Saturday, April 18, 2009

I Spy Rolex GMT: Season 1 [Episode 1]

I Spy Saturday
Season 1 [Episode 1 : So Long, Patrick Henry]
Original Air Date: September 15, 1965

I am introducing a cool new project on Jake's Rolex Watch Blog today named "I Spy Saturday." My objective is to analyze every episode of I Spy from the first episode to the last and get all the best screen captures. I hope to publish a new episode every Saturday until we get through all of them.

Why would I ever commit to such a project? Because it is really cool!!! Why do I think it is really cool? For a zillion different reasons. I was not even born when I Spy debuted on prime time TV and I have only seen a few episodes in my life. This way you and I can watch all the episodes together and comment on them.

If you are not familiar with I Spy, it was a TV show starring Bill Cosby and Robert Culp who were both secret agents for the U.S. Government. Wikipedia perfectly sums it up:

"I Spy was an American television secret agent adventure series. It ran for three seasons on NBC from 1965 to 1968 and teamed Robert Culp as international tennis player Kelly Robinson, and Bill Cosby as his trainer Alexander Scott. In reality, they were both top agents for the Pentagon and, while ostensibly traveling as "tennis bums" (a talented amateur who plays tennis with rich people in return for food and lodging), they were usually busy chasing villains, spies, and beautiful women."

Bill Cosby was amazing and I Spy was the first prime time TV show to star with an African American in a leading role. Throughout the TV show, the color of his skin or the fact that he was of African American decent was never mentioned. So I Spy was really a groundbreaking show.

In this first shot we see Bill Cosby and Robert Culp both wearing Rolex GMT Master watches with Pepsi bezels. In this first episode from the first season there is a young Chinese boy from Hong Kong who seems like he was the archetype for theShort Round character in Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom movie which starred Harrison Ford.

I can't think of another TV show in history where both the stars wore the same Rolex watch–pretty cool. I Spy was also revolutionary in the sense it was always shot on location, all over the world. This first episode was shot on location in Hong Kong. We also learn from watching this very first episode from the first season, that both characters wore GMT Master watches from the very beginning–also pretty cool.

The are several references to 007 including a few mentions of Goldfinger. I remember when I was younger, I always thought it was tacky to wear a sport Rolex watch like a GMT or Submariner with a suit and tie, but I must admit that I now think it looks really cool.

Both Robert Culp and Bill Cosby were nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, three times each, from 1966 to 1968 and Bill Cosby who had never acted before won all three times.

I invite you to watch along with me as we go through the episodes in chronological order, and feel free to comment in the comment section. I hope to analyze a new episode every week–hopefully every Saturday.

I realize in many ways, I Spy is dated and campy and kitchy, but that is what makes it kind of cool and fun. The mod fashions are pretty cool and I think studying the social mores and historical context should be fascinating an fun. I also look forward to doing a podcast with Bill Cosby and Robert Culp in the future...

Note: If you wish to watch I Spy full-screen on your computer, just hit the play button and once the episode starts, if you put your cursor over the video window, you will notice a little square in the upper right hand corner, which will play the episode full screen on your computer.