TV feast of James Bond and other agents
James Bond is everywhere this holiday weekend. He's in Daniel Craig's big-screen blockbuster "Skyfall." He's in Syfy's Bond Movie Marathon, starting tonight at midnight with Roger Moore's "For Your Eyes Only" and Sean Connery's "Dr. No." There's more 007 action on Syfy both Thursday and Friday 9:30 a.m.-5:30 a.m. (Full lineup at syfy.com/schedule.)
Bond is on Cloo, too, in that channel's 48-hour marathon The Many Faces of Bond. Starting Saturday at 6 a.m., Cloo spans Connery's "Dr. No" to Brosnan's "Die Another Day." (Full lineup at cloo.com/schedule.)
And then there's TV's horde of pseudo-007 series. The Bond craze of the 1960s begot a batch of knockoffs, genre-benders and lampoons that remain cult faves. More recently, the tube's new 21st century spies have captured a whole new audience.
Or not. Remember "My Own Worst Enemy"? "Undercovers"?
They couldn't measure up to American TV's most memorable secret agents:
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (DVD) First-in on the Bond boom was NBC's 1964-68 tale of Robert Vaughn's suave Napoleon Solo and David McCallum's mop-topped Illya Kuryakin. Next came Stefanie Powers' one-season spinoff "The Girl From U.N.C.L.E."
The Wild Wild West (DVD) Robert Conrad starred as two-fisted James West in CBS' 1965-70 Western twist. Aided by Ross Martin's chameleon sidekick, he escaped evil contraptions deployed by 19th century mad scientists.
I Spy (Aspire cable channel, weekdays, 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.; Hulu streaming, DVD) Bill Cosby coached Robert Culp's globe-trotting tennis player in NBC's 1965-68 drama. Actually secret agents, they were also best friends, making this serious series a civil rights-era landmark.
Mission: Impossible (Netflix streaming, DVD; complete series box due Dec. 11) CBS' 1966-73 hour of impassive intrigue tracked an international crew of agents recruited for their disguises (Martin Landau), beauty (Barbara Bain) and tech skills (Greg Morris).
Scarecrow and Mrs. King (DVD) CBS' 1983-87 hour used the original "U.N.C.L.E." premise of an innocent citizen (Kate Jackson's housewife) ad hoc engaged to aid a secret agent (Bruce Boxleitner).
Macgyver (Cloo, Monday 6 a.m.-Tuesday 6 a.m.; Netflix streaming, DVD) Richard Dean Anderson's 1985-92 ABC hour went family-friendly, relying not on weapons or gadgets but everyday objects and scientific ingenuity.
Archer (FX, Saturday midnight-1 a.m., 2-3 a.m.; Netflix streaming, DVD) The most Bondian of all, perhaps, is FX's current tongue-in-cheek adult cartoon about a vain master spy, his backbiting colleagues and his controlling mommy. New season in January.