Between 1965 and 1969, the TV series 'Get Smart' could be seen on Saturday nights. "The only time NBC had given us a good lead-in show was 'I Dream of Jeannie', the first season (1965-66). They put 'Please Don’t Eat the Daisies' ahead of us next (1966-67) and it was never above 89th place in the ratings, and last year (1967-68) it was that thing, 'Maya', which bombed out." In the 1968-69 season, 'Adam-12' provided lead-in. In its last season, 1969-1970, 'Get Smart' moved to CBS and on a new night, Friday. 

"Maxwell Smart may be a terrible spy, but you can't knock his popularity." Don Adams observed. On 'Get Smart', Don played Secret Agent 86 working for a top secret government organization known as CONTROL which battled against the evil forces of KAOS. The series was shown in some 67 countries at the time. Don made the point in 1965, "On television a comedian must take some compromises between what he would like to do and what he thinks will be successful with the general public. My own personal taste calls for satire. Straight satire. But, I'm told that on television straight satire can be deadly. So we have to dilute out satire with some broader humor." 

Don believed, "An actor is basically a puppet. I'd like to do some writing and directing. The highest form of creativity is writing and directing. A bad actor can be made to look good by writing and directing, but a good actor still needs directing and writing. A few actors can maybe breathe something into a bad script, but not many." On reflection, "I know now that every episode can't be a gem, which I used to drive myself crazy trying to do, until I realized I'd never really be satisfied, but I still have to try. Some of the shows I think are the worst, other people tell me are great. Then I'll come up with one I believe is a classic and friends will say, 'It was all right', but I know they didn't like it." 

Don also disclosed, "In the old days I got involved in the scripts and did a lot of improvisation on the set. During the series I began using my own daily experiences for material in the show. There was no problem in picking up his characteristics and that nasal, staccato voice. It's like fingernails on a blackboard. Max is great to play because I'm so locked into the character. People on the street still (in 1979) yell, 'Hi, Max.' They never call me Don...If you look at 'Get Smart' today (in 1980), the reruns, they stand up. The writing was sensational; it's as hip today (in 1980) as it was when it was made (back in 1965). It has stood the test of time, because of the way it was done."

In 1980, Universal Studio invested $10 million in recreating 'Get Smart' for television with a 2-hour movie pilot. Don continued, "Then Universal took a survey and discovered there was a large audience to whom 'Get Smart' was a cult. They included people in their 20s and 30s who had grown up with the show, as well as kids 6 to 15 who have seen it in reruns." As a result, the motion picture, 'The Nude Bomb' was made. "The picture itself is a combination of James Bond and 'The Pink Panther' character, Inspector Clouseau," Don elaborated. "The picture did very well - $20 to $25 million domestic – and they project it will do very well in foreign countries. So they're going to make money on it. I hated the picture. What happened was that the first cut was 3½ hours and they cut 2 hours out of it, and the 2 hours they cut was the best part of the picture, and I had no say in it.

"I wanted it to be called simply 'Maxwell Smart' or 'The Adventures of Maxwell Smart'. But the producers came up with a list of titles, which they tested, and they said 'The Nude Bomb' tested best as a title. I said, 'That's a terrible title. What is that, 'The Nude Bomb?'. But they had tested it. I found out in Hollywood they were testing TV shows…They have a testing place called ASI (Market Research Inc.). There was an expose in the Los Angeles Times and they found out they were taking busloads of people from mental institutions and using them for testing shows...Which explains a lot of the shows that are on television.

"What have you got today (in 1979)? I watch old movies, sports, the news and talk shows. There isn't one show that I can tell you that I have tried to look at that I could sit through more than 5 minutes. I don't really think the rating system is accurate. I can't believe that you can put a little box in some home and have that represent 100,000 people. I think there has to be another way. If the rating systems are accurate, which I doubt, but if they're a true representation of what this country wants to watch, then it's scary. And if it's not, then millions of people are being subjected to programs that are really bad because of an erroneous rating system. It's my own opinion, but I don't believe the taste of the American public is as low as what they show on television."

As Maxwell Smart, Don conceded, "The image is so strong, it's impossible to get rid of. It brought me a lot of fame, a lot of money and a lot of awards. That's the plus side...On the debit side, it typecast me as a bumbling idiot. I wanted to play serious, dramatic roles and it's very hard to get them, especially when everybody thinks I talk like this." However back in 1979, "That show is played 5 times a day in Los Angeles. Segments are run back-to-back at 11:30 and midnight. Now (in 1979) I think the show is hilarious. I find myself laughing out loud, which I've seldom done before."

Don made the point, "James Bond is a super guy, handsome, debonaire. He's surrounded by great looking broads. He always does the right thing. Guys in the audience live vicariously through him. Max is what the ordinary guy would really be like if he was made a secret agent. Men can identify with him. He bungles his way through to victory in a triumph of ineptitude."

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