The Wild Wild West: The Second Season – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Creator:
Michael Garrison

Cast:
Robert Conrad….James T. West
Ross Martin….Artemus Gordon

Paramount Home Video presents The Wild Wild West: The Second Season. Twenty eight episodes on 7 DVDs. Season 2 aired from Sept. 16, 1966 to May 7, 1967. DVD released March 20, 2007.

The Show

If your only exposure to The Wild Wild West is the Will Smith movie that constantly runs on cable, you’re probably not aching to experience the original series. Pay a hypnotist to erase that wretched summer bloatbust from your cinematic memory. You need to view the show that brought the gadgets and superspy attitude of James Bond to the old West. James T. West and Artemus Gordon are Secret Service agents assigned by President Ulysses S. Grant to keep the country safe from diabolical madmen (and the occasional conniving woman). West is the romantic muscle, while Gordon creates espionage inventions and fantastic disguises. They roam around in a private train filled with secret compartments. They must protect a country still recovering from the Civil War.

This show made Westerns cool to people who couldn’t deal with another oater featuring Bruce Dern seeking revenge. For kids stuck with last year’s cowboy outfit, pretending to be James West was a way to improve your backyard fun. There was no need to wait for your men to free you from jail when explosives are hidden in your hollowed out boot heel. The hard rules of the old West were tossed aside as the fantasy elements took control in both child’s play and the show’s storylines. Gunsmoke never had to deal with a space ship landing in Dodge City and green alien females getting frisky with Festus.

The major change for the sophomore season was the show being filmed in color. The production took advantage of this chromatic upgrade in the costumes and production design – there’s a vibrancy with rich and bright colors all over the screen. Even though all the episodes have “The Night of” in the titles, a lot more of the action this season took place in daylight. Even the night scenes had a bit more illumination than the first season. There was no reason to go too black with the introduction of hues.

Despite all the gadgets and gizmos, the biggest special effect is Robert Conrad’s pants. While many scientists were figuring out how to put a man on the moon, a few of them were dedicated to finding the perfect fabric to accentuate Conrad’s back side. It looks like he wore gymnast tights instead of a pair of Levis. Decades before Jean-Claude Van Damme would arrive in America, Conrad’s butt would dominate the screen.

The highlight villain is Count Carlos Mario Vincenzo played by Victor Buono. You probably know him best as King Tut on Batman. On The Wild Wild West he’s a magician who wants to trick himself into power with his crew of henchmen recruited from sideshows. Also returning for a trio of episodes is Dr. Miguelito Loveless, a walking Napoleon complex. He has more plans to take over the world than The Brain. Actor Michael Dunn knew how imbibe Loveless with enough devious charm to make us almost want to see him beat West. We see a sweetness when Dr. Loveless duets with his assistant Antoinette (played by Phoebe Dorin). This man with destructive plans for Washington D.C. had the voice of an angel. On “Night of the Raven” they bust out their version of “Sloop John B.” A couple with such beautiful voices couldn’t be that evil?

The second season was high on the weirdness scale, but Conrad and Martin played it straight enough to make everything believable. Even when situations look absurd, they don’t become stupid. When Dr. Loveless disguises his crew as Robin Hood and his Merry Men, the deception makes sense when his scheme is revealed. This doesn’t turn into those freakish moments that dominatied the final season of Lost in Space. If you enjoyed the first season of The Wild Wild West, the second season keeps the locomotive-action chugging away. Conrad and Martin solidified themselves as a great crime-fighting tandem. They embrace the weirdness of the cases. West also embraces a woman or two during the hour. After all these years, watching these episodes should give you the urge to hollow out your boot heel for your secret gadgets.

The Episodes

“The Night of the Eccentrics” has Jim being taken captive by a gang of circus performers. Their plot is to kill the Mexican president. Victor Buno is the ringleader. Richard Pryor plays an evil ventriloquist (as if there was any other kind).

