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September 3, 2015

The seven greatest TV spies and agents

by Bob Sassone, posted Apr 2nd 2007 11:20AM

Bill Cosby and Robert CulpWelcome to TV Squad Lists (formerly 'The Five'), a feature where each blogger has a chance to list his or her own rundown of things in television that stand out from the rest, both good and bad.

Since I've already done a list of the greatest police detectives and the greatest private eyes, the next list is a natural: Greatest Spies and Agents!

The guidelines for this list? A spy that worked for an agency or someone that worked in an official governmental capacity, such as the FBI or CIA. Here we go:

1. Kelly Robinson and Alexander Scott (I Spy): These two guys weren't only resourceful, but they were the coolest cats around. Robinson and Scott were spies, but they travelled the world working on cases disguised as a tennis pro and his trainer. How awesome is that? The show was filmed on location (you hardly ever see that), and a lot of the dialogue was improvised and casual. Great theme song too.

2. Angus MacGyver (MacGyver): MacGyver did a lot of stuff on his own, but he mostly worked for Pete Thornton at The Phoenix Foundation. Why did place him so high on the list? Because he had a higher success rate than any of the others, and he could stop a a bomb from going off by just using pieces of gum and old tampons. If you're in a tight spot, MacGyver's your man.

3. Stingray (Stingray): Stingray (no first name) was not only caring and outrageously resourceful (master of disguise, master of voices, could forge documents, etc), but he was also good for his clients finanically. It didn't cost you anything if you needed his services! All he asked is that you grant him a favor somewhere down the road. Not bad. I could have put Stingray in the private eye list, but he was an ex-spy, trained by Robert Vaughn, and he mentions in the show that he has his expenses paid for him along the way, which means he must have had some government connection still. Cool car too.

4. Fox Mulder and Dana Scully (The X-Files): Remember when I mentioned that Carl Kolchak never got any recognition for his work saving the world? Well, neither did Mulder and Scully. I mean, they literally saved the world week after week, and no one of any importance believed them (and if they did, they were the bad guys). They were also great FBI agents on basic cases, though the most "basic" case these two handled still involved something creepy.

5. Sydney Bristow (Alias): Can you think of anyone who was better trained than Bristow? Fighting, math, disguises, she could do it all. And she had to deal with a lifetime of lies from her mom and dad, being the central figure in some ancient prophecy, and losing two years of life. Oh, and she was smokin' hot too.

6. Jack Bauer (24): I've only seen a few episodes of this show (I was busy watching Alias and didn't want to get involved in another ongoing spy drama), but there's no denying Bauer's tenacity. He has to deal with nuclear bombs going off and various tortures and the death of his wife and still save the world, all in 24 hours. It takes me longer to organize my DVD collection.

7. The IMF Team (Mission: Impossible): The world would have ended around, oh, 1966 if it wasn't for these endlessly clever men and women who took on very touchy, very complex capers to save the world. Disguises, accents, weaponry, fighting skills...they had it all.

And for those of your wondering why Robert McCall, The Equalizer, isn't on this list, I already picked him here.

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I gotta agree with #4. The Exile was a great show. The finale with the double cross of his best friend was unbelievable. I wish I could get this on dvd.

April 16 2007 at 5:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Stingray! Someone else remembers Stingray! I was beginning to think it just a fever dream of the coolest dude ever, but no, he WAS on television. From the mind of the guy who ripped his scripts out of his typewriter and threw them to the winds, Stingray was too stylish to survive. Sigh.

April 10 2007 at 2:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

this list is blasmaphy!!! no maxwell smart is sacralidge

April 02 2007 at 10:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nick DeLavenge

How could you watch Alias? It stinks. Lousy acting wimpy women beating up muscle heads . . . Hardey har har

April 02 2007 at 9:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


April 02 2007 at 8:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My favorite show was Alias so I'm not complaining since Syd made the list.

April 02 2007 at 8:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

No Maxwell Smart, hmmmmmmm, missed it by thaaaaaaaaaaaat much.

April 02 2007 at 4:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'll give a shout out to U.N.C.L.E. as well as James West and Artemus Gordon. You could even argue they were the first to take a crack at it. When you put gadgets and disguises together, that's the real TV spy stuff I love. Plus two of the greatest themes and openings.

April 02 2007 at 3:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


April 02 2007 at 3:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Any such list that excludes John Steed and Mrs. Emma Peel is a travesty, an amalgam of also-rans. I can forgive the absence of Scarecrow and Mrs. King, barely. But if you're going to mention the entire Impossible Mission Force, how can you omit the team from Spooks/MI:5? Real plots for today's real world beat the often absurd villians of the IMF anytime.

April 02 2007 at 2:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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