I went downstairs to do the recumbent bike today and while I usually read, I turned on the TV just for the company. To my happy surprise, an episode of "The Wild Wild West" was on! I didn't get to watch all of it, because we only get local channels on the basement TV, and that one isn't on satellite. But it reminded me of how much I loved that show when I was a kid and how it's still fun to watch.
I don't really remember watching it was when was a regular series (mid to late '60's), but I used to watch reruns all the time. It's a bizarre mix of Western, espionage, and science fiction, and while I don't recall it being particularly violent, apparently that was a strong criticism of the show at the time, and the main reason for its eventual demise. Robert Conrad as James West has been described as the "James Bond of the West," and I think that's very accurate. His sidekick is Artemus Gordon, played by Ross Martin. As Secret Service agents, they traveled the country in their decked-out train on government missions at the request of President Grant. They encountered some recurring bad guys on the way, and the one they battled most often is Dr. Loveless, a psychotic but brilliant dwarf.
It's some great stuff! While James was the womanizer in his tight pants and cool-looking short jacket, I was always partial to Artemus--brains over brawn! They always had plenty of gadgets, just like James Bond, and Artie was also the master of disguise. They blew things up a lot, too. Conrad did all his stunts, once suffering a concussion in a fall, and Martin once broke a leg. A couple of tough guys! Personally, I think it was a show ahead of its time, much like another late '60's show, "Star Trek." I think it bridged the gap between traditional Westerns and more modern adventure stories. A true classic.
Here is the opening credits from the first season. Everyone remember this? Note that it's in black andwhite (subsequent seasons were in color), and in the frame with the girl, after she tries to stab James, he pushes her away and she sags against the "wall." In later seasons, he gives her a punch on the jaw and she falls back onto the ground (flashing her underoos in the process). James never punched a woman on the show, but I guess this does show a bit of the violence that bothered so many at the time. This is one of the great TV show theme songs, too.