Thursday, February 3, 2022

Revisiting The Wild Wild West: The NIght of the Pistoleros

"The Night of the Pistoleros"
Written by  Earl Barret and Robert C. Dennis
Directed by Bernard McEveety
Synopsis: Called to an isolated border fort by an old friend, West and Gordon stumble upon an elaborate scheme involving imposter army officers to provoke a war with Mexico.

Jim: It's great to see Ross Martin return to the show, even if this was actually shot before he returned.

Trey: It is, but yeah, since this episode doesn't mention Artemus being away in Washington and the next does, it seems like this was shown out of production order. I also note  I think this is the first we've heard of Artie's Civil War service.

Jim: I found the focus on Artemis Gordon in this episode very interesting. It added a bit of mystery to the corrupt cavalry plot. When he was shot, I kept expecting to see him return in the next scene. This is probably one of the better fake outs we've gotten in the series.

Trey: The episode may be only the second we've seen that we've watched that truly integrated a Bond/Mission Impossible style plot with a Western one. That makes it better than a lot of the straight up Western riffs. It's also seems to be a notably violent episode. It opens with a shoot out, which is a rarity for this show.

 Jim: Yeah, I totally get a Mission Impossible vibe from this episode as well. Part of it is all extensive use of doppelgangers. The perfect duplication of a person's features via plastic surgery feels like a very 60's thing. The ambush and standoff made for a good cold open, and the pink smoke providing cover for their escape was a nice way to add some color to the scene.

Trey: 60s TV does love it's pinkish smoke! I'm disappointed that we don't get to know more about the villain, particularly because I believe he's unique in the series: a Mexican (I assume) mastermind. Most villains in the episodes set in Mexico are gringo interlopers. Mexican characters are at best supporting cast and at worst window-dressing. This guy is local, and has a plot that seems centered locally. The U.S. army is just the instrument he's employing. The surgeon seems extraneous to me, though. Why not have the mastermind also be the surgeon?

Jim: Yeah, the main villain and the surgeon could have been easily combined, but I would have wanted a better actor for that role -  maybe a reappearance by Ricardo Montalban?

Trey: Well, we didn't get Ricardo Montalban, but you know who we did get? A young Robert Pine of CHiPs fame.

Jim: I think Erik Estrada is really the only actor that deserves to be in the same sentence with "CHiPs" and "fame."

Trey: Good point.

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