MORE WILD WILD WEST (1980)
Article 4644 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Burt Kennedy
Featuring Robert Conrad, Ross Martin, Jonathan Winters
What it is: TV-Movie update of an older TV series
James West and Artemus Gordon are called out of retirement to hunt down a madman who has the ability to make himself invisible… and has created a devastating bomb that may help him take over the world.
This is the second TV-Movie revival of “The Wild, Wild West”, my favorite TV show as a child. For those interested in my reaction to the earlier TV-Movie (THE WILD, WILD WEST REVISITED), go check my review on it. This is cut from the same cloth, and it has roughly the same strengths (it captures some of the ambiance of the original series, Robert Conrad and Ross Martin work well together, etc.) and weaknesses (it replaces the slyly satirical spy story played straight with overt comedy). The odd thing for me about watching this one is that I found I was getting used to that shift; as jarring as it was with the first movie, I found myself settling in and growing to accept it with this one, even if I did sense that it left the show in a weird limbo where it was neither fish nor fowl. All I can say is this; if the TV series had been revived (it was discussed, but the death of Ross Martin the next year put an end to that plan), it would’ve needed much better scripts and funnier jokes than there is here; despite my acceptance of the shift, I still didn’t find much to laugh at here. The thing that I liked the best here was to see Victor Buono appear as a parody of Henry Kissinger; he pretty much steals what there is to steal. I do think it’s a shame that I’ll not be covering anything from the original series, as none of the episodes have been edited into movies.