art by Aireen Arellano (to view larger version, click here)
SHOW: Get Smart
EPISODE: “The Groovy Guru”
FIRST AIRED: Jan. 13, 1968
The opening scene of “The Groovy Guru” finds our hero Maxwell Smart sporting an unfortunate mushroom coif and color-clashed getup that makes him look like a Monkee caught in a thrift store explosion. He meets up with an agent undercover as a hippie chick who spouts fresh-off-the-shelf slang that all the kids are using these days: “Enough here for the fuzz to peel and freeze.” Quoth Agent 86 in response: “Huh?”
It shouldn’t take long for a viewer even dimmer than Max to realize that this is going to be a Let’s-Make-Fun-of-Youth-Culture episode. Get Smart, one of the looniest live-action cartoons to ever bombard television, was a veritable funhouse of slapstick and satire, designed to poke fun at the Cold War, foreign policy, xenophobia, the spy genre itself, and anything else that heated up the pop cultural and current event thermometers between 1965 and 1970. Its roundhouse punchlines and absurd sight gags amounted to that double helix of “dumb humor + smart satire” alive and well in modern fare like South Park, Arrested Development, or Childrens Hospital.