“The Night of the Golden Cobra” has Jim investigating strange things on an Indian reservation. He gets bit by a cobra and awakens in the Maharajah of Rampor’s palace. Horror legend Boris Karloff is Mr. Singh and Michael York (Cabaret is a henchman.

“The Night of the Raven” has an Indian princess kidnapped by Dr. Loveless. Jim’s rescue goes wrong when Loveless shrinks them.

“The Night of the Big Blast” has Dr. Faustina revive a corpse that’s been transformed to look like West. She plans on having her Frankenstein monster take out President Grant.

The Night of the Returning Dead has West investigate the ghost of a Confederate soldier. Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford guest star.

“The Night of the Flying Pie Plate” has West discover a UFO filled with green women.

“The Night of the Poisonous Posey” has West and Gordon go on vacation only to stumble upon a gathering of major criminals.

“The Night of the Bottomless Pit” has West go undercover as a prisoner to infiltrate Devil’s Island and spring an agent being held by an evil warden.

“The Night of the Watery Death” has West hunt down a dragon that’s been destroying ships.

“The Night of the Green Terror” has West discover Dr. Loveless is using a Robin Hood disguise to sway Indian tribes into following his evil plot.

“The Night of the Ready-Made Corpse” has a mortician that fakes the demise of known felons. Carroll O’Connor plays the scamming undertaker.

“The Night of the Man-Eating House” has West and Gordon spend the night in a haunted house.

“The Night of the Skulls” has West killing Gordon.

“The Night of the infernal Machine” has West pursuing an activist judge.

“The Night of the Lord of Limbo” has West travel in time to make sure the Confederates don’t win the Civil War. Ricardo Montalban (Fantasy Island) plays the magician.

“The Night of the Tottering Tontine” has West protecting an inventor from his homicidal investment group.

“The Night of the Feathered Fury” has West hunting a mechanical chicken. Victor Buono returns.

“The Night of the Gypsy Peril” has West recovering a kidnapped elephant.

“The Night of the Tartar” has West and Gordon think they’ve been abducted and imprisoned in Russia. John Astin (Addams Family plays a Russian count.

“The Night of the Vicious Valentine” has West discover an evil matchmaker that kills wealthy industrialists. Agnes Moorehead (Bewitched) plays Emma Valentine.

“The Night of the Brain” has West uncover a plot to replace the world leaders with impersonators.

“The Night of the Deadly Bubble” has West investigate killer tidal waves.

“The Night of the Surreal McCoy” has Dr. Loveless transporting famous killers out of paintings.

“The Night of the Colonel’s Ghost” has West discover a town terrorized by a killer that breaks necks.

“The Night of the Deadly Blossom” has West protecting a Hawaiian king.

“The Night of the Cadre” has West stopping a plot to put a mind control device in President Grant’s brain.

“The Night of the Wolf” has West guarding the coronation of King Stefan IX.

“The Night of the Bogus Bandits” has Dr. Loveless plotting to take over the country by putting his people into key government positions.

The DVD

VIDEO:
The picture is 1.33:1. The transfer does not betray the show’s age. It’s clean with only a rare speck. The image is sharp. The colors pop. The green alien women dazzle on this DVD.

AUDIO:
The English soundtrack is Dolby Digital Mono. The sound mix is at a good level. No really audible scratches or pops. Instead of subtitles, the episodes are closed captioned.

EXTRAS:
Nothing. While the first season boxset had Robert Conrad give audio introductions to the episodes, this collection is barebones.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for The Wild Wild West: The Second Season
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE SHOW

8
THE VIDEO

9
THE AUDIO

8
THE EXTRAS

0
REPLAY VALUE

8
OVERALL
8
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

The Inside Pulse
The Wild Wild West twisted the Western with the spy genre. This second season shows that even with the introduction of color, there’s no letdown. If you already own and enjoy the first season, you’ll want this on the shelf.