Theme music composer Irving Szathmary
First episode date 18 September 1965
4.9/5 Time Life
Created by Mel BrooksBuck Henry
Country of origin United States
Theme song Get Smart Theme Song
|Directed by Gary NelsonBruce BilsonDon AdamsJames KomackEarl Bellamy|
Starring Don AdamsBarbara FeldonEdward Platt
Writers Mel Brooks, Buck Henry, Leonard B. Stern
Cast Don Adams, Barbara Feldon, Edward Platt, Bernie Kopell, Robert Karvelas
The best of get smart season one 1965 1966
Get Smart is an American comedy television series that satirizes the secret agent genre. It was created by Mel Brooks with Buck Henry and had its television premiere on September 18, 1965. The show stars Don Adams as Maxwell Smart, Agent 86, Barbara Feldon as Agent 99, and Edward Platt as Thaddeus, the Chief. Henry said that they created the show at the request of Daniel Melnick to capitalize on "the two biggest things in the entertainment world today": James Bond and Inspector Clouseau. Brooks said: "It's an insane combination of James Bond and Mel Brooks comedy."
- The best of get smart season one 1965 1966
- Get smart pilot
- Production personnel
- Notable guest stars
- Adams in similar roles
- Books and comics
- Proposed movie
- DVD releases and rights
The show generated a number of popular catchphrases during its run, including "Would you believe...", "Missed it by that much!", "Sorry about that, Chief", "The Old (such-and-such) Trick", "And loving it", and "I asked you not to tell me that". The show was followed by the films The Nude Bomb (a 1980 theatrical release) and Get Smart, Again! (a 1989 made-for-TV sequel to the series), as well as a 1995 revival series and a 2008 film remake. In 2010, TV Guide ranked Get Smart's opening title sequence at No. 2 on its list of TV's Top 10 Credits Sequences as selected by readers.
The show ended its 4½-year run on May 15, 1970, having a total of 5 seasons and 138 episodes.
Get smart pilot
The series centers on bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart, also known as Agent 86 and his female partner, Agent 99. Agents 86 and 99 work for "CONTROL," a secret U.S. government counter-intelligence agency based in Washington, D.C. The pair investigates and thwarts various threats to the world, though Smart's bumbling nature and demands to do things by-the-book invariably cause complications. However, Smart never fails to save the day. Looking on is the long-suffering head of CONTROL, who is addressed simply as "Chief."
The nemesis of CONTROL is KAOS, described as "an international organization of evil". In the series, KAOS was supposedly formed in Bucharest, Romania, in 1904. Neither CONTROL nor KAOS is actually an acronym. Many guest actors appeared as KAOS agents, including William Schallert (who also had a recurring role as The Admiral, the first Chief of CONTROL). Conrad Siegfried, played by Bernie Kopell, as Smart's KAOS archenemy. King Moody (originally appearing as a generic KAOS killer) portrayed the dim-witted but burly Shtarker, Siegfried's assistant.
The enemies, world-takeover plots and gadgets seen in Get Smart parody the James Bond movies. "Do what they did except just stretch it half an inch," Mel Brooks said of the methods of this TV series.
Max and 99 marry in season four, and have twins in season five. Agent 99 became the first woman on an American hit sitcom to keep her job after marriage and motherhood.
Talent Associates commissioned Mel Brooks and Buck Henry to write a script about a bungling James Bond-like hero. Brooks described the premise for the show which they created in an October 1965 Time magazine article:"I was sick of looking at all those nice sensible situation comedies. They were such distortions of life. If a maid ever took over my house like Hazel, I'd set her hair on fire. I wanted to do a crazy, unreal comic-strip kind of thing about something besides a family. No one had ever done a show about an idiot before. I decided to be the first."
Brooks and Henry proposed the show to ABC, where network executives called it "un-American" and demanded a "lovable dog to give the show more heart", as well as scenes showing Maxwell Smart's mother. Brooks strongly objected to the second suggestion:"They wanted to put a print housecoat on the show. Max was to come home to his mother and explain everything. I hate mothers on shows. Max has no mother. He never had one."
