I Spy-Volume 1 (1965) (NTSC)

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Released 3-Sep-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1965
Running Time 1428:16 (Case: 1400)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (7)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Earl Bellamy
Paul Wendkos
Christian Nyby
Richard C. Sarafian

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Robert Culp
Bill Cosby
Case ?
RPI $79.95 Music Earle H. Hagen
Hugo Friedhofer
Van Cleave

Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.29:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I have very fond memories of watching this show as a young boy and thinking it was wonderful. I loved the two main characters, Kelly Robinson (Robert Culp) and Alexander Scott (Bill Cosby), suave and incredibly calm secret agents, travelling the world, defeating the baddies, swapping banter and getting the girls. It has been many years since I saw any of this series, but I did enjoy the recent movie remake starring Owen Wilson and Eddie Murphy. I know it was not a great film but I still found it diverting entertainment. With all of this as background I went into reviewing this seven disc set with great expectations.

    The basic concept of the series is that Kelly and Scotty are two US secret agents who masquerade as a tennis player and his trainer/masseuse. They travel the world with Kelly playing tennis and them being assigned missions in each episode usually by some strange method. The tone of the episodes veers between slapstick and quite gritty, especially for their time. The grittier episodes are the ones which have stood the test of time best. Examples include A Cup of Kindness and Dragon's Teeth. Others at the more slapstick end of the spectrum have aged badly such as Chrysanthemum. Things which are common to all episodes are the cool theme tune, the effortless banter between the two stars, bad acting from the supporting cast and a lack of modern political correctness.

    The show was ahead of it's time in 1965 in some ways especially with having an African American in a leading role and being actually shot in exotic locations such as Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, Morocco and many more. Some scenes are obviously studio shot however many are obviously on real streets in real cities.

    This series ran for three seasons on US television, showing from 1965 to 1968. In total 82 original episodes were made during those years. This set (titled Volume 1) includes 28 of those episodes but bizarrely not the 28 episodes which made up the first season. Six episodes from the first season are missing and have been replaced with six episodes from Season 2. The very first episode ever shown is not included, however, the episode actually made as the pilot is. Unfortunately, the pilot episode Affair in T'sien Cha is exceedingly ordinary and I struggle to understand why you would pick up a series based on that episode. The pilot was originally shown half way through Season 1 but is the first episode here. The episodes which are not included (from Season 1) are So Long, Patrick Henry (Ep 1), The Loser (Ep 6), Tatia (Ep 10), The Tiger (Ep 15), Court of the Lion (Ep 18) and Bet Me A Dollar (Ep 20). The episodes which are included are not strictly in order but rather seem to be fairly randomly spread over the discs. I have no information as to why this configuration has been chosen or why some episodes have been excluded.

    So then, were my great expectations met by this set? Well no, not really. Unfortunately, I think that going back to a show such as this with only memories of how wonderful it seemed when I was a boy is bound to end in disappointment. My overwhelming sense is that the episodes were very variable in quality, with some meeting my expectations and others being either quite uninteresting or just dumb. As long as you don't go into this set wearing rose coloured glasses there is much here to enjoy.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    The video quality is quite watchable but certainly nothing spectacular.

    The feature is presented in a 1.29:1 aspect ratio, non-16x9 enhanced, which is the original aspect ratio. It is NTSC formatted, so ensure your setup can reproduce full colour in NTSC before purchasing.

    The picture was quite sharp for its age. Shadow detail was pretty ordinary without being terrible. The bitrate was generally low and grain and background macro-blocking are fairly common.

    The colour was good for its age however there were significant shading changes during some scenes such as at 46:00 in the opening episode. There was also some chroma noise here and there and some bleeding from reds.

    Artefacts abound including tape tracking artefacts, vertical and horizontal lines, spots, blobs, hairs, reel change markers, aliasing, jagged edges, jumps, telecine wobble and a bit of posterization. None of these are terrible in their own right.

    There are no subtitles.

    As far as I could tell there were no layer changes during episodes.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is fine.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 1.0 mono soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was mostly clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync. Some dialogue was muffled and little difficult to make out.

    The music by Earle Hagen and others is variable, sometimes cheesy sometimes surprisingly good.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    No extras.


    The menu design is very simple. It includes a nice intro. There are two options on each menu, Chapter selection (which allows selection of episodes or chapters within them) and Feature Start (essentially Play All).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This series is available in Region 1 seemingly in the same format. Draw.


    A seven-disc collection of the 1965 hit TV series I Spy. The episodes included are somewhat variable in quality.

    The video quality is watchable.

    The audio quality is fine.

    No extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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