After the Civil War, a black ex-union soldier, his wife, and his son settle in Arizona Territory to homestead and build their lives. At first, Caleb Revers race doesn't seem to matter, but then things change.
A pair of American agents faces espionage adventures with skill, humor and some serious questions about their work. Robinson's cover is as a former Princeton law student and Davis Cup tennis player; Rhodes scholar Scott is his trainer as well as being a language expert. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Bill Cosby's character, Alexander Scott, was originally intended to be an older mentor to Robert Culp's trainee agent, Kelly Robinson. Executive producer Sheldon Leonard cast Cosby in the role after seeing one of his routines (Scott was originally intended to be a Caucasian). Due to this casting change, the writers thought an occasional reference to Cosby's race would be a necessity, given the tumult of the times. In an early episode, "Danny Was a Million Laughs", guest star Martin Landau's character makes a racial joke at Scott's expense. Culp and Cosby demanded that no more racial jokes be done, and none were for the run of the series. See more »
During the opening credits sequence of many early episodes, scenes from that episode are shown underneath a closeup of Robert Culp's eyes. If you look closely, Culp's facial expressions (concerned, happy, etc.) almost always match the action happening on the screen. Later in the series, a standard set of action/romance/humor scenes was used. See more »
Travel the world and go back in time. Thanks Hulu!
I was quite young when this series was filmed, but remember the re-runs quite fondly. I have to echo the sentiments I've seen expressed. After finding 2 seasons of episodes on Hulu, I have engaged in an orgy of I Spy watching.
I don't think that we in modern (2009) American culture really remember just how recently it was that the rest of the world was truly mysterious. In the 1960s and early 1970s, going out for Chinese food, even in New York and some other cities with Chinatowns was a bit of an event. We certainly didn't have 10 places that would deliver cuisine from pretty much any culture of the world directly to one's door, as even the suburbs often do today.
It is with that backdrop that I would call any prospective viewer's attention to the often breathtaking location shots in this series. Not only do you get a real feel for how various parts of the world looked, but you get to do so in a time when telephones weren't always right there in a pocket, and a car was a massive yet often stylish thing.
In a time now when it seems no drama can run for more than 10 minutes without something exploding, I Spy still holds the attention of the viewer, transporting them to places we've not been (and can't go back to in time), while presenting themes that recur even in a post-Cold War world.
Alexander Scott is a genteel man, but in no way effete or effeminate, despite his education. He also was someone who came from the city and worked his way to an exceptional education. Scotty tries, wherever he is in the world, to be the antithesis of the "Ugly American", but is a patriot at the same time. His skills as a polyglot certainly don't hurt.
Kelly Robinson is a little more coarse than Scott, but not above finding opportunities for adult frivolity and perhaps even silliness. Though occasionally falls off the straight-and-narrow, is an upstanding guy by most modern standards.
As someone who has lived and worked in the vicinity of Washington, D.C. and the government it houses for most of my life, I find it refreshing that these characters can discuss some of the moral vagaries around their jobs and missions without immediately leaping (as characters seem to in modern movies) to defection or total dissipation. (Don't even get me started about the first Mission:Impossible movie.) Yes, sometimes they face some difficult ethical choices, and they do the best they can, but as you'd expect, some choices weigh more heavily than others on them.
The thing that makes I Spy resonate with people is that these two seem like normal guys. Granted, one is brilliant and they're both very highly trained to do an exotic job, but they're all too human while still, in some humble way, being heroic.
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