Picks and Pans Review: I Spy Returns

updated 02/07/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/07/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

CBS (Thurs., Feb. 3, 8 p.m. ET)

C

Bill Cosby and Robert Culp return as Scotty and Kelly, the glib globetrotting secret agents of I Spy, a popular series that ran from 1965-68 on NBC. To put this in perspective, imagine if Freddie & the Dreamers, a pop music group from the same era, decided to go out on tour again. Might be fun for a while as a curiosity, but the old songs and antics would soon grow tiresome.

In this senescent sequel, Cosby is now a college professor of Romance languages and Culp has been promoted to a director of the covert agency they worked for. After 25 years, the two are reunited in Vienna to keep an eye on a couple of rookie agents (Salli Richardson and George Newburn) who just happen to be their kids.

The wheezy, second-generation espionage movie tries to resurrect the old formula: cloak-and-dagger delivered with a nudge and a wink. But the Cosby-Culp badinage seems unbecomingly childish, their loosey-goosey adventures merely fatuous. The final insult is the tinny, synthesized rearrangement of Earle Hagen's once exciting theme music.

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