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Not to be confused with a popular series of books or the annoying game.
A white tennis pro, Kelly Robinson (played by Robert Culp [Trackdown, The Greatest American Hero]) and his black trainer, Alexander Scott (Bill Cosby) are really spies, saving the world approximately Once an Episode.
I Spy fills an important role in the history of television. Not only was it the first show to be filmed in exotic locations around the world (and utilized revolutionary filming techniques to do it) but it was also the first to feature a black actor in a co-starring role that was in every way equal to the white lead actor's role. Bill Cosby was also the first black actor to win an Emmy Award because of his wonderful work on this show. It is also worthy of note that before being cast in I Spy he had no acting experience. Although Bill Cosby was second-billed (simply because Culp was the more well-known personality at the time) he was not simply a Token Minority but was to be an integral part of the show since its conception. Also, although both characters were created as equals, Alexander Scott was depicted as having a better education (including being a Rhodes scholar) than his partner Kelly Robinson. A very enjoyable series with some truly wonderful chemistry between its two leads.
A TV movie sequel, I Spy Returns, was broadcast back in 1993 and a movie based on the series appeared in 2002 starring Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson. In it, Wilson plays the actual spy, while Murphy is a boxing champion taken along for the ride. It's also quite enjoyable.
The show began airing on Family Net starting September 1, 2011.
- Action Series
- Brainwashed and Crazy: "It's All Done With Mirrors"
- Broken Pedestal: "A Cup of Kindness"
- But Not Too Black
- California Doubling: Unlike just about every other spy series of the time, heavily averted (although there was still some filming done in Hollywood, there was no "Somewhere In (Insert Foreign Country Here)" cheating on this show).
- Chekhov's Gun: The pendant given to the wife of a not-so-late traitor actually contains 131 photos of secrets.
- Chekhov's Skill: Seen practicing judo; minutes later they kick a gun out of a (moronic) gunman's hand.
- The Film of the Series
- Heterosexual Life Partners: Cosby and Culp in Real Life.
- Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard
- Spy Fiction
- Spy School: The Department has a training school on a military base in the San Francisco Bay Area, featured in the episodes "Anyplace I Hang Myself Is Home" and "Tag, You're It".
- They Fight Crime
- Those Wacky Nazis: At least one episode features an ex-Nazi villain.
- Where Da White Women At?: Averted on Cosby's insistence.
- Witty Banter: One could almost drown in it with this show.
- Written by Cast Member: Robert Culp wrote seven episodes.
- Directed by Cast Member: Culp also directed one of his scripts, "Court of the Lion".