Thursday, September 30, 2021

Revisiting The Wild Wild West: The Night of the Juggernaut


"The Night of the Juggernaut" 
Written by  Calvin Clements Jr.
Directed by Irving J. Moore
Synopsis (from IMDB): West and Gordon discover homesteaders are being run off their land by some sort of armored machine.

Jim: I've been waiting for this episode. Whether it's Speed Racer vs the Mammoth Car or Six Million Dollar Man's Death Probe, I always find the concept of a hero facing off against an unstoppable menace enjoyable. Man, do we jump to the setup and action quick with this one! We're just in the cold open, and we already get West and Gordon facing off against the steam-powered juggernaut.

Trey: It definitely doesn't waste any time.

Jim: How "science fiction" do you judge the juggernaut to be?

Trey: Well, the basic idea is perhaps credibly in the realm of "near future" speculation, but the specific design of this juggernaut is pretty fanciful compared to the steam-powered cars of the era.

Jim: It does seem odd it's so fanciful. There's not really a reason for the villain to paint it like that.

Trey: The driver even has a matching uniform! Maybe there's some sort of villain infernal contraption road race, and this was going to be his entry?

Jim: Now, that's an episode I'd like to see! Back to this episode, though, I enjoyed Lyle Dixon (played by boxer/actor Floyd Patterson) as the homesteader in this episode.


Trey: He's good guest star. Season 4 has had more Black actors in the episodes we've watched than any 2 other whole seasons, I bet. The times were changing! Overall, while I still like this episode, I think it appealed to me more when I was younger. The "tank" was emblematic of this being a different sort of Western to me then. Now, it feels a bit like a gimmick to enliven a fairly average episode. But it does enliven it.

Jim: Yeah, if you remove the juggernaut, this was just another spin on the rancher chasing off homesteaders trope.

Trey: Yeah, it's very stereotypical, and it's also the second time we've gotten a "I want the land for the oil" plot in the episodes we've watched, the first being "The Night of the Golden Cobra."

Jim: One think I noticed at the end of the episode: Is Robert Conrad's hair getting longer? It looked longer, particularly the sideburns.

Trey: I did! Like I say, the times are changing!

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