Advice: Get Smart or U.N.C.L.E.?

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by MattPeriolat, Aug 14, 2009.

  1. MattPeriolat

    MattPeriolat Supporting Actor

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    Fiance and I were going through BB and looking at TV on DVD yesterday and she seemed a bit thoughtful especially about the Complete Series Sets for Get Smart and Man from U.N.C.L.E.. Now, I can't afford them right now, but I am considering one of the two, maybe for Christmas. But I'm at a disadvantage: I've only seen one episode of Get Smart and that was 15 years ago at least, so my memory stinks. Never seen U.N.C.L.E. at all.

    So, I turn to the experts for advice: what are the natures of these shows, what's the quality like and are the Complete Series sets of one or the other or both worth it?

    I await advice.
     
  2. jamoon2006

    jamoon2006 Stunt Coordinator

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    As an owner of the Get Smart box set, here's my two cents...

    I could not get into U.N.C.L.E. I rented the first season through Netflix and it didn't click for me. I was psyched for it because I love Mission: Impossible, Wild Wild West, The Saint, Danger Man...a lot of the 60s spy shows. To be fair, I only saw the first season, so you'd have to get an U.N.C.L.E. fan to weigh in as to the quality of the rest of the series. Personally, I found it too goofy for my tastes. To me, it was like the worst elements of the Bond movies rolled into a series.

    Get Smart, on the other hand, is fun but I don't know if the big box is worth the dough. If I had to do it over again, I'd have waited for the individual releases and just picked up the first three seasons. Seasons 4 and 5 (IMO) aren't as much fun because (1) Max and 99 get together and lose their romantic tension; (2) the spy craze was burning out (I think Mission: Impossible fizzled out too). The show didn't have the same kind of legs as, say, Dick Van Dyke because of the spoof element.

    Seasons 1 and 2 are the most consistently funny and there are some hilarious bits of wordplay and physical comedy that play very well. Some would argue that the box is worth it for the special features, but features have never been that important to me personally. I'd recommend buying Season 1 and seeing how you like it.
     
  3. smithb

    smithb Screenwriter

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    Well they're both spy oriented shows with one an obvious comedy and the other more serious initially but more lighthearted in later years. I don't actually own either one. I saw Get Smart in reruns in my youth and while it was fun at the time I passed on it as far as owning it. Man from U.N.C.L.E I had some interest in owning but you can only get the complete series and while the first year seems interesting the later 2 years many believe went off the deep end, so I couldn't justify buying the whole set. I may rent the first season some day.

    But if you are interested in Spy genre then there are others to also consider. Personally, I went for the following instead and would choose them anyday over the ones you listed:

    - Avenger (specifically the Emma Peel years)
    - Saint (early Roger Moore)
    - Dangerman/Secret Agent
    - Honey West
    - Man in the Suitcase

    Some of these were blind buys for me but I've watched a few episodes of each and have no regrets. Avengers I have seen all the way through on TV through the years and have no qualms in recommending or watching it repeatedly.

    Edit: Following with Jack, I also have the first three seasons of Mission Impossible and would recommend that one to.
     
  4. Guy Foulard

    Guy Foulard Second Unit

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    I've got both at home, and I would give UNCLE the edge, especially with its cast of guest stars to give it more long-running novelty (William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy are together in one good pre-Star trek episode), but my wife would probably give Get Smart the nod, since she loved it as a kid. I think you have to take them in context, since they're both very formulaic, so there's not a lot of stretching beyond the initial concepts. Luckily, you can find them both available much cheaper than their list prices if you keep your eyes peeled.

    I would also strongly concur with recommendations for The Saint and Danger Man--I think those both really hold up with less allowance for nostalgia! Also Man in a Suitcase, but you'd still have to get an import version of that, I think. I like pretty much any US or British 60s spy or detective show, but some are better-written than others.
     
  5. Jeff Willis

    Jeff Willis Producer

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    Matt,

    I have the complete Get Smart set that I bought from Time/Life and I'm presently almost done with S2. I've enjoyed the show so far and the transfer Q is outstanding. I watched the show when it originally aired but haven't seen it again until the DVD release.

    As others have posted (very well) here, I'd say, you probably should consider sampling S1 of Get Smart before deciding on buying further seasons. One thing that I'd mention here is that the 1st season set included the black/white pilot episode and (imo) the pilot had a different flavor to it than the 1st official color episode and the early seasons of the show. When I watched the pilot ep, I wasn't impressed but once I started into the color regular season eps, I've enjoyed the show so far. After reading posts here, it'll be interesting for me to see how the later seasons click for me as well, after Smart & "99" get together, etc.

    UNCLE: I only have the 1st season, thanks to a very good friend , and have watched a couple of eps. The 1st season is B/W and so far I've liked them but I haven't seen this show since its original airings and back then, I wasn't a big UNCLE fan. I rememer following the show somewhat but I didn't watch it every week.

    I agree with Brad's "spy show" list completely. Great list, Brad!

