
The Don watches smugly as the bull charges Kelly.
As the bull advances, panic sets in Kelly’s eyes. He breaks and runs for shelter, throwing himself onto the dirt. His face is twisted with self-loathing.
When Kelly flees, Scotty asks to borrow Lindy’s airplane to go see Anderson and let him know the severe emotional battering Kelly is taking. Scotty tells Lindy to look for Kelly in one of the local cinemas. It is one of the places he is likely to go if he is brooding. Lindy finds him in a darkened Mexican theater, playing a Spanish version of The Untouchables, an earlier Desilu production.
I love Lindy. She reveals that she’s known for some time that Kelly and Scotty are doing more than playing the tennis circuit around the globe. As Kelly observes, “You can sober a man right up.” Lindy tries to convince Kelly to let go of this machismo beliefs that are pushing him into severe depression. He tells her, somberly, he won’t find what he has “lost” in a hot bath, to which Lindy replies, “You just might.”
Salome Jens played Culp’s wife in one of my favorite Outer Limits episodes, “Corpus Earthling.” It is one of that anthology series’ most nihilistic episodes. A war hero, with a metal plate in his head, can hear rocks talking. Everyone thinks he is paranoid and hallucinating. He has to destroy virtually everything he loves. And who is going to believe him? The most Bob remembered about doing “Corpus Earthling” was not Conrad Hall’s beautifully lit shots and compositions, but having to carry Salome up a flight of stairs, take after take.
They play beautifully off each other in the Outer Limits episode, and here as Kelly and Lindy.
Salome also had a continuing role in many episodes of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. Shout! released a beautiful complete set of Mary Hartman. You can find it here.
As they talk, two men sit behind them. The men worked at the hacienda but have been fired because they balked at releasing a bull into the arena to fight an amateur. They talk about traditions of branding a coward where they come from, and Kelly agrees, until they start setting off fireworks.
RAFAEL: You are a hard man to provoke.
KELLY: I am a hard man to provoke.
Rafael grabs Lindy by the shoulders.
RAFAEL: Perhaps this might do it.
KELLY: Yeah. That might do it.
A fight ensues, lit by the projector beam. Notice Fouad Said’s use of natural lighting. That is very unusual for its time. The aforementioned Conrad Hall was one of the first practitioners of such an approach to filming on television.
Rafael takes a knife off his fallen friend and throws it to Kelly. He comes at Kelly, threatening our hero, and the panic is back in Kelly’s eyes as he backs fearfully away.
Lindy comes to Kelly’s rescue, thrusts the knife-hand away.
Lindy is a-okay!
Meanwhile, Scotty is working out with Anderson at a gym. Anderson is nonchalantly indifferent about the fact that the enemy that tortured Kelly are where he sent them. He also tells Scotty he knows Kelly is no good for their kind of profession any more, and he smiles conspiratorially that he will get Scotty a “new” good partner.
Kelly is recaptured by his torturers and taken to a medieval museum for tourists in which the torture room is not just for viewing. The torturers leave Kelly within the huge musty room that is filled with devices of ruining human flesh and spirit.
Kelly nervously paces about the instruments of pain until he falls weeping and sobbing by the rack. I can’t recall another hero on television, in that timeframe, who read comics and could be vulnerably human, displaying such emotional collapse.
The last act is a tour de force, as the bald-headed man comes back with his toothpick and henchmen to operate the torture devices and with the trembling old man who looks like he might die any moment.
This is Cyril Delavante. I did not know his work at the time I first saw this episode. I thought maybe he was a local performer in Spain. In fact Cyril is in a lot of films in small roles. He also plays one of the characters living on the ragged fringes of society in several episodes of Peter Gunn.
The bald man and his henchmen find Kelly using the rack as a makeshift bed.
Kelly responds flippantly to the bald man’s questions for the formula. The stretching on the rack begins anew. Kelly utters, through clenched teeth, “One. Two. Three. Four.” His face twists in agony. He eyes look to the dark dungeon ceiling for respite.
KELLY: Hold on. Please, God, hold on.
Scotty learns where Kelly is being held and invades the horror sanctum dressed as a Spanish Museum tour guide. When the bad guys stop him and aim weapons at him, I love his innocent inquiry, “Just tell me one thing. Where’d I go wrong?”
When Scotty enters the inhumane chamber, he tells the sadistic assemblers, “Hey, not again. You guys need a new social director, or what?”
KELLY: Hey! That you?
SCOTTY: Yeah. How you been?
Duplicity and unapologetic actions set Kelly once again up against his superiors and their secret agendas. This time, he lashes out at Anderson, who has underestimated his courage and loyalty.
