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 The Night of the Fatal Trap
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couldron
SS novice field agent

1444 Posts

Posted - 06/03/2003 :  10:42:05  Show Profile
This episode Susan Kesler says is the worst WWW ever made. It, like the other episodes produced by Collier Young, is a plain western. It does lack the Bond like spy element that is associated with www. The only thing it has is one little bottle of sleep gas. That being said, I must disagree with SK there is much I like about this episode. I love the dialogue between Artie and Jim while Jim is printing up the wanted posters. Artie tells Jim to quit playing and get to work. I guess Jim wasn’t in charge all the time. The sparring between Jim and Linda Medford (Joanna Moore) is perhaps the best in the series. We learn a little about Jim’s character. If he makes a promise, he will keep it. A trait we will see in other episodes. Joanna Moore is a terrific actress and it is because of her that this episode is so good. The expression on her face of the boorish behavior of Jim is terrific. I love that whole dinner scene. This is the last we see of Tennyson. He takes a more active role in the agents’ assignment. When I rate these episodes I try to do so on what is expected of the series. Even though I personally loved Casual Killer, I rated it on the elements that should be present and were lacking. This episode also lacks a lot of those elements. It does have one element though and that is the friendship between JW and AG. It also has that wonderful Mojave Mike. His antics were classic.

Rating

ccb
SS Quizmaster Emeritus

3908 Posts

Posted - 06/03/2003 :  21:52:40  Show Profile
I'm really glad that couldron is inviting us each week to do this, because it gives me reason to revisit old opinions and weigh them.

When I first read Sue Kesler's (now infamous) appraisal of this episode, I thought to myself, "She's absolutely right." I've always thought this one of the weakest Wests. Apparently, CBS agreed since (a) it's the last Collier Young produced before they fired him, and (b) though the fourth episode in the series to be produced, they held back its original airing until Christmas Eve, 1965 (when they figured probably no one would be watching television).

What do I dislike about it? Like all of the Young episodes, I find most of the humor too broad (with one exception; see below). It's all western and no spoofy secret-agentry. As Mary suggests, factor out the gas pellet in West's boot-heel and (of course) Artemus, and there's virtually nothing here that you wouldn't expect from any TV western of that era. Though stylish, the lead villain is boring; his scheme, hardly worth wasting our heroes over.

And yet, couldron's comments cause me to soften my views somewhat. Joanna Moore is, hands down, the best of the three female leads in the Collier Young episodes. Ross Martin knew exactly what he wanted to do with his character—and the characters his character adopted—and wins me over. Mojave Mike is one of his funniest creations, desert-rat variations on which Martin would work in years to come; but this, the original, was the best. Joseph Ruskin (Viper) provides exactly the menace this episode needs to keep it from spinning out of control. (The scene in the bar where Viper abruptly, wordlessly upends Mike's drink is just right.) And I have to confess: Slade's dinner with Vasquez is funny—enough so that it makes me wonder how the series might have evolved if they had given Conrad more opportunities for comedy. (The stiltedness in much of his acting works perfectly for understated comedy.) And, like all of the first season episodes, the production values are very good (with the exception of the two-shot struggle between Conrad and Ron Randell on the top of the stagecoach, obviously and painfully shot safely on a set, in front of a projected background). It may not be a very good episode of The Wild Wild West, but it would have made a pretty good episode of Maverick, with James Garner in the role of Frank Slade. That's not bad. So . . . I'll be generous and give this episode, out of five,



P.S.: As much as there may be to dislike in this episode, it has one of my favorite exchanges between West and Artemus in the entire series—and woe betide you if you saw a TNT version that unconscionably clipped it out! When West insists that Artemus, undercover as Mojave Mike, sleep in the town stable:

ARTEMUS: A stable! What about the smell?
WEST: The horses—
BOTH (in unison): —will just have to get used to it.
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AdorableBlue
SS novice field agent

948 Posts

Posted - 06/04/2003 :  08:06:33  Show Profile  Visit AdorableBlue's Homepage
This eps certainly lacked the usual action and gadgetry use of WWW, making it rather plain. And the plot could be kinda boring, too plus my tape not having the clearest of sounds! But as with other eps of WWW, other scenes/acts do make up for it, thus making it an eps one should have!!

