Sunday, December 9, 2007

wild wild west

The Wild Wild West
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For the 1999 film, see Wild Wild West.
For other uses, see The Wild, Wild West (disambiguation).

The Wild Wild West 1990s VHS release. Pictured: Robert Conrad (top) and Ross Martin.The Wild Wild West was an American television series that ran on CBS for four seasons (104 episodes) from September 17, 1965, to April 4, 1969. Developed at a time when the television western was losing ground to the spy genre, this show was conceived by its creator, Michael Garrison, as "James Bond on horseback." It was one of the first television series which could be described as a science fiction Western. 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.

1 Background
2 Props
3 The train
4 Theme music and cartoon
5 TV-movies
6 In other media
7 Motion picture
8 Dates
9 See also
10 Footnotes
11 References
12 External links

[edit] Background
The show's creator, Michael Garrison, was no late-comer to the James Bond craze; he and his partner at the time, Gregory Ratoff, purchased the film rights to Ian Fleming's first Bond novel, Casino Royale, back in 1955. They pitched the idea to 20th Century Fox, but the studio turned them down. After Ratoff died in 1960, his widow and Garrison sold the film rights to Charles K. Feldman, who eventually produced the spoof Casino Royale in 1967. Garrison, meanwhile, had brought James Bond to television in a unique way.

The Wild Wild West told the story of 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. Their unending mission was to protect President Ulysses S. Grant and the United States from all manner of dangerous threats. The agents traveled in luxury aboard their own train equipped with everything from a stable car to a laboratory.

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.

Each episode's title begins with "The Night" (except for the first-season episode "Night of the Casual Killer", which omitted the definite article). Shows with similar naming conventions include: Friends ("The One ..."); The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ("The ... Affair"); The Rat Patrol ("The ... Raid"); Rawhide (seasons 1–3 and 5–6: "Incident ..."); and Scrubs ("My ...").

The one 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. Loveless was introduced in the show's sixth produced, but third televised episode, "The Night the Wizard Shook The Earth," and appeared in another nine episodes. Initially he had two constant companions, the huge Voltaire, played by Richard Kiel, and the beautiful, Antoinette. This role was performed by Dunn's real-life singing partner, Phoebe Dorin. Voltaire disappeared with no explanation after the third battle against Loveless, while Antoinette was not seen after the sixth one. According to The Wild Wild West Revisited TV movie, Loveless eventually dies in 1880 from ulcers, brought on by anger and frustration at having his plans consistently ruined by West and Gordon. (His son, played by Paul Williams, subsequently seeks revenge on the agents).

Though several actors appeared in multiple villainous roles, only one other character had a second encounter with West and Gordon, Count Manzeppi, played flamboyantly by Victor Buono.

While the show's writers created their fair share of villains (Agnes Moorehead won an Emmy for her role as Emma Valentine in "The Night of The Vicious Valentine"), they frequently started with the nefarious, stylized inventions of these madmen and then wrote the episodes around these devices. Stories were also inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, H. G. Wells, and Jules Verne.

As indicated by Robert Conrad on his DVD commentary for the first season, the show went through several changes in producers in its early weeks of production. This was apparently due to conflicts between the network and Michael Garrison, who had also produced the pilot. Collier Young produced episodes 2-4; Fred Freiberger episodes 5-14; John Mantley episodes 15-21; and Gene L. Coon episodes 22-26. Garrison then returned to the show in time to produce the last two episodes of season one. In August 1967, early during production of the second season, however, Garrison fell down a staircase in his home and died. CBS brought in Bruce Lansbury, head of programming in New York (and brother of actress Angela Lansbury), to produce the show for the remainder of its run.

There was also a cast change made in the first season: the three episodes produced by Collier Young featured a butler named Tennyson who traveled with West and Gordon; this character was dropped after the fourth produced episode, though due to the episodes not being broadcast in production order, the character was seen in an off-and-on fashion.

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: according to Susan Kesler's book (see below), CBS bowed under pressure from watchdog groups and cancelled the show. However, the network re-ran several episodes in the summer of 1970 before the program moved into syndication and new life on local stations across the country. In 1994, it was broadcast on cable channel TNT. The channel usually preferred the color episodes, however, rather than the black and white shows.

Robert Conrad and a stock company of stunt players choreographed at least two fight sequences per episode. Conrad also insisted on performing all of his own stunts, such as leaping off a 2nd-floor balcony or running in front of a team of horses. During the filming of one episode, "The Night of the Fugitives," Conrad fell 12 feet from a chandelier onto a concrete floor and suffered a concussion. [1] Production of the series, then near the end of its third season, was shut down two weeks early. (The episode eventually aired during the fourth season, with footage of the fall left in.) Ross Martin broke his leg in a fourth season episode, "The Night of the Avaricious Actuary," and suffered a heart attack a few weeks later after completing "The Night of Fire and Brimstone." His character was replaced temporarily by other agents played by Charles Aidman (four episodes), Alan Hale, Jr. and William Schallert. Aidman said that the script rewrites he had been promised amounted to changing the name "Artemus Gordon" to "Jeremy Pike" (his character's name)[1]. Pat Paulsen is frequently thought of as a Martin substitute, but he in fact appeared in one of Aidman's episodes, and his character would have been present even if Martin had not been absent.

