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The Wild Wild West

From Academic Kids

For the 1999 film, see Wild Wild West.
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The Wild Wild West Season 1 VHS

The Wild Wild West was an American TV show that ran from 1965 to 1969. It was made into two movies with the original cast in 1979 and 1980 and remade in 1999 with a new cast and story.

The Wild Wild West told the story of the country's first two Secret Service agents - James West, the charming gunslinger (played by Robert Conrad), and Artemus Gordon, the brilliant gadgeteer and master of disguise (played by Ross Martin for most of the series' run, except when recovering from a heart attack during the show's final season) - in their unending mission to protect President Ulysses S. Grant and the United States from all manner of dangerous threats. The show incorporated classic Western elements with an espionage thriller, as well as science fiction/alternative history ideas (in a similar vein to steampunk) and plenty of comedy. In the finest James Bond tradition, there were always beautiful women, there were always arch-enemies -- and there were always half-insane plots to take over the world. The recurring arch-villain, and one of the main appeals of the show for many fans, was Dr. Miguelito Loveless, a brilliant-but-insane dwarf portrayed by Michael Dunn, who performed almost an identical function for West and Gordon as Professor Moriarty performed for Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson -- the worthy adversary, whose plans could be foiled but who resisted all attempts to capture him and bring him to justice.

The show practiced an episode naming convention where every episode title begins with "The Night Of" (except for the first-season episode Night of the Casual Killer, which omitted the initial The.) Similar naming conventions are found in other shows such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Friends.

Robert Conrad insisted on performing his own stunts, which included leaping onto a 2nd-storey balcony, and running in front of a team of horses. He also insisted on doing all the love scenes with the various love interests, sometimes making the directors do 10 or more takes. Many of the actresses got suspicious of the multiple takes.

The two late-1970s TV movies reuniting Conrad and Martin were successful enough that there was talk of a new series being commissioned, but the death of Ross Martin soon after put an end to these plans.

The series spawned some merchandising spin-offs, including a seven-issue comic book series by Gold Key Comics and a couple of original novels. In 1990-1991, another short-lived comic book series was published by Millennium Comics, and couple more novels by Robert Vaughn, no relation to the film actor, were also published during the decade.


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