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October 3, 2015

I Spy: Seasons 1-3 - DVD review - VIDEO

by Bob Sassone, posted May 5th 2008 4:46PM

I Spy DVDIf you've never seen the '60s intrigue drama I Spy, and haven't had the displeasure of having your brain cells infected by the abysmal big screen adaptation from a few years ago that starred Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson, you're in for a treat: the entire series is now on DVD.

Oh, it was on DVD before, but there are two differences with this release. One, the entire series has been remastered, and two, the series is in order by season. The other releases featured individual DVDs that had random episodes on them. The entire series had been released (I think, anyway), but since they weren't in season order, it was rather odd.

Luckily, the new sets take care of that error. And those aren't the only two surprises on this set.

Packaging: No problem with the way each set is packaged (rather old-fashioned plastic boxes with the 5 DVDs inside), but there isn't any guide to tell you what the episodes are about! There's just a listing of the episodes on the back of the box. I guess this is where we thank sites like IMDb.com and TV.com for providing episode guides. Not much info on the extras either (more on that below).

Audio/Video: Though I sense some scratches on the opening credits, the picture and sound quality on these are great; probably the best these episodes have ever been seen.

Extras: This is the other surprise I hinted at above. There are actually seven commentaries on this set. I really didn't expect that many. I can't remember how many there were on the other sets, though I know Robert Culp did some on the "Robert Culp Collection" set. Culp appears on these commentaries (sorry, no Bill Cosby is to be found) and is very honest, blunt, and colorful. Some of the commentaries seem to be stories in general about the show and not specific to the episode being watched, like you see on most commentaries.

Misc.: One of the great aspects about I Spy was that it was one of the rare shows that actually filmed on location. So that means we get episodes where spies Kelly Robinson (Culp) and Alexander Scott (Cosby), posing as a tennis player and coach, go around the world to locations like Japan and Hong Kong and Mexico to fight bad guys (wow, a TV show about tennis and spies? It's like they tapped into my dreams). It was a quality show, produced by the people who also did The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Andy Griffith Show (including Sheldon Leonard), and very well done. The plots were rather topical, the action believable, and the humor infectious (Culp and Cosby are very comfortable with one another and ad lib quite a bit). The series spawned a TV reunion movie that, unlike most TV reunion movies, doesn't suck at all.

You can also watch full episodes of the show on Hulu. Below is the first episode, "So Long, Patrick Henry," with Ivan Dixon.

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Ah, yes, the reunion movie. Two things about it I remember: Yes, it didn't suck; but the theme music did. Said music was played by synths, and sounded really crappy. I couldn't believe that noted jazz fanatic Bill Cosby would have allowed this abomination.

May 06 2008 at 10:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David D

What's interesting, although not surprising, is that the billing order of the actors has been switched on the box.

"Oh, no -- it's just alphabetical now!"

Incidentally, there's a terrific album of Earle Hagen's original music from the show (NOT the soundtrack albums that were released in the '60s, but the actual cues) available at Film Score Monthly, and I think Amazon as well. It still sounds great.

May 05 2008 at 6:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeff N.

I Spy was a great show. Also the opening credits with theme song is one of the very best.

May 05 2008 at 5:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jeff N.'s comment
BC McKinney

Yeppers. Now I'm going to have to go down to the basement and dig through my LPs to find the soundtrack album.

May 05 2008 at 6:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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