Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Revisiting The Wild Wild West: The Night of the Winged Terror

"The Night of the Winged Terror (Part 1)"
Written by  Marvin J. Chomsky
Directed by Ken Pettus
Synopsis: When prominent citizens engage in acts of senseless destruction, West and Frank Harper are put on the case. They discover that all of these men have in common a recent eye examination and a gift of spectacles from a Dr. Ocularis, and the mysterious intrusion of a raven.

Trey: I feel like this episode should have been called "The Night of the Raven," but alas, that name had already been used for an episode that barely features an raven!

Jim: You're right! I really like William Shallert as agent Frank Harper. He provides an interesting physical contrast to James West. That's something that was lacking with Pike.

Trey: Harper is also given a bit of characterization to differentiate him from Gordon--a consideration Pike never really got. Like Pike, though, Harper doesn't seem to be made to have a complimentary skill set to West in quite the same way that Gordon does, though he does demonstrate disguise skills.

Jim: The opening gives me a Manchurian Candidate vibe. The raven on the hand car makes quite the evocative method to deliver the triggering device.

Trey: Yeah, this episode has a great, pulpy high concept.

Jim: As the first Dr. Horatio Occularis, Bernard Fox makes an excellent bait and switch villain. He's got just the right amount of theatrical projection to walk the line between campy and compelling--a bit like Victor Buorno or Michael Dunn. It's a shame he was dispatched so quickly in the episode.

Trey: We've got some other TV stalwarts though. This is the second WWW appearance for Michele Carey, for instance. We last saw she way back in "Night of the Feathered Fury."

Jim: Christopher Cary as Tycho is one of the most striking villains we've seen in a while. His appearance is an appropriate blend of 50's alien scientist and eccentric inventor.

Trey:  I think this was a really good episode, though I'm holding complete judgment off until the second part. It harkens back to S2 in content and structure.

Jim: I agree with you, this is one of the better episodes we've seen this season. I feel like it uses the expanded story time to build the mystery and stakes. I'll be interested to see if the second part is as good, too.

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