Dropped: The Wild, Wild West

Posted on January 9, 2013


Just three months ago, I wrote a rave about a childhood favorite TV show – The Wild, Wild West.

A few weeks ago, I pulled it from my DVR.

What happened?

Well, season 3 happened.

In the first two seasons, it seemed like there was some investment in the stories and the secondary characters.

The show spent time showing us how Jim West and Artemus Gordon lived, equipped themselves, and worked.

Artie was a master of disguise, but he was also a chemist and a chef.

Now, to be honest, you could always tell which villains would recur and which would not. The recurring villains had back-stories and motivations. Miguelito Loveless, for example, had a legitimate claim by birth to certain property in California, and that was what he wanted. Non-recurring villains had a scheme…and that was about it.

Even more, we see the schemes move away from advanced science to science fiction. What I mean is, in the first 2 seasons, most of the super devices owned by the villains are things that were possible by the 1960s, and that could have been discovered in the nineteenth century (but weren’t). As the season went on, the super devices stopped having any basis in scientific fact and simply became fiction.

I noticed in season 2 that the show moved away from interesting, well-written, villains. More of them were fixated egomaniacs with comic book plots, and fewer of them were intelligent people with plots within their means. We even got a few inexplicable supernatural episodes.

And then season 3.

If I had to pinpoint a moment when the show jumped the shark for me, it would be episode 10, The Night of the Falcon. Robert Duvall plays Dr. Horace Humphries, a medical man whose knowledge of chemistry lets him develop an explosive and a cannon that, together, are an ultimate weapon. He and his army of thugs wear blue, falcon-themed, costumes. I swear. It’s like something out of Space Ghost.

I happen to love Robert Duvall’s work, so this episode rubs me raw. I’m probably the only person, because it’s really not that much worse than any other episode. I mean, come on. In The Night Dr. Loveless Died, Miguelito Loveless fakes his own death and then masquerades as his own look-alike relative – and our heroes fall for it? Really?

No, there’s no real jump-the-shark moment.

The Wild, Wild West just loses steam. It goes from proto-steampunk to cheesy crap over time – as many shows do.


Name another show that started off interesting and then pandered to a lowest common denominator.

Posted in: television