Thursday, November 11, 2021

Revisiting The Wild Wild West: The Night of Fire and Brimstone

"The Night of Fire and Brimstone" 
Written by  Bernard McEveety
Directed by Joel Kane and Milton "Butterball" Smith
Synopsis (from IMDB): West and Gordon hurry to the mining ghost town of Brimstone to meet Professor Colecrest, who claims to have made a very important discovery. Instead of the Professor, they find a group of thieves also after Colecrest's secret. In the mines beneath the town, West fights a running battle against the thieves and makes a surprising discovery of his own.

Trey: Well, this episode is definitely "weird!" Sure, the basic plot is fairly standard WWW stuff: A gang of criminals in a conveniently depopulated town after some treasure. (We saw it before in "The Night of the Colonel's Ghost"--where ironically Gordon impersonates Grant. He impersonates Lee, here!) Then the episode adds the weird wrinkle of the Confederate holdout who doesn't know the war is over.

Jim: The outstanding performance award for this episode goes to Dabbs Greer as that Confederate Holdout Captain Lyman Butler. He previously appeared in "Simian Terror," but this role really gives him more time to shine. 

Also making a return appearance from "Simian Terror" is the steampunk audio device Gordon uses to distract the guards. 

Trey: Was it in "Simian Terror," as well? It appeared most recently in "Doomsday Formula."

Jim: I had forgotten it was there! This episode makes good use of the caves (as mining tunnels) that have appeared several times on the show--and perhaps other CBS shows as well?

Trey: I feel like they surely have, but I don't know where.

Jim: I also liked the ruse West and Gordon use to escape the barn. It's the sort of clever, low tech solution that we should see more of on the show.

Trey: Yeah, in general, I liked really good West and Gordon team moments in episodes.  

On the criticism side, I feel like there are missed opportunities here than usual. The "coal mine fire" angle could have made for an eerie set (a la Silent Hill), but I guess that was beyond the budget of the show and wouldn't have allowed so much action in the cave. The Confederate holdout could have figured more into the plot than he did.

Jim: As soon as I saw him, I thought that's where the focus of the episode should have been. Outside of that, the turmoil in the town is all bit vague. I would have loved to have read the TV Guide description of this episode. 

Trey: Having written the synopsis above, I can tell you it's not easy to describe accurately and succinctly!

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