The 60s TV series I Spy came from a time when many espionage-themed shows existed. It joined the ranks of shows such as Mission Impossible, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Get Smart. Fittingly enough, each of these properties have been remade as big budget movies, including I Spy. That 2002 remake featuring Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson was given a collective shrug by critics and audiences, but there is now movement for this old property in a new direction.
While we've seen the transition of a number of films into TV adaptations recently, such as Snatch and Get Shorty, there have been plenty of older television series that have gotten a modern update as well. Based on a report from Deadline today, it appears a new version of I Spy will be making its way back to the small screen.
As reported, House creator David Shore, director McG and Davis Entertainment (responsible for shows such as The Blacklist) are teaming up to produce a pilot loosely based on the original premise for I Spy. The pilot will air on Fox, much like the upcoming Lethal Weapon series, also headed by Davis Entertainment and McG. This new I Spy will once again feature a professional spy partnered up with a quick-witted civilian to solve high-stakes cases here and abroad. However, the series is said to be mostly based around the character dynamic of the original NBC series and not actually take on many of the same qualities, including the name of the series.
The original series debuted back in 1965 and starred Robert Culp and Bill Cosby. Cosby portrayed the spy, while Culp was a famous tennis player and trainer. The two went undercover around the world in an early form of TV buddy-comedy. Wilson portrayed the Cosby role in the remake, while Murphy was in the Culp part, updated to be a famous boxer. It mattered little, as the film was a box office bomb. While Fox already has Lethal Weapon, The Exorcist, 24: Legacy and the Prison Break making up its schedule, it appears the addition of another brand name is not beyond their interests.
A clear problem with remaking I Spy is the association with Cosby. As is very well-known at this point, the comedian has most certainly fallen from grace and a new series based on one closely linked to Cosby may be a tricky play for Fox. This explains the idea of shifting around the premise a bit and re-titling the series. At the same time, one has to wonder what the point of rebooting I Spy is in the first place, if everything about it is going to change and the show risks being connected to a very unpopular individual.
There must be some sort of legality involved in taking on a series from another studio that will have a similar premise to a once popular show that was already remade once, which could explain the link. Given the success that Shore and Davis Entertainment have had, ideally the tenuous link will just be overlooked, as long as an entertaining buddy-spy series comes out in the grand scheme of things. Audiences with any interest will just have to wait and see.
I Spy is currently in early development. Screen Rant will update as further development on the series ensues.