Ross Martin once called his role as Artemus Gordon "a show-off's showcase" because it allowed him to portray over 100 different characters during the course of the series, and perform dozens of different dialects. Martin sketched his ideas for his characterizations and worked with the make-up artists to execute the final look. Martin was nominated for an Emmy in 1969.

[edit] Props
The Wild Wild West featured numerous gadgets. Some were recurring devices, such as James' sleeve gun or breakaway derringer hidden in his left and right boot heels. Others only appeared in a single episode.

Sleeve gun (a Remington derringer, featured in many episodes). In a few episodes the ejecting/retractable support-arm of the device had other useful gadgets attached to it instead of the derringer (i.e. a tiny squirt-can containing acid, iron climbing-claws, various blades, etc.)
Lock-pick in the lapel of the bolero-style jacket.
Throwing knife in the collar of the jacket.
Various explosive devices fitted in the lining of his jacket, inside his belt (and its buckle), and a secret compartment in his holster.
A flat metal barbed climbing-spike and a thin, but strong attachable rope or cord that could be shot into a wooden beam or wall from either his deringer or revolver.
A small hand-held rod with a built-in spring-loaded motor-driven winch. When used in conjunction with his climbing-spike and rope, the rod-winch can either hoist him upwards to a building's roof, for instance, or lower him into a deep pit, the distance depending on the length of rope deployed.
An ejecting knife-blade in his boot, just between the outer sole and toe-box of the boot.
Extra bullets in his belt buckle.
A thin, but extremely strong wire flexible enough to be coiled and fitted in the inner lining of the crown of his hat; the wire has multiple uses, and is also capable of sawing through a steel bar.
Breakaway derringer (featured in numerous episodes)
Exploding pool ball (featured in pilot episode)
Cue stick that has a hidden sword inside (featured in pilot episode)
Cue stick that has a hidden gun inside (featured in pilot episode)
Stage coach with ejection seat (featured in "The Night the Wizard Shook the Earth")
A ball of explosive in the hollow heel of one boot, and the hem of his jacket is pulled away to form the fuse.
A break-away blow-torch, hidden in each boot heel.
Two pistols on a wooden stand on desk-activated by a knob on the fireplace.
The fireplace also conceals a secret escape door and an emergency flare signal
Several pistols, a few rifles, and other assorted weaponry hidden behind a wall-panel behind the map at one end of the railway car.
A shotgun hidden under a revolving table-top.
The Juggernaught, a steam-powered tank that was triangular in shape, and had a barbed tip.
A telegraph in his cane
A cigar blow torch

[edit] The train
For the pilot episode, "The Night of the Inferno," the producers used Sierra Railroad No. 3, a 4-6-0 locomotive that was, fittingly, an anachronism: it wasn't built until 1891. Footage of this train, with a 5 replacing the 3 on its number plate, was shot in Jamestown, California. Best known for its role as the Hooterville Cannonball in the CBS series Petticoat Junction, Sierra No. 3 probably appeared in more films and TV shows than any other locomotive in history. It was built by the Rogers Locomotive and Machine Works in Paterson, New Jersey.

When The Wild Wild West went into series production, however, an entirely different train was employed. The locomotive, a 4-4-0 named the Inyo, was built in 1875 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia. Originally a wood-burner, the Inyo was converted to oil in 1910. The Inyo, as well as the express car and the passenger car, originally served on the Virginia and Truckee Railroad in Nevada. They were among several V&T cars sold to Paramount Pictures in 1937-8. The Inyo appears in numerous films, including High, Wide, and Handsome (1938), Union Pacific (1939), The Marx Brothers' Go West (1940), Meet Me in St. Louis, (1944), Red River (1948), Disney's The Great Locomotive Chase (1956) and McLintock! (1963). For The Wild Wild West, Inyo's original number plate was temporarily changed from No. 22 to No. 8 so that footage of the train could be flipped left or right without the number appearing reversed. Footage of the Inyo was shot around Menifee, Calif., and re-used countless times during the run of the show. (Stock footage of Sierra No. 3 occasionally resurfaced as well!)

These trains were used only for exterior shots. The luxurious interior of the passenger car was constructed on Stage 6 at CBS Studio Center. (Neither Stage 6 or any of the western streets still exist.) Designed by art director Albert Heschong, the set reportedly cost $35,000 in 1965.

