This series passes with flying colors the most difficult of all challenges -- the test of time! This landmark program holds up very well in 2009, it is still a thinking person's show with stimulating nuances and humor. Granted, some of the themes may be dated as they're Cold War subjects but nevertheless the plots are still mostly relevant.
There is no doubt that this was the first of the "buddy" series and movies. Robert Culp and Bill Cosby were perfect partners and they were brilliantly cast. At the time Cosby was an upstart comedian and despite NBC's objections series producer Sheldon Leonard insisted on casting Bill Cosby as Alexander Scott, a bold move not only because of Cos' newbie factor but also because Bill being Black portraying an intelligent, positive, government agent was unprecedented in TV history.
Another seminal factor of this series was the budget required to film in locations around the world as well as its ample use of minority actors and extras including several prominent guest stars from the jazz world like Nancy Wilson and Eartha Kitt. I was 13, 14 and 15 years old during the series' initial run yet I Spy was my favorite program. Now over 40 years later as I watch the episodes in chronicle order again, I am amazed how sophisticated the show remains. Using a word introduced to the world by Bill Cosby in this series, the "wonderfulness" of I Spy shines as brightly now as it did in the mid-1960s.