Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Revisiting the Wild Wild West: The Night of the Deadly Bubble

"The Night of the Deadly Bubble"
Written by Calvin Clements
Directed by Michael Edwards
Synopsis (from Wikipedia)West and Gordon, investigating a series of mysterious tidal waves off the coast of San Francisco, encounter a fanatical marine environmentalist bent on eco-terrorism..

Trey: This episode was written by Michael Edwards who also wrote "The Night of the Watery Death." He clearly had a niche in ocean-themed episodes.

Jim: Please tell me he went on to create Man from Atlantis.

Trey: I cannot tell you that. I can tell you--though I hate to be negative out of the gate--this episode just didn't do much for me. It's by the numbers, a decent Bond riff, but it lacks something. Some of it may be the structure. The heroes are (like last episode) perhaps in the clutches of the villain a bit too soon. There's also less humor in this episode, though.

Jim: I think the big problem with this episode, and a few like it, is that harkens back to some pulp stories where victims are dispatched by a mysterious or unusual means which lead back to a mad scientist. The dispatching is an essential part of what makes those stories interesting, but here it's missing.

Trey: Yes, there is, oft times, an "economy of the fantastic." If the villain has a plot involving some element of the fantastic, then the deaths may be elaborate or difficult, but they will not be fantastical, unless their means is the same as the villain's plot.

Jim: That makes sense, but I wonder why?

Trey: Budget likely has something to do with it. That and the desire of the suits at CBS to keep the fantastic elements to a minimum, maybe.

Let's move to things we did like! I thought the cold open was fairly atmospheric for a WWW episode.

Jim: I agree. The lighthouse lamp casting its ruby red glow on everything in the scene was a evocative. I don't recall seeing this special effect in old television shows before.

Trey: Alfred Ryder is suitably unhinged as Philo and his plan is appropriately grandiose. 

Jim: Definitely. Is Philo our first ecoterrorist on the show? I want to say yes.

Trey: I think so, too. Judy Lang is good as Dr. Pringle, both indignant yet distracted by West's charms in the way these things go.

Jim: Me early in the episode: "I bet Dr. Abigail Pringle will eventually reveal there is a beautiful woman hidden in that librarian façade. Don't let me down 60s TV Tropes!"

Trey: Do you think anyone was ever actually surprised when that happened?

Jim: Not since the days of radio, I bet.

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