The interior of West and Gordon's train was used in an episode of Gunsmoke titled "Death Train" (aired 1/27/67).

After her run on The Wild Wild West, the Inyo participated in the Golden Spike Centennial at Promontory, Utah, in 1969. The following year it appeared as a replica of the Central Pacific's "Jupiter" locomotive at the Golden Spike National Historical Site.. The State of Nevada purchased the Inyo in 1974; it was restored to 1895 vintage, including a wider smoke stack and new a pilot (cow catcher) without a drop coupler. The Inyo is still operational and currently displayed at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City. The express car (No. 21) and passenger car (No. 4) are also at the museum.

Another veteran V&T locomotive, the Reno (built in 1872 by Baldwin), was used in the two Wild Wild West TV movies and in the 1999 theatrical film starring Will Smith. The Reno is located at Old Tucson Studios.

[edit] Theme music and cartoon
The main title theme was written by Richard Markowitz, who was brought in after the producers rejected two attempts by famed film composer Dimitri Tiomkin. However, Markowitz was never credited for his theme on any episode of the series (although he did receive "music by" credit for episodes he'd scored or where he supplied the majority of tracked-in cues); it is generally believed that this was due to legal difficulties between CBS and Tiomkin over the rejection of the latter's work. Markowitz had previously composed the theme to the TV series "The Rebel."

The cartoon teaser for the opening credits was another unique element of the series. The screen was divided into five panels, the center containing a cartoon "hero" who interacted with characters in the surrounding panels. The cartoon Hero actually bears more of a resemblance to Clint Eastwood in Rawhide or James Arness in Gunsmoke than Conrad or Martin, and the vignettes in the teaser reflect Western movie cliches rather than the fanciful situations typical of The Wild Wild West.

The original sequence is as follows:

Hero strikes match, lights a cigarette and begins walking in profile
Behind the Hero, in the lower left panel, a robber backs out of a bank; the Hero subdues him with a karate chop
In the upper right panel, a cardsharp tries to pull an ace from his boot; the Hero draws his gun and the cardsharp drops his card
In the upper left panel, a gunman points a six shooter at the Hero, who puts his hands up. Hero then shoots the gunman with his sleeve derringer; gunman's hand falls limp
A woman in the lower right panel taps Hero with her parasol. He pulls her close and kisses her. She is about to stab him but turns away and slumps against the side of the frame, still holding the knife, mesmerized by his kiss. He tips his hat and walks away from camera. This final vignette changed when the series changed to color: the Hero knocks her out with a right cross to the jaw! [Note: This variant can be seen in the original pilot version of the opening credits (included on the DVD release) when the series was under the title The Wild West.] Despite the new version, James West never hit a woman in any episode, although he grappled with some. The original animation, with the Hero winning the woman over with a kiss, was a more accurate representation of West's methods than the right cross. Ironically, it is another example of the emphasis of violence of the show.
The camera then zooms into the middle panel and the title The Wild Wild West appears. Camera swish pans to an illustration of the train, with Conrad's and Martin's names on the ends of different cars.
The four panels were then utilized for the commercial breaks. Each episode was divided into four acts. At the end of each act, the scene (usually a cliffhanger moment) would freeze and a sketch of the scene would replace one of the panels. (The commercial break freeze frames usually didn't follow in the same order as the main title; they only do so in four episodes - "The Night of the Two-Legged Buffalo," "The Night of the Man-Eating House," "The Night of the Deadly Blossom," and "The Night of the Winged Terror, Part 2.") This art was changed slightly over the course of the series; in all first season episodes other than the pilot, the panels of the freeze-frames were live-action stills made to evoke 19th Century engravings. In season two (the first in color) the scenes initially dissolved to tinted stills; from "The Night of the Flying Pie Plate" on, however, the panels were home to Warhol-like serigraphs of the freeze-frames. The end credits were displayed over each episode's mosaic in every season but the last, when it was replaced by a standardized design.

The pilot episode, "The Night of the Inferno", is the only episode in which the panel with the Hero is replaced by a sketch of the final scene of an act — in the third act, he is replaced by the villainous General Cassinello (Nehemiah Persoff).

[edit] TV-movies
Conrad and Martin reunited for two TV-movies, The Wild Wild West Revisited (aired May 9, 1979) and More Wild Wild West (aired October 7-8, 1980).

[edit] In other media

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 paperback novel, Richard Wormser's The Wild Wild West, published in 1966 by Signet (ISBN 0-451-02836-8) and adapting the episode "The Night Of the Double-Edged Knife".

In 1988, Arnett Press published The Wild Wild West: The Series by Susan E. Kesler (ISBN 0-929360-00-1)

In 1990, Millennium Publications produced a four-part comic book series ("The Night Of The Iron Tyrants") scripted by Mark Ellis with art by Darryl Banks. A sequel to the TV series, it involved Dr. Loveless in a conspiracy that affected the presidential election of Rutherford B. Hayes. Despite their early respective departures from the villain's side in the original program, Voltaire and Antoinette were prominent here.

