Wild Wild West Season 3 Typical Episode Notes
Video Codec..........: XviD ISO MPEG-4
Video Bitrate........: 1048kbps
Audio Codec..........: 0x2000 (Dolby AC3) AC3
Audio Bitrate........: 192 kbps CBR
Audio Channels.......: 2
Bits/(Pixel*Frame)...: At least 0.140 per episode
The Wild Wild West is an American television series that ran on CBS for four seasons (104 episodes) from September 17, 1965 to April 4, 1969.
The Wild Wild West told the story of two Secret Service agents: James T. West, the charming gunslinger (played by Robert Conrad), and Artemus Gordon (played by Ross Martin), the brilliant gadgeteer and master of disguise. Their unending mission was to protect President Ulysses S. Grant and the United States from all manner of dangerous threats. The agents traveled in luxury aboard their own train, the Wanderer, equipped with everything from a stable car to a laboratory. James West had served as an intelligence and cavalry officer in the US Civil War; his "cover" during the series is that he is a railroad president. After retiring from the Service by 1880 he lives on a ranch in Mexico. Gordon's past is more obscure; when he retires in 1880 he goes on the road as the head of a Shakespeare traveling players troupe.
The show incorporated classic Western elements with an espionage thriller, science fiction/alternate history ideas (in a similar vein to steampunk), in one case horror ("The Night of the Man Eating House") and plenty of comedy. In the finest James Bond tradition, there were always beautiful women, clever gadgets, and delusional arch-enemies with half-insane plots to take over the country or the world.
The title of each episode begins with "The Night" (except for the first-season episode "Night of the Casual Killer", which omitted the definite article).
A memorable recurring arch-villain was Dr. Miguelito Quixote Loveless, a brilliant but megalomaniac dwarf portrayed by Michael Dunn. Like Professor Moriarty for Sherlock Holmes, Loveless provided West and Gordon with a worthy adversary, whose plans could be foiled but who resisted all attempts to capture him and bring him to justice. Loveless was introduced in the show's sixth produced, but third televised episode, "The Night the Wizard Shook The Earth", and appeared in another nine episodes. Initially he had two constant companions: the huge Voltaire, played by Richard Kiel; and the beautiful Antoinette, played by Dunn's real-life singing partner, Phoebe Dorin. Voltaire disappeared with no explanation after his third episode (although Richard Kiel returned in a different role in "The Night of the Simian Terror"), and Antoinette after her sixth. According to the TV movie The Wild Wild West Revisited, Loveless eventually dies in 1880 from ulcers, brought on by anger and frustration at having his plans consistently ruined by West and Gordon. (His son, played by Paul Williams, subsequently seeks revenge on the agents.)
Though several actors appeared in multiple villainous roles, only one other character had a second encounter with West and Gordon: Count Manzeppi (played flamboyantly by Victor Buono, who played another, different villain in the pilot), a diabolical genius of "black magic" and crime, who like Dr. Loveless had an escape plan at the end. (Buono eventually returned in More Wild Wild West as "Dr. Henry Messenger," a parody of Henry Kissinger, who ends up both handcuffed and turning invisible with the villainous Paradine.)
While the show's writers created their fair share of villains (Agnes Moorehead won an Emmy for her role as Emma Valentine in "The Night of The Vicious Valentine"), they frequently started with the nefarious, stylized inventions of these madmen and then wrote the episodes around these devices. Stories were also inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, H. G. Wells, and Jules Verne.
According to Susan Kesler's book, CBS bowed under pressure from watchdog groups and the show received its cancellation notice in late February, 1969. Bruce Lansbury claimed that "It was a sacrificial lamb...It went off with a 32 or 33 share which in those days was virtually break-even, but it always won its time period." The networks played it safe thereafter: of the 22 new television shows that debuted in the fall of 1969, not one was a western or detective drama; 14 were comedy or variety series.