The cast and crew contributed joke and gadget ideas, especially Adams, but dialogue was rarely ad-libbed. An exception is the third-season episode "The Little Black Book." Don Rickles encouraged Adams to misbehave and ad-libbed. The result was so successful that the single episode was turned into two parts.
Brooks had little involvement with the series after the first season, but Buck Henry served as story editor through 1967. The crew of the show included:
CONTROL is a spy agency founded at the beginning of the 20th century by Harold Harmon Hargrade, a career officer in the United States Navy's N-2 (Intelligence) Branch. Hargrade served as the first Chief of CONTROL. "CONTROL" is not an acronym, but it is always shown in all capital letters as if it were.
Maxwell Smart, code number Agent 86 (portrayed by Don Adams) is the central character. Despite being a top secret government agent, he is absurdly clumsy, very naive and has occasional lapses of attention. Due to his frequent verbal gaffes and physical miscues, most of the people Smart encounters believe he is grossly incompetent. Despite these faults, Smart is also resourceful, skilled in hand-to-hand combat, a proficient marksman, and incredibly lucky. These assets have led to him having a phenomenal record of success in times of crisis in which he has often averted disaster, often on a national or global scale. This performance record means his only punishment in CONTROL for his mistakes is that he is the only agent without three weeks annual vacation time. Smart uses multiple cover identities, but the one used most often is as a greeting card salesman/executive. Owing to multiple assassination attempts, he tells his landlord he is in the insurance business, and on one occasion, that he works for the "Bureau of Internal Revenue". Smart served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and is an ensign in the U.S. Navy Reserve. He was played by Steve Carell in the 2008 film.
In 1999 TV Guide ranked Maxwell Smart number 19 on its 50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time list. The character appears in every episode (though only briefly in "Ice Station Siegfried," as Don Adams was performing in Las Vegas for two weeks to settle gambling debts).
Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon) is the tall, beautiful female agent whose appearance is useful in undercover operations. Generally, Agent 99 is more competent than Smart, but Smart saves her life in several episodes. "Snoopy Smart vs the Red Baron" is the introduction of 99's mother (Jane Dulo), who appears so thoroughly fooled by her daughter and Smart's cover stories that not even seeing them in combat while a prisoner of KAOS convinces her otherwise. However, at one point her mother indicates that 99's father was also a spy. Creator Buck Henry pointed out to actress Barbara Feldon on the DVD commentary for Season 3 that when he tried to add funny lines for Agent 99, "They didn't want you to be 'joke funny.' They wanted you to be glamorous and interesting." In the episode "99 Loses CONTROL", 99 tells Victor that her name is "Susan Hilton". When Max asks why she never told him what her real name was, she replies, "You never asked," to which Max says he prefers 99. Then, at the end of the episode, she says it is not her real name. Her name is in fact intentionally never revealed, even at their own wedding in season four. She appears in all but seven episodes. She can typically be seen slouching, leaning, or sitting in scenes with Adams to hide the fact that she was slightly taller (5' 9" or 1.75 m) than Adams (5' 8½" or 1.74 m). She was played by Anne Hathaway in the 2008 film.
The Chief (Edward Platt) is the head of CONTROL. Although sarcastic and grouchy, the Chief is intelligent, serious, and sensible. He began his career at CONTROL as "Agent Q." (He joined the organization back when they assigned letters rather than numbers.) He is supportive of Agents 86 and 99, but he is frustrated with Smart for his frequent failures and foul-ups. As revealed in the season-one episode "The Day Smart Turned Chicken", his first name is Thaddeus, but it is rarely used. His cover identity (used primarily with 99's mom) is "Harold Clark". Another time, when KAOS arranges for the Chief to be recalled to active duty in the U.S. Navy (as a common seaman with Smart as his commanding officer), his official name is John Doe. He was played by Alan Arkin in the 2008 film.
