THE WILD WILD WEST REVISITED
FILM DIRECTOR: BURT KENNEDY
-DR. MIGUELLO LOVELESS JR. PICTURE GALLERY
For those who haven't seen it, Wild Wild West Revisited (1979) was a made for TV sequel to the 60's series The Wild Wild West starring Robert Conrad and the late Ross Martin, who reprised their roles as post-Civil War Secret Service agent James West, and Artemus Gordon, an actor and con artist who joined the Secret Service in lieu of jail time.
Vaguely like the 1999 feature film of the same name, the series chronicled the adventures of West and Gordon as they fought mad scientists and madmen with dreams of world domination. Their most popular adversary was Dr. Loveless, played by Michael Dunn.
The diminutive Dunn died near the end of the show's run, so Paul Williams was hired to play Dr. Loveless's son, derisively called "Junior" by West and Gordon. The younger Dr. Loveless plotted world domination by kidnapping
President Grover Cleveland, as well as the rulers of England, Russia and Spain, replacing them with clones under his command.
And in case this is unsuccessful, he also perfected the atomic bomb and thoughtfully placed several around the world!
The Secret Service then coax the reluctant West and Gordon out of retirement to handle the situation. Alternately helped and hindered by their counterparts from the various nations whose monarchs were captives in Dr. Loveless' dungeon.
West also wrestled with his feelings for Dr. Loveless' half sister, Carmelita, who may or may not have been sincere when she asked him for help against her brother.
The film ended with Dr. Loveless defeated...maybe. His apparent death was revealed by Carmelita to possibly be a ruse, and to definitely be irrelevant, since he had already cloned himself multiple times
And as West and Gordon hopped aboard their trademark train to return to their retirement, West gave his partner a final scare by suggesting that there was no proof that the dignitaries they rescued were real, and that perhaps they were duped into placing the clones into the positions of power in place of the real rulers.
The tone of the film was much lighter than the series. In the original, Artie Gordon would call upon his talent as a master of disguise. Here, the embarrassed looking middle aged Martin wore a horrid dance hall girl getup as a "disguise."
It was also a little hard to take events seriously when mimes Robert Shields and Lorraine Yarnell appeared as Dr. Loveless' cybernetic "Six Hundred Dollar People." Admittedly, they were at times very funny, and their eerie robotic movements occasionally felt like something that could have come from the later, more fantastical episodes of the series.
Because of the huge number of characters running around, Paul's part was disappointingly small. I suspect by the fact that all but one of his scenes were shot on the same set that all his footage was assembled rather quickly.
However, he seemed to be having a wonderful time with the part, chewing the scenery very endearingly. His brief exchanges with Harris in particular were a lot of fun. It would have been great to see their twisted relationship explored a little further.
His performance was not as sinister or well defined as Swan inPhantom of the Paradise, but his Dr. Loveless was, in his own way, quite likable in spite of that whole "taking over the world' thing.
Wild Wild West Revisited was a major ratings success for CBS, and a sequel was ordered soon after. Sadly, Paul was unavailable when the next (and last) telefilm, More Wild Wild West, was shot the following year. The script was rewritten (apparently hastily, given some plot developments) for Jonathan Winters, who played a new character in place of Dr. Loveless.
As a side note, having just watched the movie in order to get photos for David, I felt a twinge -Well, actually a lot more than a twinge - of regret that the character of Dr. Loveless is so grotesquely handled in the current feature film. The two Doctors Loveless were so popular not because they were short, but rather that they had so much fun being evil. We viewers may have been rooting for West and Gordon, but we all loved (and possibly envied) Dr. Loveless in spite of ourselves. From every indication, it seems as though the intent of the new movie is to do a lighter, more over the top version of the original. If so, Paul had already given them a wonderful blueprint on how to do the character in a tongue in cheek fashion. Oh, and if they had actually hired Paul to play Dr. Loveless, I think I could have learned to live with that, too.
Thanks to Judy Reboy for the above information and great review of "The Wild Wild West Revisited". Read an extract of Judy's interview with Paul Williams for "ANiMATO" Magazine here
- "Wild Wild West Revisited" - The Cast
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