Log in

wildwildwest_65's Journal

The Wild Wild West
Posting Access:
All Members

"The Wild Wild West was an American TV show that ran on CBS for four seasons (104 episodes) from September 17, 1965 to September 7, 1970. Two television movies were made with the original cast in 1979 and 1980, and the series was adapted for a motion picture in 1999 with a new cast and story. It was one of the first television series which could be described as a science fiction Western.

The Wild Wild West told the story of the country's first two Secret Service agents—James West, the charming gunslinger (played by Robert Conrad), and Artemus Gordon (played by Ross Martin), the brilliant gadgeteer and master of disguise. (Martin suffered a heart attack during the final season, and his character was replaced by other agents played by Alan Hale, Jr., Charles Aidman and William Schallert.) Their unending mission was to protect President Ulysses S. Grant and the United States from all manner of dangerous threats.

The show incorporated classic Western elements with an espionage thriller, as well as science fiction/alternate history ideas (in a similar vein to steampunk) and plenty of comedy. In the finest James Bond tradition, there were always beautiful women, clever gadgets, and delusional arch-enemies with half-insane plots to take over the country or the world.

The most memorable recurring arch-villain was Dr. Miguelito Quixote Loveless, a brilliant-but-insane dwarf portrayed by Michael Dunn, who performed almost an identical function for West and Gordon as Professor Moriarty performed for Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson—the worthy adversary, whose plans could be foiled but who resisted all attempts to capture him and bring him to justice.

The show practiced an episode naming convention where every episode title begins with "The Night Of" (except for the first-season episode Night of the Casual Killer, which omitted the definite article). Similar naming conventions are found in other shows such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Friends.

The first season episodes were filmed in black and white, and were appropriately darker in their tonality. (Cinematographer Ted Voightlander was nominated for an Emmy for his work on these episodes.) Subsequent seasons were filmed in color and the show became noticeably campier. Still, some episodes could be astonishingly violent, and that ultimately was its downfall: CBS bowed under pressure from watchdog groups and cancelled the show.

Robert Conrad insisted on performing his own stunts, such as leaping onto a 2nd-floor balcony or running in front of a team of horses. He also insisted on doing all the love scenes with the various love interests, sometimes making the directors do 10 or more takes. Many of the actresses got suspicious of the multiple takes.

The two late-1970s TV movies, "The Wild Wild West Revisited" and "More Wild Wild West," reuniting Conrad and Martin, were successful enough that there was talk of a new series being commissioned, but the death of Ross Martin in 1981 put an end to these plans.

Covers of the 1990 Wild Wild West comic bookThe series spawned several merchandising spin-offs, including a seven-issue comic book series by Gold Key Comics and Richard Wormser's 1966 novel, adapted from the episode "The Night Of the Double-Edged Knife".

in 1988, Arnett Press published a comprehensive study of the series by Susan E. Kesler (ISBN 0929360001).

In 1990, Millennium Publications produced a four-part comic book series ("The Night Of The Iron Tyrants") scripted by Mark Ellis with art by Green Lantern artist Darryl Banks. A review at the Mile High Comics site praises it thusly: This mini-series perfectly captures the fun mixture of western and spy action that marked the ground-breaking 1960s TV series. The storyline of "The Night Of The Iron Tyrants" was optioned for feature film development.

In 1988, Berkeley Books published three novels by author Robert Vaughan - The Wild Wild West, The Night of the Death Train, and The Night of the Assassin.

On January 27, 2006, Paramount Home Entertainment announced the DVD release of the complete first season in North America on June 6, 2006 in a special 40th anniversary edition." ~ Wikipedia

"James West and Artemus Gordon are two agents of President Grant who take their splendidly appointed private train through the west to fight evil. Half science fiction and half western, the Artemus designs a series of interesting gadgets for James that would make Inspector Gadget proud. A light hearted adventure series." ~ IMDb