    "Secret Agent" (Danger Man) is among my all-time favorite shows, as well as the Saint B/W shows. I have all 3 of the sets that Brad mentioned, including "Man In a Suitcase". That one was recommended by "Bob H" on this Bd. I went the "region-free" route to get the early Saint complete B/W set from the UK as that's the only way to get the entire B/W set. I'm about 1/3 complete with that set and about 2/3 thru the Danger Man Megaset.

    If you're a Patrick McGoohan fan, I highly recommend "Danger Man" as a B/W UK spy show. The latest megaset also includes the early 30-min "NATO" episodes that began the series. I haven't seen those yet as I'm going through the 1-hr series first, That's the shows that aired internationally and was seen on US TV in the 60's, Tip: There were 2 megasets released by A&E and the 1st megaset doesn't include the 30-min shows which were only aired in the UK.

    The transfers are excellent with both the Danger Man and Saint B/W sets. The Saint set is Region 2 PAL and those transfers are awesome, imo. Crystal-clear quality.

    The Danger Man set includes the original "US opening" theme which was a top-40 hit by Johnny Rivers back in the 60's. It's included as an "extra" on all of the discs, if I recall from my last disc view of the set.

    If you're thinking of a choice between UNCLE, or the shows from Brad's list, I agree with Brad in that I think you'd prefer either Danger Man or the Saint to UNCLE when comparing "spy" genre shows. I don't have the Avenger set but plan on adding that one to my collection eventually.

    I almost bought that complete UNCLE set a few months ago when Amazon had that "deal of the day" sale for the set but I passed on it since the show did move into the "mid-60's camp" genre compared to the S1 flavor.
     
  6. Bob Gu

    Bob Gu Supporting Actor

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    I also, have both the complete Get Smart and U.N.C.L.E. sets and U.N.C.L.E. gets my vote if you can only buy one.

    I am still stuck in Season 3 of Get Smart, which I bought from Time-Life when it first was released. U.N.C.L.E., I zipped right through in a couple of weeks.

    It's a popular opinion that U.N.C.L.E. lost it's way or got campy in later seasons. But I remember the original press for the show where it was stated to be a show "with it's tongue firmly in it's cheek". So, I agree when Jack said above it was "goofy" from the start. I mean, Elsa Lanchester as a mad scientist in season one. You can't get campier than that. But U.N.C.L.E. was great fun and probably the biggest deal of the TV spy craze in the 60's.

    And Matt, remember, Get Smart was spoofing the spy craze, so it's better to watch the spoofee before watching the spoofer.

    I have recently rewatched THE SAINT both the R2 Network b&w set and the R1 A&E color set and I'd now say that The Saint is the best of the international man of mystery genre. (With the possible exception of the giant ant episode. And until I rewatch the complete Danger Man/Secret Agent series.)
     
  7. smithb

    smithb Screenwriter

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    As Jeff thankfully mentioned, some of the sets are best from the UK so keep that in mind. I have the same R2 b/w set of the Saint which is suppose to be much better the the US A&E sets. Also, the Man in the Suitcase is a PAL release. So if you aren't region free then those could be an issue.

    The Avengers set from A&E region 1 is good quality so no fear there. The Emma Peel years are 1965 and 1966 in b/w, and 1967 in color. While I saw a little of the Saint growing up, I saw all the Avengers when aired on A&E in the late 70's and I believe again some time in the 80's. It was the first TV series I bought back in the late 90's when first released. I have not seen enough of the others yet to completely say but I think it would be hard to dethrone the Avengers as my favorite (but it could happen). There is just something about the interplay between Mrs Peel and Steed that never seems to get old. While there is an ending to the Emma Peel run at the end of 1967 there really is no beginning setup. So you could even start with the 1967 color year season and not miss anything, then go back to the b/w years if you find you like it enough.

    They're all enjoyable, so if you are like some of us you will end up with most of them eventually.
     
  8. LeoA

    LeoA Screenwriter

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    I love Get Smart and have been very impressed with the quality of the complete set.

    It also goes on sale from time to time, I bought it from Amazon after a tip from here when it was on sale. I think it was only $65 or so.
     
  9. Jeff Willis

    Jeff Willis Producer

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    Brad,

    Thanks, no problem.

    The main difference between the US A/E B/W Saint set and the R2 Network UK set is that the UK set is the only one that contains all of the B/W episodes. I don't recall how many eps are not included in the A/E set though.

    As far as the transfer Q's, I haven't seen the US A/E versions but as you know, that UK set is A+ transfer Q.

    You're right about the "..Suitcase" set in that it's a PAL set but if I recall, it's set for Region 0 so anyone interested may consider that in a purchase decision.

    Bottom line for me, that Region Free player is the best DVD decision I've made a few years ago.

    Back to your original question though, I'd probably have had a tough time choosing between Get Smart or UNCLE but with UNCLE, I was mainly interested in S1. Given that, I'd take Get Smart but by a close margin.
     
  10. MattPeriolat

    MattPeriolat Supporting Actor

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    Please continue to give advice all, as it is welcome.

