13. Tigers of Heaven
Kelly and Scotty are ordered to destroy the Tigers of Heaven, a neo-fascist group that has targeted the head of an old and distinguished Japanese family.
French title: Les tigres de l’enfer
Italian title: Fuochi d'artificio
Miiko Taka (Yoshino Tosuko), Teru Shimada (Mr. Okura), George Matsui (Koz), Soon Tek Oh (Kabuki), Grant Sullivan (Col. John Allen), Kay Reynolds (Woman, Maureen Arthur (Miss Merriweather), Yuki Shimodo (Ishikura), George Takei (Ito), David Friedkin (Marine Lieutenant), Hiroshi Mismi (Toshio)
Morton Fine & David Friedkin
15 December 1965
Currently available on DVD
A good example of how I SPY utilized then-current events as a basis for an episode. In the '50s and '60s, one of the leading issues of the day in Japan was the rise of neo-fascist (or neo-imperialist or neo-militarist, take your pick) groups that wanted to recapture Japan's greatness and who were (usually) stridently anti-American. The Tigers of Heaven are just such a group; mostly young men who live by the code of bushido, and whose target is Okura, the head of an old and powerful Japanese family who represents pro-American, anti-militarist Japan. Several attempts are made on Okura's life, including a land mine planted in a tennis court that kills Col. Allen, the team's contact. Kelly and Scotty pursue a lead that takes them into the world of the geisha, only to discover that it is Okura's son who is head of the Tigers. In the end, he and Kelly settle matters at swordpoint, and the Tigers are disbanded.
Filmed in Japan, this episode features some nice shots of Tokyo's neon-drenched nightlife, and the scenes with the geishas explore that unique cultural phenomenon fairly well. Look for George Takei, who would go on to play Lt. Sulu in Star Trek, in a minor role as a member of the Tigers, as well as writer/producer David Friedkin in a cameo role as a Marine lieutenant questioned by Kelly and Scotty in their search for the elusive geisha named Yoshina. Goofs are minor -- a top-seeded tennis player like Kelly Robinson commits a grievous foot fault on his first service during a game on the boobytrapped court, and his form in the Japanese martial art of kendo leaves something to be desired. All in all, though, this is a solid entry.