The Wild Wild West: Season 1
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Relive the heroic adventures of 1870s Secret Service Agents and celebrate the 40th Anniversary of one of TVs most popular and imaginative series. THE WILD WILD WEST takes you on the most dangerous, top-secret assignments, given to TVs first 007s of the frontier. Fight alongside the ever-resourceful ladies man, Federal Agent James West (Robert Conrad) and his colorful sidekick Agent Artemus Gordon (Ross Martin). Crisscross the country in a high tech railroad car, executing impossible missions assigned to them directly from President Grant. These professional troubleshooters risk life and limb to protect the security of the United States by unraveling wicked schemes devised by an array of criminal masterminds.
CBS had an instant hit on their hands when The Wild Wild West made its network debut on September 17, 1965. While many of the popular TV Westerns were running out of steam, series creator Michael Garrison ripped a page from the Ian Fleming/Sean Connery playbook and conceived The Wild Wild West as a "James Bond Western," energizing the genre by combining a traditional Western setting (primarily the San Francisco region in the 1870s) with the accoutrements of the spy genre. It was a foolproof formula, further refined by producer Fred Frieberger (who later produced the third and final season of Star Trek), and TWWW held its popular time-slot (7:30-8:30 on Friday nights) for its entire four-season run. Smart casting proved to be another source of audience appeal: While Robert Conrad fit nicely into his role (and tight-fitting costume) as macho Secret Service agent James West, doing his own challenging stunts and charming each episode's obligatory beautiful female guest star, Ross Martin proved an equally excellent choice to play West's skillful sidekick Artemus Gordon, a debonair dandy whose mastery of disguises and dialects would prove essential as they tackled dangerous crime-fighting assignments from President Ulysses S. Grant.
The series' unique appeal arose from its clever and frequently bizarre plots. Every episode title began with a variation of "The Night of..." (including the pilot, "The Night of the Inferno," with more unusual titles thereafter), and as Jim and Arte plotted strategies from the comfort of their tricked-out custom railroad car, their exploits frequently led them into realms of the occult, mad science, bizarre inventions, and villains so eccentrically twisted that they became instant favorites among the show's growing legion of fans. Best of them all was the nefarious Miguelito Loveless, first appearing in "The Night the Wizard Shook the Earth" (original airdate 10/01/65) and played to perfection by dwarf actor Michael Dunn, a '60s TV regular familiar to Star Trek fans from his memorable role in the original series episode "Plato's Stepchildren." A gifted, intellectual renaissance man (like Ross Martin) with an angelic singing voice, Dunn was an overnight sensation, guest-starring in four of the first season's 28 episodes, with six more appearances in subsequent seasons. Dunn's gleeful malevolence (accompanied by his mute henchman Voltaire, played by giant actor Richard Kiel) was an essential addition to the series' sideshow esthetic; weirdness, humor, gorgeous women, and devious ingenuity (in plotting, action and gadgetry), became the trademarks that set TWWW apart from its more conventional TV Western competition. --Jeff Shannon
On the DVD
For this much-anticipated DVD release, Paramount has made above-average efforts to satisfy fans. Virtually every episode looks and sounds practically brand-new, and with TWWW expert Sue Kesler serving as DVD co-producer, this seven-disc set features a wealth of archival extras, many culled from Kesler's own research as author of the out-of-print guidebook The Wild Wild West: The Series. In addition to excerpts from audio-taped interviews with Frieberger, writer (and "Dr. Loveless" creator) John Kneubuhl (who tells a fascinating story of how Liberace almost guest-starred on the show), music composer Richard Markowitz, and special-effects technician Tim Smyth, each episode includes brief but informative audio introductions by Robert Conrad, who also appears (with Martin) discussing the show (and their subsequent TV-movie revival of TWWW) in a 1978 talk-show appearance. Excerpts from the original music-theme scoring sessions were found in UCLA's Film and Television archive, and other extras include a network series promo clip (from a later season, after TWWW switched to color), a sketch by Ross Martin, a photo gallery, and even one of Conrad's notorious Eveready Battery commercials from the late '70s. All in all, this 40th Anniversary package should give TWWW fans ample reason to celebrate, boding well for the other season-sets to follow. --Jeff Shannon
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Top Customer Reviews
The character of Miguelito Loveless was such a huge hit with fans that Michael Dunn starred in four of the first season's 28 episodes and he made six more appearances in subsequent seasons. Miguelito Loveless was also accompanied by his mute henchman Voltaire, played by giant actor Richard Kiel. Each week the duo of James West & Artemus Gordon would be given their assignment and would arrive in deluxe fashion via their tricked-out custom railroad car complete with all the gadgets. It's sad that this wonderful show only ran for four seasons. They don't make great shows like this anymore and probably never will again!
There is definitely something to be said about watching the older classic TV shows in beautiful black & white and it's all good. I remember this show in color but I had never seen a black & white episode until owning this wonderful season one set. Paramount / CBS DVD have to be commended on this 40th Anniversary DVD release. The video transfer is truly remarkable and the sound is clean and crisp and fans definitely will be pleased with the quality of both.Read more ›
Robert Conrad introduces each episode from Season 1, and there are great extras, especially a TV interview of Conrad and Ross Martin (my personal favorite!). Season 2 was released in March 2007, around the time of what would have been Martin's 87th birthday. A fitting tribute, though no extras. So bring on Season 3 and 4, and extras please!! Even the reunion movies would be a treat to own on DVD!
A kind of James Bond goes west,every week it offered up a new and different adventure.And for TV of the time these adventures were VERY different from the norm.It successfully blended the western with bizarre people,plots and gadgets.The writers generally gave us quite a wild ride but a believable and imaginative one.
The leads played by Robert Conrad and Ross Martin were done perfectly.
The movie with the same name released in recent years sadly was as far removed from the feel and essence of the TV show as the distance from Earth to Alpha Centauri.No comparison.
The show ran a respectable four years but when Ross Martin had to bow out awhile due to bad health it spelled the eventual demise of the series.Conrad on his own couldn't shoulder the whole show, his replacement was weak and made you long all the more for Ross Martin.By the time Mr.Martin did return ratings had fallen considerably and unfortunately the show couldn't make up for the lost ground.
While I'm very happy to see this set out and know they will be followed by subsequent seasons,seasons three and four are especially going to prove tough.They don't possess the quality of this season and the next one.But to devotees of this show that probably won't matter.
Technically this set has been cleaned and spruced up to almost perfection.It's certainly a solid looker,no doubt about it.Kudos to the tech team who did the job.
The set has many extras mentioned in previous reviews so I won't go into them here.The only reason I didn't give this a five star rating is that there are no scene selection options.Read more ›
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