Hymie the Robot (Richard "Dick" Gautier) is a humanoid robot built by Dr. Ratton to serve KAOS (when questioned about the curious name, Dr. Ratton replied "My father's name was Hymie!"), but in his first mission, Smart manages to turn him to the side of CONTROL. Hymie has numerous superhuman abilities, such as being physically stronger and faster than any human and being able to swallow poisons and register their name, type, and quantity, though his design does not include superhuman mental processing, most significantly characterized by an overly literal interpretation of commands. For example, when Smart tells Hymie to "get a hold of yourself", he grasps each arm with the other. Hymie also has emotions and is "programmed for neatness". He was played by Patrick Warburton in the 2008 film.
Agent 8 (Burt Mustin) is a retired CONTROL agent who appears in episode twenty three. He is revealed to be the Chief's best friend from his days at CONTROL.
Agent 13 (Dave Ketchum) is an agent who is usually stationed inside unlikely or unlucky places, such as cigarette machines, washing machines, lockers, trash cans, or fire hydrants. He tends to resent his assignments. Agent 13 is featured in several season-two episodes. He was played by Bill Murray in the 2008 film.
Agent 44 (Victor French) is Agent 13's predecessor and is also stationed in tight corners. Agent 44 sometimes falls into bouts of self-pity and complaining, and he would sometimes try to keep Max chatting for the company. Agent 44 appears in several episodes in the second half of season one. In the final season, there is a new Agent 44 (played by Al Molinaro) in two episodes. (Prior to starting as 44, Victor French has a brief guest role in the season-one episode "Too Many Chiefs" as Smart's Mutual Insurance agent.)
Agent Larabee (Robert Karvelas) is the Chief's slow-witted assistant. In a season five episode, it is reported that if anything happens to Smart, Larabee will take his place. Robert Karvelas was Don Adams' cousin. Larabee also appears in The Nude Bomb. He was played by David Koechner in the 2008 film.
Admiral Harold Harmon Hargrade or The Admiral (William Schallert) is the former chief. He founded CONTROL as a spy agency just after the turn of the 20th century. The admiral has a poor memory, believing the current U.S. President is still Herbert Hoover. As a 91-year-old, he has bad balance and often falls over.
Charlie Watkins/Agent 38 (Angelique Pettyjohn) is an undercover male agent and master of disguise. Agent 38 appears as a scantily clad glamorous woman in two season 2 episodes. He also appears once in season four as a different actress (Karen Authur). He can also switch to a feminine voice as part of the disguise.
Fang/Agent K-13 (played by Red) is a poorly trained CONTROL dog, who is seen during seasons one and two. He was a very successful CONTROL agent for quite a few years. He was trained by Max, which probably explains why he does not always follow directions properly. Their relationship began in Spy School, where they were members of the same graduating class. He sometimes uses the cover name Morris and his favorite toys are a turtleneck sweater, a rubber ducky and one of Max's slippers. Fang's career ends in the second season, as he is no longer showing energy in solving his cases. In honor of his outstanding service to CONTROL, the Chief retires Fang to a desk job, burying evidence. (He has a brief role in the 2008 film, being a pet-store dog that Max is in the habit of complaining to.) Fang was written out of the series in season two. He appears in six season-one episodes and two season-two episodes. He appears first in the pilot, "Mr. Big", and his last one was the season-two episode "Perils in a Pet Shop". Shots that involved Fang ended up running long and costing the production a lot of money in overtime and wasted time. After a few episodes of this, he was written out of the series. He was handled by Bill Weatherwax.
Carlson (Stacy Keach Sr.) is CONTROL's gadget man during season two. While inspecting the gadgets, Max usually creates minor mayhem. Carlson follows several CONTROL scientists who fulfill the same function in season one. They are the similarly named Carleton (Frank DeVol), the egotistical Windish (Robert O. Cornthwaite), and Parker (Milton Selzer).
