3 December 2007 | Doc Jargon
One of the best series ever on so many levels
Robert Culp didn't "phone in" his performances. One throw-away shot had him discover a dead body just before a commercial break, and the expression on his face was genuinely intense.
The show was ground-breaking for showcasing black talent. Yes. And huzzah for that! But it was a cracking good show regardless of racial issues. Among the many reasons already mentioned, the heroes were vulnerable. They were not stronger, better-armed or backed up by SWAT teams ready to rappel from helicopters. They often got into situations where they elected to run ... yes, RUN! Like intelligent, realistic men when facing superior odds. They were beaten (temporarily) more than a few times, and sometimes were close to death. And they weren't the only heroes in the program, as secondary characters appearing only in that episode would step in and prove useful.
"I, Spy" turns out to be superior Cold War fodder in that it showed perhaps the most realistic (although certainly still unreal, being it was early television) depiction of the stalwart American intelligence operatives trying to keep a lid on a shifting world of mayhem, out on the edge, largely alone.
And the friends, with humor and intelligence, leveraged each other into a team more formidable than three independent agents could ever muster.
These fellows showed a healthy appreciation for good things and fine women, but when the chips were down they were quick to be Boy Scouts ... and made it look convincing and even "cool." It is childishly acceptable and common to make fun of the mores of those days, but having grown up on Norman Rockwell I can tell you that the concept of being a "good guy" was serious in those days, and many men behaved with a genuine courtesy and courage that seems unrealistic today.
Cosby deserved his Emmies ... but Culp really supplied better performance than almost anyone else in those years.
Looking for a new favorite? Something you haven't already memorized and become slightly tired of? Get these DVD's and make your acquaintance with two of the coolest, yet still "upright" heroes fictional America ever produced.