Thursday, May 11, 2023

From the Archives: School Days

School Days
Helllllpppp! Max and 99 get tied up in "School Days".

(I'm back in the saddle after a few hectic work weeks. Here's another post from the archives.)

Episode Three
This episode is big on smoldering attempts to smooch.
Here's failed kiss number one.
School Days
(original air date: 10-2-65)
Cast: Hillary Gainesborough – Ben Wright, Grillak – Leo Gordon, Dimitri – Phil Roth, Zukor – Henry Brandon, Dean Watson – Byron Morrow, Mrs. Green – Kitty Kelly, Fang - Red, Control Trainee - Robert Karvelas
Director: Paul Bogart
Writers: Stan Burns and Mike Marmer
Producer: Jay Sandrich
Filming Location: Paramount Studios, Hollywood

Max, 99 and Fang infiltrate Control's spy school to flush out a Kaos agent. Max uses the alias of new recruit Alexander Loomis while 99 works undercover as an instructor. Even Fang, aka Morris in this episode, shows up for a refresher course. In the process, Max almost gets killed and nearly flunks his weapons class.

Max relives spy school - only it doesn't go too well the second time around.

My Thoughts
Some people tend to enjoy their school years — they're more than happy to peruse their high school yearbooks and are probably on their class reunion planning committee. 
Others have nightmares about their Alma mater — like The Old I Forgot My Locker Combination Nightmare or The Old I Have to Re-take This Class or I Can't Go On With Life Nightmare. 
Max is probably living one of those nightmares in this episode. He breaks his Wrist Watch Strangling wire, lands one of Control's razor sharp hats in the neighbor lady's yard and can't put together an automatic weapon designed for easy assembly.
He also fails at his attempts to expose which new Control recruit is the impostor. Spy students Grillak, Dimitri and Zukor all come off as completely shady creepers. This episode, by the way, is a character actor carnival – and a few of these guys will show up in other roles later in the series.
Outside of class Max gets caught digging through the school's files, has knives chucked at him and is shot at. To cap it off, he and 99 find themselves tied to a bunch of dynamite with only Fang as their savior.
It's worth noting that the spy training school is in a pretty nice-looking neighborhood and tries to disguise itself as something of an old person's rest home. It's also worth wondering if they had to apply for a variance to be located in a residential neighborhood.
Control makes a concerted effort to keep the school's activities secure from Kaos — hence 86 and 99's assignment. However, the school's neighbors know what's up. 
Max's notion that the location is a great front comes into question when he gives Mrs. Green the password and she directs him to the house next door.
The episode's final conversation sums up Control's security habits:
Max (to 99): There's nothing more important than security. Nothing. Without security, none of us would be safe.
Man: Is this Mrs. Green's house?
Max: No, this is the spy school. Mrs. Green's house is over there.

Watch for: Mrs. Green telling the spies in training they don't get their hat back and Fang "blowing" out the candle.

Failed kiss number two. Gunfire can really kill a mood.

• Ed Platt does not appear in this episode
• Barbara Feldon often shares how she did Get Smart in her bare feet due to the height difference
The real hero of this episode is Fang.

between her and Don Adams. "School Days" offers evidence of this. Toward the end of the episode, when Max is rounding up the suspects, you can see Barbara Feldon's bare foot in a mirror. Personally, I think a Max and 99 at their own natural heights would have been cute.
• This episode offers us the first appearance of Robert Karvelas as a spy school student. Karvelas was Don Adams’ first cousin and had a twin brother named Bill. Adams brought Karvelas onto Get Smart starting with a few bit roles. He would eventually become dimwitted Control agent Larabee.
• English actor Ben Wright provided the voice of Sherlock Holmes in the American radio show of the same name. He was also known for portraying Herr Zeller in The Sound of Music and made the rounds of various TV shows.
• Character actor Leo Gordon was known for playing brutes but was also a screenwriter and novelist. He had roles in many TV shows and movies, including McLintock! where John Wayne sends him down the mudslide and utters "Somebody oughta belt you, but I won't! I won't! The hell I won't." Oh, and if you'd like to play Six Degrees of Get Smart, the score to that move was composed by Frank De Vol aka Professor Carleton.
• Character actor Phil Roth also appeared in the third season episode "Maxwell Smart, Private Eye" as the Peter Lorre type character, Mr. Peter. In addition to TV work, his movie credits include One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Catch-22.
• German-American actor Henry Brandon was known for playing ethnic roles ranging from Arab and Native American characters to Asians, including Dr. Fu Manchu in Drums of Fu Manchu. He also appears in the fifth season episode "Pheasant Under Glass" as Belasco.
• Byron Morrow typically played authority figures — including in two Star Trek episodes. He played Admiral Komak in "Amok Time" (that would be the episode where Spock returns to Vulcan to engage in a mating ritual) and Admiral Westervliet in "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky." He also appeared in two third season GS episodes as Dr. Harris in "When Good Fellows Get Together" and as Agent 37 in "The Spirit is Willing." (Would you believe I'm a Star Trek fan?)
• Kitty Kelly had been a member of the Ziegfeld Follies and appeared in numerous films through the 1930s and 1940s.
Glick meter: After a hiatus in episode two, Mr. Smart's nasal tones have returned. Max's suspect round up at the end of the episode is reminiscent of Don Adams' “Defense Attorney” routine.
Oh Max meter: We get a lot of slinky body language and an "Oh Max" for our troubles. They just miss kissing twice: Once at the beginning of the episode – only to be interrupted by Fang and as Max is trying to expose the Kaos agent and put together the machine pistol – until Gainesborough starts shooting at them.
Control Agents: Milk man; Man with briefcase; Watson, dean of the training school; and Grillak, Dimitri and Zukor — if they graduated.
Kaos Agents: Hillary Gainesborough
Gadgets: Car Phone, Watch Communicator, Multi-Part Automatic Machine Pistol (it's designed for rapid assembly - unless you're Maxwell Smart), Wristwatch Strangling Wire, Razor Edged Hats, Plastic Impact Bomb jacket with carbon paper lining, High Powered Binoculars, 
Episode Locations: Control's training school

Would you believe Barbara Feldon is in this picture? Look close and you can see her foot.

From the Archives: School Days

Helllllpppp! Max and 99 get tied up in "School Days". (I'm back in the saddle after a few hectic work weeks. Here's anothe...