I do like the printing scene exchange of j&a in the train and the ones involving Linda and JW are truly hilarious! And that cute tag confirming JW wasn't keen on tying any knots with just one gal anywhere! His reaction when Linda said "you and me?" in the tag was priceless!

AdorableBlue
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K Mills
SS novice field agent

849 Posts

Posted - 06/04/2003 :  11:11:26  Show Profile
CCB's comments make me wonder. If Columbia House puts this ep on a dvd will it have the lost scene?? If so, it will truly be a must have. I liked at the horses in this one (duh) and the dinner scene. Mojave Mike was great - but
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couldron
SS novice field agent

1444 Posts

Posted - 06/04/2003 :  11:53:04  Show Profile
quote:
I liked at the horses in this one (duh) and the dinner scene


This was not the usual horse that RC had or was it?
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K Mills
SS novice field agent

849 Posts

Posted - 06/05/2003 :  19:07:45  Show Profile
I think it was HH, Superstar wasn't on the scene yet. I love that horse!
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JimPhelps
SS 1st assignment - desk job

USA
417 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2003 :  12:02:14  Show Profile
I was finally able to find a copy of “TNOT Fatal Trap”, it’s literally been years since I’ve revisited this enjoyable tongue-in-cheek caper. The plot is definitely suited for Maverick, the villain (and his crimes) are all classic western. Like “TNOT Double Edged Knife” this episode is kind of like a departure for the series, although technically it wasn’t a departure since it was only the fourth episode in the series. Like all of the Young episodes the relationship between Jim and Arte is a lot warmer than in the rest of the B&W episodes. There are some great exchanges between the agents, like the hilarious “The horses will just have to get used to it,” seems straight out of the color years. I have to hand it to ccb for spotting the pattern in Young episodes: No Jim or Arte in the teaser, instead we are shown the problem before the Secret Service has been summoned, then at the beginning of Act I we have exposition between Jim and Arte, then it’s on to the story. I have never noticed this pattern during 17 years of watching WWW!

It’s interesting that Jim is the mastermind behind the scheme to trap Vasquez, in later episodes such as “TNOT Bubbling Death”, and “TN Dr. Loveless Died” it was Arte who dreamed up complex schemes to solve a case. This is especially true in “TN Dr. Loveless Died” where Arte manipulates Triste into revealing Loveless’ hideout; later on he single-handedly saves Jim from getting a lobotomy. (Perhaps both agents decided to let Arte do the planning after this episode since a few things do go awry)

Ron Randell makes for a smooth (and snooty) villain, dressed in fancy outfits surrounded by luxury and hard bitten underlings the most threatening of which is Viper Black played by Joseph Ruskin who was always perfect in such roles. Vasquez is a nasty outlaw but small potatoes compared to the antagonists Jim and Arte would face later on. Jim has a lot of fun with Vasquez’s stuck up nature, his boorish table manners are a hoot and I love his line after breaking a 200-year-old wineglass “You got your money’s worth.”
I did notice a plot hole however: How does Arte survive being shot while disguised as Mojave Mike? I don’t know how he did it. This plot hole could be the result of editing by my local station, when I began receiving the series through Columbia House I was pleasantly surprised to find a “hidden” scene or an extra 60 or 30 seconds here and there, the episodes had been cut by my local station to make room for one more high volume used car dealership commercial.

Joanna Moore is very good as Linda, Moore and Conrad play off of each other very well. The character of Linda is potentially very threatening; she can easily blow the entire operation sky high. Luckily, Vasquez is such a jerk towards her that she keeps mum. The tag makes it appear that Linda doesn’t know Jim and Arte are Secret Service but I find that very hard to believe considering her past with Jim and the events that have just transpired. Perhaps she didn’t know Jim was an agent when she first met him years ago, and she may have thought he was just a slick con man when he turns up in her life again in another disguise but surely she must have put 2 and 2 together by the end of this story.

This is of course the last we see of Tennyson. I didn’t dislike him but I don’t think he really has much of a place in WWW; the character brings nothing to the table. Jim and Arte are capable of cleaning and cooking for themselves and it’s probably not a good idea to have a non-professional hanging around as a potential hostage. What would Tennyson do when Count Manzeppi shows up for an unexpected visit? Probably just faint.