    As to other spy dramas from the 60s, keep in mind that right now, it's just between Get Smart and U.N.C.L.E. I want to try the others, but I dunno if my fiance would dig them as much as I would. It's a tough line to walk when trying to entertain not just yourself but someone you love. Anyway, she seemed interested in these two in particular.

    So far, leaning toward Get Smart, pending persuasion.
     
  11. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Producer

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    Are you kidding? Choosing one is like Sophie's choice.

    Get Smart is a comedy, and a great one at that.

    UNCLE has more action and suspense, and later, campiness.

    Both are terrific. Just ask yourself if you want a top-notch comedy or top-notch action show.
     
  12. Kenneth V

    Kenneth V Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Matt!

    I have both Complete Series sets from Time-Life. I have watched both completely and enjoy both shows. However, I think U.N.C.L.E. has the edge over Smart. Yeah, Smart is a spoof and shouldn't be taken seriously, but U.N.C.L.E. was such a better show. Better scripts, acting and music.

    Since you can't afford both and want an honest opinion of what to spend your hard earned money on, I suggest seeing if you can rent the first seasons of both shows to see which one you like more.

    I agree with past posts that don't think Seasons 4-5 of Smart are as good as the first 3 years. NOTHING beats seasons 1 and 2 of Get Smart when it comes to comedies. U.N.C.L.E. gets better in season 2, slips in Season 3 (with some good episodes still), and comes back strong in season 4.


    As for Special Features: Get Smart has some great bloopers and Intros by Agent 99. U.N.C.L.E. has some great interviews with the cast and behind the scenes info.

    Rent both shows and then decide. :)
     
  13. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Since both are fairly expensive purchases, I think your best bet is to rent the first disc or two of each series and see which you enjoy more.
     
  14. younger1968

    younger1968 Cinematographer

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    You need to remember that some shows probably ran out of ideas or how to spice the shows up after long durations. I am looking at buying the Man from U.N.C.L.E next year, because i am huge James Bond/Spy series fan.

    I have the 1-3 season for Get smart and will be picking up season four in October. I grew up watching get smart in syndication and glad that i have this show on dvd.

    I recommend the equalizer/Callan/etc as other spy series that could be of interest too you.
     
  15. Jeff Willis

    Jeff Willis Producer

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    Ditto on the Equalizer. I have the S1 set and it's a great 80's spy/"CIA" flavor type show.
     
  16. Joe Tor1

    Joe Tor1 Second Unit

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    I only have the U.N.C.L.E. Set, but that‘s because my taste runs more toward hour-long drama/adventure/sci-fi. Bias admitted.

    The U.N.C.L.E. Set is incredible in terms of extra features – overviews on every season, and other features including a related Tom and Jerry cartoon. The guest stars were a true Who’s-Who’s of sixties-era guest stars. Far too many to mention, just check IMDB.

    U.N.C.L.E. was also almost four different shows, in terms of its approach per season.

    I’m presently watching multiple seasons at once, to better appreciate the different approaches.

    1; B&W solid spy action with David McCallum more in the background than a full partner.

    2: Color, more McCallum joining Robert Vaughn – a little lighter but still solid.

    3: Full-Out Sixties Camp Fun. The music scores even echo Batman, with some writers and directors in common! In a limited quantity, this is actually a plus!

    4: A pullback from camp. More like Season 1 (though with McCallum) in color.

    It’s really four very good shows in one set! If you can manage the price, this is a must.
     
  17. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    Skip both and buy all three seasons of I Spy (which you can get for about $14 each). The exotic locations are real, the stories aren't dated (because they don't depend on gimmicks or tired fads), and the chemistry between the leads Robert Culp and Bill Cosby is unmatched in television buddy history. Oh, and did I mention Bill Cosby. So this series has your spy element PLUS a very and engaging sense of natural humor. You won't be disappointed.
     
  18. silverking

    silverking Guest

    If you are going down the Region 2 route 'Callan' has excellent storylines. Very different to UNCLE though, very bleak & serious.

    May I also recommend 'Sandbaggers' (R2), this is not an action/adventure series in any way but very believable.
     
  19. MattPeriolat

    MattPeriolat Supporting Actor

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    I actually remember I Spy from when it was in repeats on Nick at Night and it's on my list of to-dos.

    Really is impressive the diversity of opinions I'm getting. Quick question: lots of people have mentioned The Prisoner and The Avengers, etc. Just curious, did those shows ever actually air in the US? If not, how were you exposed to the shows?
     
  20. smithb

    smithb Screenwriter

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    Yes, both aired in the U.S. at times. I believe the Avengers aired on one of the major networks back in the later 1960's. It was apparently nominated for Emmy's in 1967 and 1968. I did not catch it until aired by the BBC on a PBS channel in the late 1970's.

    The show Honey West was created in the U.S. due to the success of the Avengers in Britain, but when the Avengers was brought to the U.S. a year later Honey West was cancelled. Apparently, the feeling was there was not enough room for two dynamic female spy leads.
     

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