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

Thursday, December 12, 2013

THE WILD, WILD WEST Season Four

Jo Van Fleet and Robert Conrad in the final episode
















THE WILD, WILD WEST Season Four. 1968. CBS.

While there were less outstanding episodes in The Wild, Wild West's last season than in previous years, it remained an entertaining, generally well-made and well-acted program until the end. During Ross Martin's illness, Charles Aidman filled in for Artemis Gordon as "Jeremy Pike" in several episodes. [William Schallert filled in as "Frank Harper" in one two-part episode.] There was a suspenseful scene in a vault in the first episode, "Night of the Big Blackmail," with Harvey Korman; a mechanical squid and an underwater HQ in "Kraken;" a giant tuning fork sonics weapon in "Avaricious Actuary;" a certain song that holds the key to which secret service agent might be a traitor in "the Janus;" an obnoxious opera singer (Patrice Munsel) in the unusual episode "Night of the Diva;" a tank used to tear homesteaders' dwellings apart in "Juggernaut;" a vial of deadly plague in "Gruesome Games;" and a deadly new explosive in "Doomsday Formula" with Kevin McCarthy. Dr. Loveless (Michael Dunn) plays dummy to a robot ventriloquist and kidnaps several people in ways related to a nursery rhyme in "Miquelito's Revenge;" and "Bleak Island," concerning skulduggery in a spooky old house on a cliff, features fine performances from John Williams, Beverly Garland and, especially, Robert H. Herron. The two best episodes were "The Sedgwick Curse," in which people disappear without a trace from a sinister hotel; and the very last episode of the series, the slightly sexist "Night of the Tycoons," in which Jo Van Fleet expertly plays the sole female member of a board of directors who are being killed off one by one. Robert Conrad and Ross Martin still seem to be having fun, and Aidman and Schallert make admirable and likable fill-ins.

Verdict: Nice wind-up to an unusual and entertaining TV series. ***.

2 comments:

angelman66 said...

Used to love this series - would stay up late at night to watch the reruns as a kid. I forgot all the big stars who used to do guest appearances!

My favorite character was always the diminutive Michael Dunn. I think he passed away before the series ended.

William said...

I think he did, and he was sorely missed in the reunion movies when he was replaced by a "son" played by an actor whose name I forget. Anyway, Dunn was superlative.

Many thanks for your comments! Best, Bill