In 1998, Berkeley Books published three novels by author Robert Vaughan - The Wild Wild West (ISBN 0-425-16372-5), The Night of the Death Train (ISBN 0-425-16449-7), and The Night of the Assassin (ISBN 0-425-16517-5).

The first season of The Wild Wild West was released to DVD in North America on June 6, 2006, as a special 40th anniversary edition. For the first season set, Robert Conrad recorded special audio introductions for all 28 episodes and the set also included interviews and 1970s era footage of Conrad and Martin being interviewed. The second season was released on March 20, 2007 but the set contained no special features. The third season was released on November 20, 2007. In France, all four seasons of the show (known locally as Les Mystères de l'Ouest) have already been released in a DVD boxed set.

A new fan made Wild Wild West series is being developed by the creators of Star Trek: New Voyages

[edit] Motion picture
Main article: Wild Wild West
In 1999, a theatrical motion picture loosely based on the series was released. The film, Wild Wild West (without the definite article used in the series title) made several substantial changes to the characters of the series, reimagining James West as an African-American (played by Will Smith), almost completely ignoring the racial issues that certainly would have made it difficult, if not impossible, for a black man to be a United States secret service agent in the late 1800s. (However, at the end of the TV episode "The Night of the Returning Dead," West and Gordon invite an African-American played by guest star Sammy Davis Jr. to join the department.) Significant changes were made to Dr. Loveless (played by Kenneth Brannagh in the film). He went from a dwarf (TV) to a man without legs (film); his name was also changed to Arliss Loveless. Kevin Kline plays Gordon, whose character was similar to the version played by Ross Martin, except that he was bitterly competitive with James West, and much more egotistical. The film script had Kline's Gordon invent more ridiculous, humor-related, and implausible contraptions than those created by Martin's Gordon in the television series.

The film also depicted West and Gordon as competitive rivals (almost to the point of a mutual dislike and distrust of one another), whereas in the television series, West and Gordon had a very close friendship and and trusted each other with their lives.

[edit] Dates
The series is set during the presidency of Ulysses Grant, 1869-77; occasional episodes indicate a more precise date.

"The Night of the Glowing Corpse" is set during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1.
"The Night of the Eccentrics" takes place four years after the assassination of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, placing the episode in 1871.
In "The Night that Terror Stalked the Town", Loveless has a headstone prepared for West, showing his birthdate as July 2, 1842. If West's age during this episode was equal to Robert Conrad's age when it was first shown, the date would be March 22, 1873.
"The Night of the Whirring Death" opens with the caption San Francisco 1874.
In "The Night of the Flaming Ghost" Jim West says, "If the real John Brown had lived he'd be almost 75 years old by now," placing this episode not long before May 9, 1875.
In "The Night of the Brain" Artemus Gordon shows James West a paper dated July 12, 1872. West states, "July 12, that's an interesting date, but it happens to be tomorrow." Later they again get tomorrow's newspaper and we see the date: July 14, 1872.
In "The Night of the Arrow" President Grant reads a request from General Baldwin to be relieved from active duty on 6th of April, 1874 and comments that Various "The Music of the Wild West" (Varese Sarabande)
Saturday, December 08 2007 @ 05:07 PM EST
Contributed by: redtunictroll
Views: 16
These forty-five pieces were originally produced by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's John McEuen as a soundtrack for the like-named documentary series. The mosaic of 19th century American music includes homemade folk, western themes, Native American chants, brass bands, military bugle calls, and filmic orchestrations that reflect the immigrant-fed melting pot. The stories and legends of the songs' lyrics served as a keepsake for settlers as they ranged across the continent, and retain their potency as a conduit between yesteryear and today. Today's long-range nostalgia of "Home on the Range" was ever more immediate to explorers who'd just left their home range to venture into the wilds.

McEuen gathered country and cowboy musicians (including Marty Stuart, Gary Morris, Michael Martin Murphy and Rod Steagall) together with bands that specialize in recreating nineteenth-century American music. They weave together the musical and instrumental influences of America's immigrant forebears, intertwining Irish, German, Italian and gypsy sounds with uniquely American creations such as the Sousaphone and hammered dulcimer. The songs of the West were brash and adventurous in proclaiming freedom in a new home but leavened by a longing for places and loved-ones left behind.

Music was a central element of Western life, whether sung on a hand-hewn back porch, plucked trailside on guitar, performed in a town square, made bawdy in a saloon, or revved up to energize troops on the charge. American song of the nineteenth century encapsulated entertainment, tradition, news and faith; curiously, the soundtrack doesn't include any church songs. Still, this is an enterprising project that provides a unique, musical view of the American west. [©2007 redtunictroll at hotmail dot com]


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