Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Revisiting the Wild Wild West: The Night of the Tartar

"The Night of the Tartar" 
Written by Earl Barret & Robert C. Dennis
Directed by Charles Rondeau
Synopsis: West and Gordon are tasked with escorting Rimsky, Russian criminal, to Siberia for a prisoner exchange. When the prisoner is killed, Gordon hatches a plan to pose as Rimsky.

Trey: So do you think WWW still works...when they aren't even in the West?

Jim: I fear my answer to your question would involve major spoilers! But, in general, I feel like the "West" in the show is really more of an era designation than a place. Whether it works with more or less western tropes is sort of in the eye of the viewer.

Speaking of travel, I did like the effect they did when they were transported overseas. The semi-transparent, dreamy travel montage overlaid on top of a more clear, central scene of West drugged up. I think that's the first time we've seen that sort of thing in the show.

Trey: I think so, and given what gets revealed near the end of the episode, the dreamy/druggy eliding of the travel may have served a plot purpose, rather than just saving the budget and episode runtime.

Jim: True! But going back a little bit to the beginning,  I have a word of advice to any scientist, defecting spy, or whistleblowing politician who might find themselves under the protective care of West and Gordon: DUCK!

Seriously, these guys do not have a good track record for the safe delivery of people in their custody. I would love to see them working on their paperwork after some of their missions:  “Artie, does Man-Eating house need a hyphen?”

Trey: I feel like West and Gordon are remarkable good at not getting themselves killed, but are at best average for secret service agents in terms of not getting other people killed.

Jim: John Astin would not have been my first choice for playing a Russian Count, but his comical hamming is a good fit for this episode. 

Trey: Yeah, his accent is...well, sub-everyone else's, which is saying somethin--but his acting sold the self-important, wastrel of a Russian noble.

Jim: I was surprised by how quickly he was dispatched. 

Trey: Well, it was the end of the episode, but his end came swift within the scene. I don't know how else you'd do the knife-thrower's equivalent of an old fashion Western gunfight, except swift, though.

On another interesting casting tidbit, Susan Odin (Anastasia) was married to the director.

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