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I Spy (1965-1968) is an hour-long action-adventure series fondly remembered for its globetrotting action and hip character humor. The show was groundbreaking in more ways than one: produced by Sheldon Leonard, it was the first to pair a white and black actor in starring roles (Robert Culp and Bill Cosby), and was filmed on location all over the globe. Produced in the midst of the '60s "spy" craze, it shunned camp gadgetry in favor of gritty realism and snappy dialogue, and the repartee of the leads paved the way for the modern-day buddy action-comedy.
Unlike its contemporary series such as Star Trek, Mission: Impossible and The Man From U.N.C.L.E., I Spy had an original score composed for every one of its 82 episodes: two-thirds by Leonard's friend and regular composer, Earle Hagen, and one-third by veteran feature composer Hugo Friedhofer. The style was "semi-jazz," blending local color with swinging big band action and an eclectic mix of suspense—amongst the finest television music ever composed. Although Hagen re-recorded two LPs of I Spy themes at the time of the series, the original television recordings have never been released. (For legal reasons, it is easier for us to release the original TV soundtracks than the LP recordings.)
For this premiere original soundtrack CD, FSM has selected five of the best episode scores: "So Long Patrick Henry" (set in Hong Kong and aired as the series premiere), "The Time of the Knife" (the first Japanese episode), "Turkish Delight" (Hagen's first Mexican score), "The Warlord" (one of the series' most unusual and darkly dramatic episodes, set in Burma), and "Mainly on the Plains" (a Spanish comedy-adventure, one of Hagen's personal favorites).
Through spectacular good fortune, the three first-season scores ("Patrick Henry," "Knife" and "Turkish Delight") are presented in dynamic stereo (along with the series' main and end titles), remixed from 1/2" three-track tape -- possibly the best-sounding '60s television music ever released. The two second-season scores ("Warlord" and "Plains") are presented from clean-sounding mono 1/4" tape.
The CD comes with an illustrated 24-page booklet with liner notes by Lukas Kendall and a foreword by Robert Culp, who in addition to starring wrote the teleplays for "So Long Patrick Henry" and "The Warlord." From big band action to exotic adventure and hip jazz attitude, I Spy is a high point of television music.