Wednesday, July 5, 2006

The Wild, Wild West

I was five when The Wild, Wild West debuted on CBS in 1965, and never watched it. My wife, who was a much more worldly seven then, remembers it as one of her favourite shows.

The first season (of four, and the only one in black and white) is just out on DVD, and we bought and watched the first episode tonight. Pacing was very slow by modern standards, but the whole thing was quite stylish. It was great seeing so many of my favourite character actors as guest stars: James Gregory (Dr. Tristan Adams from Star Trek's "Dagger of the Mind"); Nehemiah Persoff (endless character roles on everything from The Time Tunnel and The Six Million Dollar Man to The Facts of Life); Victor Buono (Batman's King Tut); and Suzanne Pleshette (Emily on the old Bob Newhart Show).

Of course, as a sign of the times, Persoff -- born in Jerusalem -- plays a Mexican, and Buono -- a white guy -- plays a Chinese. Although, in fairness -- and intriguingly presaging Buono's role as a mutant in Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the episode ends with him pulling off a face mask to reveal ... that he's Hispanic!

Speaking of Beneath the Planet of the Apes, five years later Gregory and Buono would appear together in that film, the former as gorilla general Ursus, the latter as -- and, yes, this is the character's official name -- "Fat Man." However, they probably never even met when doing Wild, Wild West, since they had no scenes together (Gregory -- also known as Inspector Luger from Barney Miller -- has a scenery-chomping bit as Ulysses S. Grant at the beginning of the episode).

Anyway, it was thoroughly enjoyable, and I'm looking forward to watching more episodes. The next one has guest stars BarBara Luna (Captain's Woman Marlena Moreau from Trek's "Mirror, Mirror"), and J.D. Cannon (chief of detectives Peter B. Clifford from McCloud, one of my favourite series from the 1970s).

And of course, it's interesting knowing that we're seeing these digitally remastered episodes on our 50" TV looking much better than anyone saw them when they first aired 41 years ago ...


At July 05, 2006 11:57 PM , Blogger Jude said...

I loved "The Wild Wild West" with my favorite character being Dr. Loveless, played by Michael Dunn. My favorite scenes with him were when he sang duets because Michael Dunn had a beautiful voice. When you get to the Dr. Loveless episodes, you'll recognize Michael Dunn as also having been in a Star Trek episode. He was an amazing actor. The series had a lot of science fiction in it, great buddy interaction, wonderful fight scenes (watch Jim West take on the universe each week and win against overwhelming odds), and lots of fun.

At July 06, 2006 12:27 AM , Blogger E.Jim Shannon said...

I like the DVD promo "Before there was Bond there was West." I think The first Bond film came out the following year WWW was originally aired. As for the WWW movie with Will Smith out a few years ago, I refuse to watch it. Nothing against Will Smith but I hate remakes of classic shows what with all this "politically correctness" and all. They just ruined the new Battlestar Galactica series and those weird camera angles make me feel like I'm in the middle of a first person video game shooter. I was 15 when WWW came out and I loved the series as well. Great stuff.

At July 06, 2006 7:20 AM , Blogger Lou_Sytsma said...

Wow! Its hard to believe you missed this series Rob! It as part of the herd of shows I watched growing up - you know Time Tunnel, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Land of the Giants etc.

I didn't realize it was out on DVD though.

At July 13, 2006 11:59 AM , Anonymous Walter Hunt said...

Oh yes - I bought it for L's birthday. We've watched eight episodes so far. We used to play that stuff when we were kids (I always wanted to be Arte - he was smarter and had better toys, even if he didn't always get the girl.)

There's a superb episode guidebook which we've owned for years, waiting for the DVDs to arrive.

Another DVD for your great collection, Rob!


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