Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión
The Wild Wild West: “The Night of the Inferno”
The Wild Wild West
used to be one of my favorite shows in high school thanks to syndicated black-and-white reruns that used to be broadcast every weekend on a late night program called Night Moves
. (And yes, that program used the Bob Seger song of the same name as its theme.) Eventually I got the chance to watch the series all the way through and my enthusiasm diminished but I still have fond memories of the show's earliest episodes.
However, this episode -- the first of the series -- was not one of those episodes.
The episode begins with U.S. Secret Service agent James West (played by Robert Conrad) getting arrested on a charge of desertion, only to find out that it was a setup ordered by President Ulysses S. Grant himself. His mission: travel to the American Southwest in order to track down a dangerous Mexican revolutionary named Juan Manolo. Along the way, he runs into his partner Artemus Gordon (played by Ross Martin) as well as King Tut (aka Victor Buono) and Bob Newhart's wife (aka Suzanne Pleshette).
This episode is shamelessly politically incorrect by today's standards but it is difficult to think of any spy show this side of the Atlantic that was not. Besides, it is not likely that even the most liberal writers of the era would have found a way to make a Mexican revolutionary sympathetic to a predominantly Anglo-American audience -- though after seeing West comment on the size of a Chinese individual, one has to wonder just how ignorant of other ethnic groups this episode's writers presumed its white viewers to be to think that they would find this unusual.
Oh, well. At the very least, the episode gives today's viewers an interesting look at the way TV writers thought back in 1965 (the date of this episode's initial airing). And hope that today's TV writers might have learned better since then.
Labels: Espías con Espuelas, Estereotipos, Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión IX, Robert Conrad, Ross Martin, Series de Televisión del Oeste I, Suzanne Pleshette, Victor Buono