The commercial break art is very good in this episode, each frame is distinct and I really like the music used at the end of Act I, it sums up the mood nicely. The final frame though uses the familiar stock footage of the train pulling away. It’s an okay shot but it was used way too often during the first season, a little imagination might have spiced things up.

Overall, an average episode. Collier Young had some good ideas but if the series had continued in this vein I doubt we would be sitting here taking about it 40 years later. Fred Freiberger is the next producer and he really got things on the fast track although the relationship between Jim and Arte would go back to Day 0 in a pattern that’s repeated several times during the first season.

I give it 2 out of 4 prosthetic noses.





EEM
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couldron
SS novice field agent

1444 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2003 :  13:06:50  Show Profile
Whew EEM

Your comments were great and thought provoking.

We need your help on the quiz so come on over.

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JimPhelps
SS 1st assignment - desk job

USA
417 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2003 :  14:08:32  Show Profile
I'll give it my best on the quiz, those questions are pretty darn tough.

EEM
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beerbad
SS novice field agent

759 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2003 :  09:01:50  Show Profile
I watched it last night and enjoyed it.

It was a great Artie episode and the humor was very good. my copy is off-air but had the stable joke.

I thought it was much better than Casual Killer, but like that episode both Jim and artie are undercover.

There is a reason for Tennyson, in that in the first episode Jim is given the cover that he is a wealthy easterner who owns this private train. So, he would naturally have a butler.

I'm going with three smilies, the number of smiles I got from the jokes.
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n/a
deleted

101 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2003 :  15:49:30  Show Profile
Well, Mojave Mike's always been a favorite of mine, although I wouldn't rank this as an all time fave episode. LOL....




"Things Artemus, are not always what they appear to be."
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JimPhelps
SS 1st assignment - desk job

USA
417 Posts

Posted - 06/16/2003 :  16:06:27  Show Profile
Interesting side note I forgot to mention in my original analysis: Ron Randell (Vasquez) guest stars as villain Charles Buckman in the Mission: Impossible episode “The Contender”. An episode that features a cameo by none other than… Robert Conrad!

Mr. Phelps
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Elaine
SS 1st assignment - desk job

356 Posts

Posted - 07/14/2003 :  18:57:55  Show Profile
As a contributor-come-lately, I had to go back to this episode briefly since it was shown on my local station today.

There was quite a bit of talk about how "ugly" Jim should be as Frank Slade. Please - it would take a lot more than a mustache to make him "ugly".

Another amusing ( but ridiculous) exchange takes place between Jim and Linda in his hotel room. She's living with Vasquez. She's apparently already had a fling with Jim. Yet she appears to panic (turning around and closing her eyes!) as Jim undresses. Ah, the '60's!
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AdorableBlue
SS novice field agent

948 Posts

Posted - 07/14/2003 :  19:45:15  Show Profile  Visit AdorableBlue's Homepage
quote:
Another amusing ( but ridiculous) exchange takes place between Jim and Linda in his hotel room. She's living with Vasquez. She's apparently already had a fling with Jim. Yet she appears to panic (turning around and closing her eyes!) as Jim undresses. Ah, the '60's!
I find that strange, too! (Blue wouldn't be turning around nor closing her eyes if Jim does that!!!!)

Or probably.....she knew she won't be able to concentrate (or resist ) if she sees him, in view that the reason was to get a share of the money. (Blue trying to think straight .........)

AdorableBlue
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n/a
deleted

243 Posts

Posted - 07/15/2003 :  18:49:32  Show Profile
quote:
Blue wouldn't be turning around nor closing her eyes...



JW was never defeated... except by our own AdorableBlue!!!
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n/a
deleted

72 Posts

Posted - 08/06/2003 :  21:54:38  Show Profile
Having watched this episode again today with my CH dvd, I can see why some wouldn't like the episode because it is a straight western, but to me one of the unique and endearing qualities about the first season was the differing "styles". I don't see that as a minus. This episode had a little bit of everything:

Some good dialog between Artie and Jim
Good villians
Decent plot
Great Artie scenes as Mojave Mike
Very good scenes with Jim and Linda (especially the confronation in his room)

Overall, I think some are too hard on this episode. Sure, it isn't the "Bondy" type we eventually saw, but I like the change of pace from time to time in regards to more western feels for the show in this first season.

Gary
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