Friday, January 28, 2011

Can You Hear Me Now?

It’s Friday, and we could probably all benefit from a bit of lightheartedness in advance of the weekend. So here’s a video clip from the 1965-1970 TV spy spoof, Get Smart, in which secret agent Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) and his superior at CONTROL (played by Edward Platt) try to share top secret information beneath the notorious Cone of Silence. As Wikipedia recalls, this was one of the series’ best running gags:
Invented by “Professor Cone,” the device is designed to protect the most secret of conversations (aka “C.O.S. security risks”) by enshrouding its users within a transparent sound-proof shield. Unfortunately, CONTROL had purchased the device from a “discount place"” rather than the federal government, so it has never worked properly. Naturally, this frustrating situation provides fuel for comedy.

Whenever Maxwell Smart (“Agent 86”) wants to speak to his boss (“Chief”) about a top secret matter, “86” would insist on using the comically defective technology despite being reminded that it never works. The Chief, usually with annoyed skepticism, would press a switch, causing the device to descend from above his desk, surrounding the heads of the two would-be conversers. ...

Part of the humor is in the irony that Agent 86 and Chief cannot hear each other clearly, while bystanders outside the Cone of Silence can hear everything they say as well as speak to them. Sometimes the bystander would even act as a relay so that Chief and “86” inside the device could communicate. Often at the end of the labored conversation, Chief would become terribly frustrated and upset as it quickly becomes clear that the Cone of Silence is (as expected) completely useless.
I don’t know about you, but this just makes me smile.

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