Don Adams survived the jungles of Guadalcanal, was a commercial artist, comedian and drill sergeant, and provided the voice for both Tennessee Tuxedo and Inspector Gadget, but what he'll be remembered for is the phone he kept in his wingtip.
I have two early television memories. One is the radio call that began every episode of the police procedural Adam-12, and the other is the door sequence that ran with the credits for Get Smart. As I grew older, my fascination with Officers Reed and Malloy faded, their place in my pantheon of television action men to be taken by the likes of Steve Austin, of The Six Million Dollar Man, and Magnum, of Magnum P.I.. But Maxwell Smart, the bumbling spy who went by the code name Agent 86, never suffered a fall from grace.
In fact, when people ask me what I consider to be the best television series ever produced, I might mention M*A*S*H or I might praise Twin Peaks, or perhaps note the social significance of All in the Family. When someone asks for my favorite, however, the title always goes to Get Smart.
There was, and still is, something about the humor, an odd mix of slapstick and verbal comedy, of recognized catchphrases and unexpected situations, that works for me. The show has become dated; it was, after all, a rotary phone that Smart kept in his shoe, and his tech-savvy home was always operated from a bulky control pad, not one of the sleek remotes that control our lives today. That, perhaps, is part of the Get Smart appeal. It is of a very definite time and place, as much a historical document as the semiserious Cold War thrillers it poked fun at.
Yes, the man behind Maxwell Smart is gone, but the character, silly and sophomoric, will live forever.
That, after all, is what syndication is for.
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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