I, Spy: The Barter (1966)

Director: Allen Reisner
Starring: Robert Culp, Bill Cosby, John Abbott, Philip Ober, Lisa Jager, Roger C. Carmel, Joan Blackman
Title theme: Earle Hagen

Here’s a quick one. The Barter is an episode of the I, Spy television series which starred Robert Culp as Kelly Robinson and Bill Cosby as Alexander Scott. For the one or two of you who have never seen an episode of I, Spy, the premise is pretty simple. Robinson and Scott are spies, but Robinson also happens to be a professional tennis player. Scott acts as Robinson’s trainer. Using the world’s tennis tournaments as cover, Robinson and Scott are able to travel the world with relative ease.

The episode opens in Russia. Professor Shenko (John Abbott) is burning documents in a fireplace. Shenko is one of Russia’s pre-eminent philosophers and he is going to Tokyo on a lecture tour. Accompanying him are two burly KGB agents, who just so happen to be the countries judo and pistol shooting champions.

Professor Shenko wants to defect to the West, but his KGB minders will stop any attempt he makes. That’s were Kelly Robinson and Alexander Scott come in. They have to work out a plan to snatch tehe Professor.

Mr. Sommer (Philip Ober), an ex-pat American who lives in Tokyo agrees to help. He is a widower with a young daughter named Lin (Lisa Jager). Robinson and Scott use Sommer’s home as a base, and later, a place to hide the Professor, off the beaten path.

Robinson and Scott want to attempt the snatch at the Hotel Savoy where Shenko is staying. To get the penthouse suite next door to Shenko, Scott poses as the Ambassador of an African nation. Once in the suite, our two intrepid heroes waste little time and quickly have the Professor in their custody. They take him back to Sommer’s home, which is just an intermediate step before smuggling the Professor out on a freighter. But things go awry.

The Russian’s find out where Shenko is being held and in retaliation, they kidnap Sommer’s daughter Lin. Representing the Russians is a shady businessman, Gordon Merritt (Roger C. Carmel). He is the go-between. His job is to arrange the exchange of Lyn for the Professor.

Now Robinson and Scott have their work cut out for them, trying to find a way to get Lin back safely, while still holding on to the Professor. But the Russian’s have one weak link. Their choice of ‘go-between’. Merritt likes to drink, so Robinson and Scott ply him with liquor.

I, Spy was always a well produced show with (on occasions) actual location footage. This episode is one of the many fine stories, that this show dished out over it’s three seasons (from 1965-68).

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