Dr. Steele (Ellen Weston) is a CONTROL scientist who makes three appearances in season three. Dr. Steele is an intelligent, extremely attractive woman whose cover is a chorus dancer at a high-class burlesque theater. The entrance to her laboratory is through a large courier box sidestage. Dr Steele often performs complex scientific procedures while wearing her revealing performance costumes. She is often seen explaining her findings while warming up for her next dance, and then suddenly departing for her performance. Dr. Steele is replaced with the similar Dr. Simon (Ann Elder), who appears in two episodes of season four and is mentioned once in season five.
Harry Hoo (Joey Forman) Hoo is a Hawaiian detective from Honolulu, who is depicted as a send-up of the fictional detective Charlie Chan. Hoo is not a member of CONTROL, but they work together on murder cases. Hoo's introduction usually creates confusion in the manner of Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First?" routine. Hoo always analyzes a mystery by presenting "two possibilities", of which the latter (if not both) is absurd. Max likes to upstage Hoo by jumping in with "two possibilities" of his own, which are even crazier than Hoo's. Hoo responds with "Amazing!", spoken in a tone of disbelief rather than approval, but Max is oblivious to this. Initially, the character was a lampoon of Chan, but in a later episode Hoo appeared rather more brilliant and resourceful, with Max, though helpful as always, appearing more so as a contrast.
KAOS is a (fictional) "international organization of evil" formed in Bucharest, Romania, in 1904; like "CONTROL", "KAOS" is not an acronym. They were supposed to be, but Brooks and Henry were so busy, they forgot to have the names stand for anything. In an episode of the series, after making a series of demands in a recording, the speaker mentions the demands are from "KAOS, a Delaware Corporation". When Smart asks the chief about this, he mentions they did it for tax reasons.
Mr. Big (Michael Dunn) is the presumed head of KAOS and a little person. He only appears in the black-and-white pilot episode, and is killed by his own doomsday death ray. A successor is chosen in another episode but is arrested by CONTROL. A few nameless KAOS chiefs appear in subsequent episodes.
Ludwig Von Siegfried, Konrad Siegfried, Count Von Siegfried, simply Siegfried, or Herr Siegfried in most episodes (Bernie Kopell) is a recurring villain, and the Vice President in charge of Public Relations and Terror at KAOS though his title does vary. Siegfried is Maxwell Smart's "opposite number" and nemesis, even though the two characters share similar traits and often speak fondly of one another—even in the midst of attempting to assassinate each other. Speaking English with an exaggerated German accent, the gray-haired, mustachioed, and dueling-scarred Siegfried's catchphrase is, "Zis is KAOS! Ve don't [some action] here!" He was played by Terence Stamp in the 2008 film.
Shtarker (King Moody) is Siegfried's chief henchman. Shtarker is an overzealous lackey whose most notable trait is his abrupt personality change from sadistic villain to presumptuous child, interrupting conversations to helpfully elaborate, using silly vocal noises to imitate things such as engines or guns. This prompts Siegfried to utter his catch phrase, "Shtarker...Nein! Zis is KAOS! Ve don't [weakly imitates Shtarker's sound effect] here!" (In the DVD commentary for the first episode in which the character appears, in season two, Bernie Kopell notes that "shtark" is a real Yiddish word meaning a person of great strength.) Although he looks rather young for it, he claims to have been track champion of the Third Reich, and the second man out of El Alamein (right behind Siegfried). He was played by Ken Davitian in the 2008 film.
The Claw (Leonard Strong) is a Julius No-type Asian villain representing the east-Asian branch of KAOS. In place of the Claw's left hand is a powerful magnetic prosthesis with immobile fingers and an occasional attachment, hence his name. Sometimes the Claw would accidentally nab something with it, creating confusion. He is unable to pronounce the letter L and mispronounces his name as "Craw", with Smart repeatedly referring to him as "The Craw", much to his annoyance ("Not The Craw, THE CRAW!"). Like Siegfried, he has a huge, dimwitted assistant, named Bobo.
