Sunday, April 27, 2014

W is for : The Wild, Wild, West!!!

(Due to some time constraints, yesterday, I pushed my "off day" forward taking Saturday as my day of rest instead of today.)

Little did the world know, but back in the 1880s, they faced all manner of odd and, sometimes, supernatural threat. The reason they never knew was due to the efforts of two Secret Service agent.....James West and his partner, Artemis Gordon.

That, ladies and gentlemen, was the Wild, Wild, West!

It ran on CBS from 1965 to 1969, during the Cold War/James Bond heyday. In fact, creator Michael Garrison pitched it as "James Bond on horseback".

True to the pitch, the show had almost every spy genre convention there was. Cool gadgets, pretty women, maniacal villains, doomsday devices, and deathtraps. Almost every episode was guaranteed at least one thing from each of those categories.

The show starred Robert Conrad as James T. West, fearless man of action and wearer of too tight pants, and Ross Martin as Artemis Gordon, brilliant inventor and master of disguise. They traveled the
country in a souped up train, called The Wanderer, and did the work no other agents could get done.  The two were the top Secret Service agents of the time, reporting directly to President Ulysses S. Grant and in charge of not only his safety, but the safety of the free world.

Who were they protecting the world from? Why such evil masterminds as Dr. Miguelito Loveless (played by the amazing Michael Dunn) and his cohort Voltaire (Richard "Jaws" Keil), Count Manzeppi (Victor Buono), and Emma Valentine (Agnes Moorehead) to name just a few. The show was a stopping off point for many guest stars....from Sammy Davis Jr., to Alan (The Skipper) Hale Jr., to Richard Pryor, to Boris Karloff. During the last season, Ross Martin broke his leg and, as he healed, the producers brought in other "partners" for West, but they just never had the same sort of chemistry as the West/Gordon combo. Speaking of lack of chemistry, we won't even discuss the fiasco that was the Wild, Wild, West movie starring Wil Smith and Kevin Cline. We won't discuss it because it NEVER HAPPENED! Do you understand? There was NO SUCH THING!


This has always been a favorite show of mine and was "steampunk", even before there was such a thing. Many of the gadgets were a bit anachronistic, but still very cool and a lot of fun.

Growing up, I used to play Wild, Wild, West with a friend of mine where I was (of course) James West and she was Artemis Gordon. We made our own "spy kits" and would go to them before our "missions". I had the little 'derringer up the sleeve' as West did and she would use Silly Putty to make different noses and such, a la Artemis Gordon's disguises. It was a lot of fun and the show really fueled our imaginations.

Hey, don't was before computers and the internet :P

Anyway, this show has always been one that I can watch over and over again and often do since I got them on DVD. God Bless DVDs!!

Honorable Mentions: WKRP in Cincinnati, Wonder Woman (a super strong contender for top spot), The White Shadow.

Tune in tomorrow for....o.k, I won't even make you guess....there weren't too many shows starting with "X" anyway.....The X-Files.


Andrew Leon said...

Yep, that was a great show.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That was an awesome show! I grew up on it. The movie version was such an insult.

Jeremy [Retro] said...

always a fan of this show, never really understood it until much later in life... it was just an even cooler show and sadly i enjoyed the film version too.

Robin said...

This was a favorite of my dad, so it got a lot of airplay in our living room. My favorite parts were the disguises by Gordon. And Robert Conrad was a hottie in any decade. I always liked how they went to commercial by putting up multiple scenes in each corner with the dynamic, action music. Great show!!!

Lisa said...

LOVED this show and watched it whenever I could. I get that we want to "update" things from time to time, but this storyline didn't benefit from the movie. It was a good movie, I agree, but only if one didn't make comparisons with the show! Mark, has anyone else said this color scheme is VERY hard to read, the light gray on the gold? Can you change it so I can come back and read all of it? Sorry if I'm the only one having a hard time with it!

Lisa said...

Finally got to read the whole thing. My internet connection is funky today. I remember an episode when they had to save someone or the train or something by unloading a case of nitro glycerin before the bad guys could use it... and I always felt cool when other shows used NG afterwards, because I was "in the know" about nitro! Yeah, I was a kid!

Calli D said...

I'm going to give away my age a bit here and sheepishly admit I didn't know that the horrible movie that shall not be named was based on a television show from the 50s. And now I will forever look at said film with even more disgust. I can't believe the number of big names that appeared in this television series, truly impressive!

Leslie S. Rose said...

More great memories. The TV show, not the movie.

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