Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Revisiting The Wild Wild West: The Night of the Headless Woman

"The Night of the Running Death" 
Written by Edward J Lasko
Directed by Alan Crosland Jr.
Synopsis: West and Gordon investigate a plot to decimate America's cotton crops using boll weevils.

Trey: Two in a row written by Lasko! I have to say: he's not my favorite.

Jim: He's trying! With the threat of a boll weevil infestation, I believe this is our second biological warfare episode in the series, the first being "TNOT Deadly Spring".

Trey: There's a couple more, I would say: the threatened disease carrying rats of "Man-Eating House," and the first season Theo Marcuse appearance in "Sudden Plague."

Jim: Oh yeah! Marcuse gets very little screentime as Abdul Hassan here. Especially compared to The Six Million Dollar Man's Richard Anderson as Harbor Commissioner James Jeffers.

Trey: Hassan is more intriguing.

Jim: Yeah. His hacienda makes quite the spectacular villain's lair. The set decorators added some eye-catching details. Among the attributes that make this show stand out amongst other western fare, I feel like lavish sets are one of them. It goes hand and hand with a notably eccentric villain.

Trey: Definitely. Kesler doesn't think this episode is particularly good, and I'm inclined to agree. The basic villain plot is good, and the mystery regarding the true villain are good stuff to work with, but there's too much skulking around on docks and the fights aren't as exciting as what we're used to. Hassan with his elaborate lair and moll is clearly meant to seem the primary villain, but his meeting with West is all too brief and perhaps too early in the episode. I think a restructuring with parallel investigations by West and Gordon for more  of the run time would have worked better.

Jim: Plotwise, this episode does feel like it's all over the place with the various villains. But seeing Artemis wander around the docks of San Francisco, I again think this show should have been based in this town. The setting seems to lend itself to some of the general air of intrigue and skullduggery that benefits the show. Not only that, but such a location would have provided a means to build up a supporting cast that could have helped in many ways.

Trey: That is an opinion you've expressed before. Season 1 won you over to San Francisco, then you liked getting away from it, now you want it back again.

Jim: See, perfectly consistently...Anyway, back to skulking: West skulking around in his pancho really shows us why Artie is the Disguise Guy on the show!

Trey: True! Oh, In our guest star run down we forget to mention Dawn Wells.

Jim: Wells won't be the last Gilligan's Island alumni to make an appearance on this show. It's a shame Russell Johnson didn't give us a turn as a scientist at some point, though.

Trey: Does this episode have the weirdest ending of any we've watched?

Jim: Yep. The bug sex watching bit at the end is a rather odd coda. I have no idea how the writers got that by the censors.

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