(Above: Ross Martin and Robert Conrad. Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Starting noon ET Saturday, June 27, you can spend a wild weekend with Jim and Arte on Decades.
The over-the-air channel will host a 46-episode binge of The Wild Wild West (1965-1969), the fantastical, tongue-in-cheek adventure series that was part western, part sci-fi, and part 19th-century spy thriller.
The show, which originally aired 104 episodes over four seasons on CBS (the first season in black and white), stars Robert Conrad (who died earlier this year at age 84) and Ross Martin as US Secret Service agents James West and Artemus Gordon. For the most part, Jim handles the fisticuffs, while Arte (sort of a combination of Mission Impossible’s Barney Collier and Roland Hand) is both resourcefully tech savvy and a master of disguises. Their ongoing mission – handed to them by none other than President Ulysses S. Grant – is to fight villains who seem hell-bent either on undermining the US, global domination, or at least getting incredibly rich through nefarious means.
The marathon will kick off with “The Night of the Inferno,” the show’s first episode, in which President Grant directs his new agents to investigate a series of raids in the southwest territories. It will conclude Monday at 6 am with season two’s “The Night of the Lord of Limbo,” in which a disabled Confederate colonel (Ricardo Montalban) seeks to use time travel to regain use of his legs and change the outcome of the Civil War.
The Wild Wild West does not have a regular over-the-air home, but you can find many episodes to stream on YouTube.
Here’s “The Night of the Druid’s Blood,” starring Don Rickles as a cult leader:
Jim and Arte were called out of retirement for a 1979 CBS movie, The Wild Wild West Revisited. The cast included M*A*S*H’s Harry Morgan, Star Trek’s Rene Auberjonois, Wilford Brimley as President Grover Cleveland, and singer Paul Williams as the scheming, diminutive Miguelito Loveless, Jr., son of the agents’ original archnemesis, Dr. Loveless (Michael Dunn, who died in 1973).
You can watch that film on YouTube or right here:
The duo made one more CBS movie in 1980, More Wild Wild West, featuring Morgan, Auberjonois and Victor Buono, as well as appearances by Dr. Joyce Brothers and Jack La Lane. More Wild Wild West is also available from YouTube and below:
Incidentally, for a recent interview with a feisty Conrad, check out episode two of Then Again with Herbie J Pilato, available free with ads on Shout Factory TV and Tubi, or ad-free if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber.
Big Screen Adaptation
The show was adapted for the big screen in 1999 as the much-maligned (28% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes) Wild, Wild West. Will Smith, then at the height of his movie popularity, was West, and Kevin Kline was both Gordon and President Grant. The two were tasked to rescue Grant from the clutches of Dr. Loveless (Kenneth Branagh), a Confederate scientist looking to avenge the South’s loss in the Civil War. Salma Hayek and M. Emmet Walsh co-starred.
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