5 May 1999 | urick
The night of the wild, wild James West : a modern cow-boy spy
"The wild wild west" is the most eccentric espionage series that blends the Ian Fleming's James Bond character, the western genre and the Jules Verne's fantasy world into a baroque and glamorous extravaganza. This show has a huge identity : the leitmotiv music and its different themes, the title design (the freeze frame sketch), the bizarre universe and the foe-characters (secret society, mad inventors, wizards, monsters, revolutionaries, corrupted politicians, putschists), the disguises and the gimmicks, the gorgeous women, a special sense of humour combined with camaraderie, action and stunts. In other words, something that is very, very rich, colourful and varied and far away from today's imagination. In my opinion, the most important aspect of this unusual drama comes from the characters : James T. West, the tough-as-nails dandiest dude secret agent with his fancy train and his fancy costumes full of hidden weapons (I like the knife boots and the sleeve-gun, re-used by Martin Scorsese in "Taxi driver") who works with his partner : the dashing Artemus Gordon aka Arte who is an expert in masks, bombs, magic tricks and acting; the president Grant and the Colonel Richmond. Above all, the regular outrageous villain that sums up the flavor of the series : Dr. Miguelito Loveless, the genius prankster dwarf. The most clever device created by him is the painting-traveling machine in The night of the surreal Mc Coy. Without forgetting the flamboyant Count Manzeppi, of course, in The night of the eccentrics and The night of the feathered fury. The whole show is a crazy circus : a madhouse. The series also makes reference to classic sci-fi novels such as : "The incredible shrinking man" in The night of the raven, "Frankenstein" in The night of the big blast, "The time machine" in The night of the lord of limbo. "The wild wild west" has a lot of similarities with "Mission : impossible". For instance : the characters of Artemus Gordon/Rollin Hand and James West/Jim Phelps. They have the same psychologic patterns. Producer Bruce Lansbury and composer Richard Markowitz worked on both series. But the first series is delirious and the second one is stone-cold. My advice is not to miss the Loveless episodes : 1.The night the wizard shook the earth, 2.The night that terror stalked the town, 3.The night of the whirring death, 4.The night of the murderous spring, 5.The night of the raven, 6.The night of the green terror, 7.The night of the surreal Mc Coy, 8.The night of the bogus bandit, 9.The night of Dr. Loveless died, 10.The night of the Miguelito's revenge. Another best and maverick show of the 60's decade.