Natz or Spinoza (Ted de Corsia) is a villain who was arrested by Max at an unknown point and desires revenge for it. He attempts to exact his revenge using the KAOS robot Hymie, though Hymie ultimately defects to CONTROL. Later, Spinoza hatches a plan to destroy Hymie using a new robot named 'Groppo', though this plan, too, ultimately fails.
Doctor Ratton (Jim Boles) is a scientist who defected to KAOS. He built the robot Hymie for KAOS, but his abuse of Hymie ultimately leads to Hymie defecting and shooting the Doctor. Doctor Ratton survived the wound to construct the robot Groppo for Spinoza. However, to insure that Doctor Ratton does not return to the side of CONTROL and create more robots to counter KAOS, Spinoza uses Groppo to kill Ratton.
Simon the Likeable (Jack Gilford), who appears in "And Baby Makes 4" Parts 1 & 2 is a KAOS killer whose nice face mesmerizes everyone into liking him—except 99's mother (played by Jane Dulo), who knocks him out with a right cross, because Simon resembles her late, much-hated, and unlamented husband. (99's father never appears in any episode.)
Doctor Yes (Donald Davis), who appears in "Dr. Yes", is a parody of James Bond's Doctor No. He asks questions to his four assistants and they each respond with "yes", individually in their language of origin. They answer mainly in the order of "Jawohl, Oui, Da, Sí." He captures Max and 99 in this episode and accidentally inflicts suicide upon himself. When stung by an "electronic mosquito", he is killed by the poison "spoiler", his poisonous fingernail, when he scratches his face.
Notable guest stars
Get Smart used several familiar character actors and celebrities, and some future stars, in guest roles, including:
Both Bill Dana and Jonathan Harris, with whom Adams appeared on The Bill Dana Show, also appeared, as did Adams' father, William Yarmy, brother, Dick Yarmy, and daughter, Caroline Adams.
The series featured several cameo appearances by famous actors and comedians, sometimes uncredited and often comedian friends of Adams. Johnny Carson appeared, credited as "special guest conductor," in "Aboard the Orient Express." Carson returned for an uncredited cameo as a royal footman in the third-season episode "The King Lives?" Other performers to make cameo appearances included Steve Allen, Milton Berle, Ernest Borgnine, Wally Cox, Robert Culp (as a waiter in an episode sending up Culp's I Spy), Phyllis Diller, Buddy Hackett, Bob Hope and Martin Landau.
Actress Rose Michtom (the real life aunt of the show's executive producer Leonard Stern) appeared in at least 44 episodes – usually as a background extra with no speaking role. In the season 1 episode "Too Many Chiefs" when she is shown in a photograph, Max refers to her as "my Aunt Rose," but the Chief corrects Max by saying that it's actually KAOS agent Alexi Sebastian disguised as Max's Aunt Rose. Fans refer to her as "Aunt Rose" in all of her dozens of appearances, even though her character is never actually named in most of them.
The series was broadcast on NBC-TV from September 18, 1965 to September 13, 1969, after which it moved to the CBS network for its final season, running from September 26, 1969 to September 11, 1970 with 138 total episodes produced. During its five-season run, Get Smart only broke the top 30 twice. It ranked at No. 12 during its first season, and at No. 22 during its second season, before falling out of the top 30 for its last three seasons. The series won seven Emmy Awards and it was nominated for another 14 Emmys as well as two Golden Globe Awards. In 1995, the series was briefly resurrected starring Adams and Feldon with Andy Dick as Max's and 99's son Zack Smart and Elaine Hendrix as 66.
Four feature-length movie versions have been produced after the end of the NBC/CBS run of the TV series:
On October 7, 2008, it was reported that Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures, Mosaic Media Group are producing a sequel. Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway are set to return, but the status of other cast members has not yet been announced.
