Friday, February 18, 2022

Revisiting The Wild Wild West: The Night of the Bleak Island

"The Night of the Bleak Island"
Written by  Robert E Kent
Directed by Marvin J Chomsky
Synopsis: West goes to the aptly named Bleak Island to retrieve a diamond bequeathed to the National Museum. When howls of a ghostly hound are heard and a murder occurs, He teams up with another invitee and an old acquaintance, Sir Nigel Scott of Scotland Yard, to solve the mystery.
Jim: Given the opening shots of the tiny ship tossed amongst the waves, this really would have been the better episode to have Alan Hale Jr. guest star on. They even use the same ship from Gilligan's Island in one shot.

Trey: The little boat they were in I'm pretty sure was the same one in "The Night of the Pelican," too.

Jim: All the guests talking on the small boat as they ferry to Bleak Island gives us an appropriate And Then There Were None vibe, though the actual episode leans more on The Hound of the Baskervilles. With a slight nod to Wilke Collins' The Moonstone! This episode manages to find a way to tip its hat to at least three classic English mystery stories.

Trey: The title may even be a reference to Dickens' Bleak House, too, but that could be just a coincidence.

Jim: I'm curious when this episode was filmed. Was it during Martin's absence? If so, they sat on it for a bit before showing it.

Trey: Looking at production order, this the last episode filmed before Ross' return in "The Night of the Diva." I don't know why they saved it.

Jim: Interestingly, it has some Gothic trapping and tropes in common with that episode.

Trey: Agreed!

Jim: John Williams, as Sir Nigel Scott, makes  a good Sherlock Holmes analog. Though, I think I would have enjoyed seeing a much younger man portraying the real Sherlock Holmes. However, given the way the plot plays out, though, it makes sense why they didn't go that way.

Trey: Yeah, if we go by fandom theorizing, Holmes would have been in his 20s probably here. He's like 10 years younger that West. As you say though, Sir Nigel presents the aging British Empire and West up and the up and coming United States. I don't think the SPOILER--reveal of Sir Nigel as the villain plays a part in the allegory, though.

Jim: I'm gonna have to think about that.

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