With the pending release of the new version of Get Smart, and many fond childhood memories of the original series, I thought I would assemble a list of TV spies who made great movies. Unfortunately, I was confronted with a mountain of evidence that international men and women of mystery have suffered horribly in their transition to the big screen.
That conclusion sounds counter-intuitive. After all, a movie can focus on a single defining story in a spy's life, while a television series, by its very nature, must include many routine episodes that fit into a familiar formula. The movie can have a much bigger budget, allowing for a variety of international settings, while the TV show often takes place in just one or two locations on the back lot.
But I think the best TV spies were successful because the producers made sure that the characters were the stars. Two-shots and close-ups of people talking work really well on the small screen, and sharp, well-written dialogue is always a bonus. Just a list of character names invokes pleasant nostalgia, while the movie versions have, for the most part, justifiably faded into oblivion.
1. Wild Wild West
Two words: Giant spider. Need I say more?