Get Smart, Again! eventually prompted the development of a short-lived 1995 weekly series on FOX also titled Get Smart, with Adams and Feldon reprising their characters with Maxwell Smart now being the Chief of CONTROL as their bumbling son, Zach (Andy Dick), becomes CONTROL's star agent. A late episode of the 1995 series shows that just as Siegfried is leaving a room, Maxwell Smart accidentally activates an atomic bomb just before the end of the show. (The teaser for the episode shows an atomic bomb going off.) This ending is similar to a device used by the Get Smart-inspired series Sledge Hammer! at the end of its first season. Hopes for the series were not high, as Andy Dick had already moved on to NewsRadio, which premiered weeks later in 1995.
With the revival series on FOX, Get Smart became the first television franchise to air new episodes on each of the aforementioned current four major American television networks, although several TV shows in the 1940s and 1950s aired on NBC, CBS, ABC and DuMont. The different versions of Get Smart did not all feature the original lead cast.
Get Smart was parodied on a sketch in the Mexican comedy show De Nuez en Cuando called ["Super Agente 3.1486"], making fun of the Spanish title of the series (Super Agente 86) and the way the series is dubbed.
An early MadTV sketch titled "Get Smarty" placed the Maxwell Smart character in situations from the film Get Shorty.
An episode of F Troop called "Spy, Counterspy, Counter–counterspy" featured Pat Harrington Jr. imitating Don Adams as secret agent "B. Wise."
The Simpsons episode "Bart vs. Lisa vs. the Third Grade" parodies the opening of Get Smart in the couch gag. Homer goes through many futuristic doors and passageways until he reaches the phone booth, falls through the floor, and lands on the couch—with the rest of the family already seated.
Adams in similar roles
In the 1960s, Adams had a supporting role on the sitcom The Bill Dana Show (1963–1965) as the hopelessly inept hotel detective Byron Glick. His speech mannerisms, catch phrases ("Would you believe...?"), and other comedy bits were adapted for his "Maxwell Smart" role on Get Smart.
When WCGV-TV, a new independent station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin signed on the air in 1980, Adams did in-house promos as Agent 86 to let viewers know when the reruns of Get Smart aired on the station by using his shoephone.
In one of Adams' five appearances as a guest passenger on the series The Love Boat, his character, even when he thought he had been shot, makes no attempt to visit the ship's doctor. The role of the doctor on Love Boat was played by Bernie Kopell, who played Siegfried on Get Smart.
In 1982, Adams starred in a series of local commercials for New York City electronics chain Savemart as Maxwell Smart. The slogan was "Get Smart. Get SaveMart Smart." In addition, Adams starred in a series of commercials for White Castle in 1992, paying homage to his Get Smart character with his catch phrase "Would you believe...?"
In the 1980s, Adams provided the (similar) voice of a bungling cyborg secret agent in the animated series Inspector Gadget. This later became a feature film starring Matthew Broderick in the title role of Inspector John Brown Gadget (in which Adams had a cameo), and its prequel series Gadget Boy and Heather. Neither were directly related to Get Smart.
In the mid-1980s, Adams reprised his role of Maxwell Smart for a series of telephone banking commercials for Empire of America Federal Savings Bank in Buffalo, New York. The telephone banking service was called SmartLine, and Sherwin Greenberg Productions (a video production company and bank subsidiary) produced radio and television ads, as well as a series of still photos for use in promotional flyers that featured Don Adams' Maxwell Smart character wearing the familiar trenchcoat and holding a shoe phone to his ear. The television commercials were videotaped in Sherwin Greenberg Productions' studio on a set that resembled an old alleyway which utilized fog-making machinery for special effect. The production company even secured a lookalike of the red Alpine that Adams used in the television series, making it a memorable promotion for those familiar with the series of nearly 20 years earlier.
In the late 1980s Adams portrayed Smart in a series of TV commercials for Toyota New Zealand, for the 1990 model Toyota Starlet. While it is customary for the actor to go to the foreign location for shooting, Adams' apparent intense dislike of long-distance flying meant that the New Zealand specification car had to be shipped to the US for filming. He also appeared in another series of Canadian commercials in the late 1990s for a dial-around long distance carrier. In the movie Back to the Beach (1987), Adams played the Harbor Master, who used several of Maxwell Smart's catch phrases (including an exchange in which Frankie Avalon's character did a vague impression of Siegfried).
