Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Revisiting the Wild Wild West: The Night of the Bottomless Pit

"The Night of the Bottomless Pit" 
Written by Ken Kolb
Directed by Ropert Sparr
Synopsis (from Wikipedia): Jim and Artie infiltrate Devil's Island to rescue a fellow agent from a vicious commandant.

Trey: This is my least favorite episode this season. It is not objectively as bad as "Golden Cobra" and perhaps better put together than "Night of the Raven" or "Night of the Big Blast," but it's missing something. An escape from Devil's Island (or a stand-in) is a standard action adventure plot of the Golden Age of Action/Adventure Broadcast TV (which I'm positing as roughly 1960-1980). The villain and his goon are Bondian in their traits, true, but nothing here says "wild" (and certainly not "wild wild") or "west." It's a disappointing offering from Ken Kolb who at least seem to embrace the fantastic conceit of the show in episodes like "Burning Diamond" and "Sudden Plague."

Jim: Yeah, and when considering this type of plot was every 6th episode of Mission Impossible, it felt especially weak. I wonder if this trend was influenced by the popularity of The Great Escape? On the villains, I'm now thinking if you were bald, you had a good chance at getting cast as an evil doer on this show!

Trey: Well, we should give it it's due before moving on: It does hit all the classic Devil's Island/brutal prison camp marks. It has some nice action, and Artemus gets to do some stuff--though really, that's all been true of the past few episodes.

Jim:  I did like how West made the switch with the prisoner in the cold open.  And I agree on the scenes with Artemus! The scene where he passes his "audition" to be a corrupt prison guard is a classic. The writers have really gravitated to him for line delivery, comedic support and the occasional action scene.

Trey: That good aside, there's more bad to consider, like: They don't make an effort to make the staff and prisoners of the island seem French, do they? I mean, they give them French names, but no one even attempts a French accent.

Jim: They sure don't. Even with Ross Martin, who has shown a skill for accents in the past! Just a few "Ze prisoners..." or "Merci!" here and there would have been all we needed. 

One also has to wonder how much business was Miss Grimes Boutique getting on Devil's Island?

Trey: She's waiting for the gentrification that has yet to appear!

Did you recognize the famous tropical lagoon here? It's the one from Gilligan's Island!

Jim: Yep. I believe it made an appearance in season one as well in "The Night of the Murderous Spring" too.

I thought the "Hubert Crabtree" joke at end was one of the better gag endings the show has had.

Trey: Yeah, Camille has a type, and it's guys that look like 60s TV villains. Theo Marcuse played three of them in WWW alone!

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