“Get Thee to a Nunnery” is not as strong as the other contemporary episodes of I Spy, but it still has moments I could not omit from this essay. Peter Lawford plays a British agent who has a less than friendly rivalry with Scotty and Kelly. Lawford’s agent, George Ponsonby Rickaby Hackaby, was originally intended to be a recurring character. He scarcely makes it more than halfway through the episode.
Hackaby has screwed Scotty and Kelly many times in that past, and in the current mission he gets them jailed, which results in our two leads putting guns to his head.
The antagonistic relationship isn’t what is so memorable, though, it is our guys walling Hackaby up with bricks and cement while Kelly reads Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”. You just have to shake your head in disbelief, but also amusement. I adapted “The Cask of Amontillado” for a Marvel Classics Comics issue, with Mike Golden illustrating.
Added to the plus side of the column for “Get Thee to a Nunnery,” it also has Bob and Bill dressed as nuns, taking on the bad guys. They aren’t “The Monuments Men” trying to save art, but paintings are involved within the nunnery.
There are no sequences filmed on location in this episode, but you have Bill Cosby and Robert Culp playing off Wally Cox, with Kelly constantly conking him on the head to keep him from a foreign agent seductress named Conseula. You also have Herbie (Wally Cox) awakens murmuring “Momma” until the very end. It’s light, fanciful stuff, and showcases the fact that I Spy could go from grim and unrelenting to light-hearted humor within a couple of episodes and pull both off with skill.
It also has my favorite locked room scenario in the series: Scotty and Kelly locked in a room filled with crates of oranges. There’s great by-play between the two as they try to figure out how to escape from the prison.
They end up “not eating the breakfast,” but building “a mountain to the window” out of oranges.
“Never catch a cold running up this mountain.” I just want to know: who had to build that mountain of oranges for Scotty to scramble up? The sight always delighted me every time I watched this episode.
Kelly and Scotty fight the bad guys, but the focus is on Wally Cox and his femme fatale. There is also a delightful ending where Herbie gets to turn the tables on Kelly. It looks like a good time was had by all.
This episode features Don Rickles as an obnoxious performer who may bring ill-will to the United States in the country in which he is going to perform.
It features espionage, murder, beautiful women, disappearing bodies on a train.
It also features Rickles trading insults with Bill and Bob. Really. What more do you need to know?
The last episode of the season is another studio set-bound episode. The best thing about it is we see Scotty bring Kelly to his hometown and meet his mom, whom they have discussed throughout the series, but who we have never seen.
The other best part of this is Beah Richards plays Scotty’s Mom. Beah also played Sidney Poitier’s mother in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. The show had stayed away from episodes that feature old friends of Kelly’s turning out badly. This time it’s Scotty’s turn to meet his childhood rival played by Jim Brown.
Scotty’s mom, like Lindy in “A Room with a Rack”, doesn’t shy away when the going gets tough. Go get ’em, mom!
Oh, and Scotty has a sister. Who knew? He only spoke of a brother named Russell.
In the third season, Kelly Robinson goes back to his childhood in “Home to Judgment.” For many, it is their favorite episode of I Spy. It is a tour de force written by Robert Culp that is suspenseful, melancholic, loving, tender, and violent. Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs has nothing on this episode in terms of defending one’s home.
Be here. You won’t want to miss it.
The hardcover edition of Detectives Inc. is still available. Continued sales on the series can help make the new Detectives Inc.: A Fear of Perverse Photos/A Repercussion of Violent Reprisal a reality. The hardcover edition of Detectives Inc. is still available. Continued sales on the series can help make the new Detectives Inc.: A Fear of Perverse Photos/A Repercussion of Violent Reprisal a reality. I’m not sure if IDW still has any volumes left of the hardcover, but you can buy it on Amazon.
The newly designed http://www.donmcgregor.com is up and running, and Gary and Dawn Guzzo have brought it up to date. I’ve been talking to Gary recently about having an update Blog right there on that very page where I can post and you can reply. Check us out!
The biggest I Spy forum on the internet is here, and without Tatia Loring, this “Riding Shotgun” piece could never have become the in-depth, visually elaborate I Spy celebration that I wanted to do.
My two-part Starlog interviewwith Robert Culp is available on the forum:
Part One: “Robert Culp – A Volatile Talent in the Electronic Wasteland”.
Part Two: “Robert Culp – Building A Career in The Hollywood Jungle”
Okay, I love I Spy. You all know that from viewing this. One of the best books ever done on a television series is Marc Cushman and Linda LaRosa’s I Spy: A History and Episode Guide to the Groundbreaking Television Series. People often asked me over the years if I would write an I Spy book. I could never have done one as all-inclusive and well researched as this one. You can find the book here.