The Wild Wild West TV show ran four seasons from 1965 to 1969 (104 episodes). It was basically James Bond set in the 1870s (just after the Civil War) where Secret Service agents Jim West (played by Robert Conrad, all action and ladies’ man), and Artemus Gordon (played by Ross Martin, all gadgets and disguises). The Wild Wild West had many science fiction elements and shared many connections (actors, writers, producers, directors) with the Star Trek TV show. Here are my 10 favorite episodes, listed by the order in which they appeared.
1. The Night of the Inferno (Sept. 17 1965) – This is the pilot episode. Jim and Artie are sent to the New Mexico Territory by President Ulysses S. Grant to stop a ruthless Mexican revolutionary who is looting towns. This episode, with a clever plot twist involving a hidden identity, holds up very well and is a lot of fun.
2. The Night the Dragon Screamed (Jan. 14 1966) – The two heroes infiltrate an opium smuggling ring and become involved with rival Chinese gangs (one led by an Englishman) and a beautiful Chinese princess. Lots of secret passages and death traps and gadgets. Good fun.
3. The Night of the Golden Cobra (Sept. 23 1966) – The second season was filmed in color. The Maharajah of Ramapor, played by Boris Karloff, kidnaps Jim so that West can train his three sons in combat. But the Maharajah also has evil plans to displace a tribe of Pawnee Indians to get their land.
4. The Night of the Flying Pie Plate (Oct. 21 1966) – Jim and Artie are guarding a shipment of $1,000,000 in gold in a small town. A flying saucer with three green-skinned, blonde alien women lands, and coincidentally, need gold to fuel their ship. Hmmm.
5. The Night of the Bottomless Pit (Nov. 4 1966) – The two agents go to a Devil’s Island like prison to rescue a fellow Secret Service agent. The prison is run by an evil commandant and his iron-legged assistant guard.
6. The Night of the Watery Death (Nov. 11 1966) – The heroes are in San Francisco, do some investigation and preparing for the arrival of Admiral Farragut, when ships are attacked by swimming, fire-breathing dragons, and explode in the bay. I like the scenes that that take place in the Mermaid saloon on the fog-shrouded docks.
7. The Night of the Deadly Bubble (Feb. 24 1967) – West and Gordon go to San Francisco to investigate mysterious tidal waves. They’re being caused by a mad scientist who intends to destroy coastal towns that are polluting the seas. Very early ecological theme.
8. The Night of the Surreal McCoy (March 3 1967) – One of ten episodes that feature evil Dr. Miguelito Loveless. Bizarre plot where Loveless can place people in and out of paintings. I thought this was some going to be some sort of hoax, but no, people really do go in and out of paintings.
9. The Nigh of the Deadly Blossom (March 17 1967) – The agents are in San Francisco where they get involved in a plot to sink the ship carrying the King of Hawaii. This episode is basically a TV version of the James Bond movie “Dr. No”.
10. The Night of the Tottering Tontine (Nov. 6 1967) – This episode is like an Agatha Christie style mystery. A group of people form a tontine – a system where the last survivor gets all the money. This is not a good idea when one of the group members is a clever murderer who has a twin brother.
Three more episodes
11. The Night of the Turncoat (Dec. 1 1967) – Jim has disagreements with his superiors, is framed for a crime, and resigns from the Secret Service. He is then recruited by an evil gang that is trying to get hold of a deadly gas weapon.
12. The Night of the Kraken (Nov. 1 1968) – Jim and Artemus are in San Francisco and encounter a deadly giant tentacled monster. Is it really a Kraken, or is it a mechanical device to scare people away?
13. The Night of the Pelican (Dec. 26 1968) – Jim and his partner agent Pike (actor Charles Aidman, filling in for actor Ross Martin who had a heart attack and only did a few more episodes) are in a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco where they get a mysterious fortune cookie. The plot involves an evil Chinese scientist and rockets.