The Wild Wild West

There are no words to adequately express the excitement created by this DVD boxed set release of the complete first season of The Wild, Wild West. While several episodes were only available on DVD in recent years through a pricey enrollment club, this represents the first time the ENTIRE first season of this landmark TV Western icon has been available in ANY format! Starring Robert Conrad as Agent James T. West, along with the late and deeply lamented, Ross Martin, who portrayed his partner, Artemis Gordon, master of disguise and invention, the series ran on CBS from 1965-1969… The series focused on their adventures as the country’s first secret service agents, working for President Ulysses S. Grant, to thwart all manner of evil doers who directed their villainy at individuals and/or the nation. Mixing espionage, thrilling adventure, western cliff-hanger suspense and high-tech, sci-fi gadgetry the likes of which had never been seen on network TV, the series propelled the actors into international stardom. On the series, West and Gordon traveled in style on a personal train equipped with the amazing gear they used each week to save the day and/or world (the interior of which was used in the epic Gunsmoke episode, “Death Train.”) (Note: Martin, who suffered a heart attack during the first season, was replaced during the last season by the network because they were concerned about his health, which probably resulted in the series’ demise. Actor Charles Aidman joined the cast, portraying Jeremy Pike, also a master of disguise, who was supposedly West’s former partner. Two later made-for-TV movies, The Wild, Wild West Revisited in 1979, and More Wild, Wild West in 1980, reunited Conrad and Martin.) The series (set in 1868 primarily in or around San Francisco) continues to be a source of fevered worldwide fan devotion. Like The Avengers, which also aired in the 1960s, The Wild, Wild West was made into a simply awful “blockbuster” big-screen feature film in the 1990s, which failed in every way to capture the quality, fun, adventure, action and entertainment of the original, beloved series. The brilliant actor, the late Michael Dunn, guest starred in 10 episodes during the show’s run (several considered the best in the series) as the diabolical nemesis of West and Gordon, Dr. Miguelito Loveless, who suffered from delusions of grandeur. (At 3 feet-10-inches tall, Dunn suffered from chondrodystroyphy, which eventually took his life. He was also a child prodigy with an IQ of 178 and became a concert pianist at age 15, and was a remarkable singer.) Dr. Loveless was ably assisted by the devoted Voltaire, portrayed by Richard Kiel (best known for his portrayal of the evil “Jaws” in the James Bond films, “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Moonraker”), who is a towering 7-feet-two-inches tall! The juxtaposition of the two actors increased the pathos that Dunn used in his unforgettable performances expressing the doctor’s jealousy and hatred of West for his “perfect body” and society in general for its embrace of physical beauty and harsh rejection of those who do not meet that superficial, rigid criteria. Throughout the series, Conrad insisted on performing all of his own stunts (which were minion) and viewed himself as a tough-guy, developing a devoted stunt crew “family.” Dunn, who was no slouch himself, also performed his stunts at the urging of Conrad, despite network fears that both actors would be seriously injured (Conrad did suffer numerous injuries and Dunn injured an ankle.) As of this writing, the studio had not announced what, if any, special features would be included in the boxed set. The first season (the only one in black and white) had 28 episodes: The Night of the Inferno; The Night of the Deadly Bed; The Night the Wizard Shook the Earth (introducing Dr. Loveless); The Night of Sudden Death; Night of the Casual Killer (the only episode in the entire series to omit “The” before “Night of” in a title); The Night of a Thousand Eyes; The Night of the Glowing Corpse; The Night of the Dancing Death; The Night of the Double-Edged Knife; The Night that Terror Stalked the Town (also featuring Dr. Loveless); The Night of the Red-Eyed Madmen; The Night of the Human Trigger; The Night of the Torture Chamber; The Night of the Howling Light; The Night of the Fatal Trap; The Night of the Steel Assassin; The Night the Dragon Screamed; The Night of the Grand Emir; The Night of the Flaming Ghost; The Night of the Whirring Death (third Dr. Loveless episode); The Night of the Puppeteer; The Night of the Bars of Hell; The Night of the Two-Legged Buffalo; The Night of the Druid’s Blood; The Night of the Freebooters; The Night of the Burning Diamond; The Night of the Murderous Spring (Dr. Loveless’ final appearance in Season 1); and The Night of the Sudden Plague.

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