Adams played Smart in a 1989 TV commercial for Kmart. He was seen talking on his trademark shoe phone, telling the Chief about the great selection of electronics available at Kmart. An exact replica of himself approaches him, and Smart says, "Don't tell me you're a double agent." (This was a reference to a running gag on the original series, in which Max detected some sort of setback or danger, and would say to 99, "Don't tell me..." and then 99 replied by stating a confirmation of whatever Max was afraid to hear, to which Max would always respond, "I asked you not to tell me that!")
Adams also appeared in a number of McDonald's Hamburger Restaurant television commercials which also featured numerous classic/nostalgic TV series stars, such as Barbara Billingsley from "Leave It To Beaver", Buddy Ebsen from "The Beverly Hillbillies" and Al Lewis from "The Munsters".
Books and comics
A series of novels based on characters and dialog of the series was written by William Johnston and published by Tempo Books in the late 1960s. Dell Comics published a comic book for eight issues during 1966 and 1967, drawn in part by Steve Ditko.
The 1966 Batman movie, made during that TV show's original run, prompted other television shows to propose similar films. The only one completed was Munster Go Home (1966), which was a box office flop, causing the cancellation of other projects, including the Get Smart movie. The script for that movie was turned into the three-part episode, "A Man Called Smart," airing April 8, 15 and 22, 1967.
In 1967, Christopher Sergel adapted a play Get Smart based on Brooks's and Henry's pilot episode.
In September 2015, the Get Smart play was staged by Wingz Productions. Lead actors Felicity Jean (Agent 99) and Jullian Atkin (Maxwell Smart) delivered memorable performances, with both staying true to the characters.
DVD releases and rights
All five seasons are available as box sets in region 1 (USA, Canada, and others) and Region 4 (Australia, New Zealand, and others). The region 1 discs are published by HBO Home Video, and region 4 by Time Life Video. Each region 1 box contains 4 discs, while region 4 editions have a 5th disc with bonus material. Region 4 editions are also available as individual discs with four to five episodes per disc. The season 1 set was released in both regions in 2008. Seasons 2 and 3 box sets were released in region 4 on July 23, 2008. Seasons 4 and 5 were released in region 4 on November 5, 2008. Seasons 2, 3, 4 and 5 in region 1 were released throughout 2009.
Another box set of the complete series is available in both regions, first published in 2006 by Time Life Video. In 2009 the region 1 edition was replaced by an HBO edition, and became more widely available. All editions contain a 5th disc for each season, with bonus material. The set has 25 discs altogether.
The first four seasons were produced for NBC by Talent Associates. When it moved to CBS at the start of season five, it became an in-house production, with Talent Associates as silent partner. The series was sold to NBC Films for syndication.
Over decades, US distribution has changed from National Telefilm Associates to Republic Pictures, to Worldvision Enterprises, to Paramount Domestic Television, to CBS Paramount Domestic Television, to the current distributor, CBS Television Distribution. For decades, the syndication rights of all but a handful of the fifth-season episodes were encumbered with restrictions and reporting requirements; as a result, most of that season was rarely seen in syndication (though they were shown with more regularity on Nick at Nite and TV Land). The distribution changes (including the loosening of restrictions on the fifth season) were the result of corporate changes, especially the 2006 split of Viacom (owners of Paramount Pictures) into two companies.
HBO currently owns the copyrights to the series itself, due to Time-Life Films' 1977 acquisition of Talent Associates. Home videos are distributed by HBO Home Video. For a time the DVD release was only available through Time-Life (a former Time Warner division). Warner Bros. Television owns international distribution rights.
On August 10, 2015, the entire series was officially released on digital streaming platforms for the first time in preparation for the series 50th anniversary.