Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Ross Martin and Robert Conrad
THE WILD, WILD WEST Season two. 1966. CBS-television.

James West (Robert Conrad) and Artemis Gordon (Ross Martin) are back for a second [now in color] season of the post-Civil War spy series, The Wild, Wild West. Amidst a plethora of mediocre and plain silly episodes are some more notable stories, such as the exciting "Night of the Raven" with Dr. Loveless (Michael Dunn) and Phyllis Newman [better than you might imagine] as an  Indian princess. "Big Blast" guest-stars Ida Lupino as Dr. Faustino, who uses human bomb duplicates of Artie and Jim to try to blow up Congress! "Ready-Made Corpse" features Carroll O'Connor as a man who provides new faces for wanted criminals. "Man-Eating House" is a weird -- too weird -- but entertaining episode guest-starring Hurd Hatfield as an escaped jailbird in a creepy old haunted house. Dr. Loveless reappears in "Bogus Bandits" -- also guest-starring the inimitable Patsy Kelley -- staging bank robberies yet throwing away the money! The two most memorable episodes feature female antagonists: Delphi Lawrence makes an excellent Lucrece Posey, trying to form a criminal group of hit men in "Poisonous Posey"; and no less than Agnes Moorehead plays a murderous marriage broker in "Vicious Valentine," which probably has the most suspenseful climax of any season two episode. Another notable episode is "Tottering Tontine," in which members of a survivor-takes-all financial concern are wiped out one by one in a sinister old mansion by the sea. The Wild, Wild West was an imperfect series, but almost always entertaining in spite of it. The boys report to a portly colonel in many of the episodes, and President Grant himself appears in at least one story. Artie and Jim are always impeccably dressed in beautiful old-style suits with matching vests, and Conrad continues to wear the tightest pants on television -- for a 19th century secret service man no less! Other interesting guest-stars include Boris Karloff, Sammy Davis, Jr., Leslie Parrish, William Talman, Tom Drake, and Victor Buono. Click here to read about season one of the show.

Verdict: Still fun. ***.

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