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 The Night of the Dancing Death
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couldron
SS novice field agent

1444 Posts

Posted - 08/28/2003 :  13:15:18  Show Profile
The Night of the Dancing Death opens with the death of a supposed princess that is being guarded by Jim and Artie. In this scene, Artie’s dialogue is cut although you can see what he says. Jim tells Artie that the assassins are gone. The phony princess dies and we see Artie mouth and so is she. I wonder if the censors were responsible for this cut. The episode introduces us to Kung Fu, which Prince Gio (Mark Richman) practices. I wonder if that was truly Kung Fu. After a couple of seconds watching the prince, both agents are impressed with his abilities. I was bored. . I thought it looked ridiculous and contrived but I know nothing about the art. The Prince is this episode’s heavy. He is not very threatening neither is his organization of criminals. It has plenty of women. I am hardly a judge but I do not think Marianna (Ilze Taurins) is pretty. Guys I guess you are going to have to be the judge of this. There are plenty of pretty women. There are some good fights but I thought the ending of the fight with the Prince was lame. By the way, a successful typewriter was invented around this time. The first patent was granted in 1714 by Queen Anne to Henry Mill. It was never made commercially and there is doubt if it was made at all. The Remington & Sons Co., the maker of guns and sewing machines, produced the first commercially successful typewriter called "Sholes and Gliden Type-Writer" in the late 1873. It resembles that of a sewing machine with decorative flowers as decal. In fact, it was designed by an artist-mechanic from the Remington sewing machine department. Consequently, the world's first typewriter was mounted on a treadle table with a foot pedal connected by a cable for advancing the paper. The return was located on the floor. The Sholes and Gliden model, wrote capitals only, is the first for introducing the QWERTYT keyboard, which is still used in computer keyboard of today. This layout was developed to slow typing. The typing mechanism of the first model is referred as an "up-strike" design. Pressing on the key swings the type bar up toward the platen. This means that a typist can not see what has just been typed and for this reason the machine is called a "blind-writer." In the first five years of production, only 5,000 machines were sold with a price tag $125 apiece. There was buying resistance to the first typewriters, because poor spellers could no longer hide their ignorance by using slovenly handwriting and businesses thought it to impersonal. Samuel L Clemens, better know as Mark Twain, was probably the first author to submit a typed script to his publisher. He was one of the first to purchase a Sholes & Gliden typewriter.

We have Jim playing with a cat but I did not understand why. Again, we have a woman who tried to kill Jim being courted by the two agents in the end. I do not know if I am correct but I wonder if they dubbed the princesses’ voice. Artie’s entrance into the party is a riot looking more like the Grand Elector, than the Grand Elector. I really enjoy the exchange between Jim and Artie especially the look of amusement that Jim has when asked if he could escape the room with a diversion. That look was worth the entire episode. There are not any great gadgets. There is a bomb but it really is a dud otherwise. Despite all this, I do enjoy this episode. (Shrugs shoulders) I do not know why.

AdorableBlue
SS novice field agent

948 Posts

Posted - 08/28/2003 :  17:59:15  Show Profile  Visit AdorableBlue's Homepage
The eps with James West tied spread-eagle on the ground.....??? Definitely one of Blue's fav scene! .......and that silly gal wants to use him as target practice!

AdorableBlue
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ccb
SS Quizmaster Emeritus

3908 Posts

Posted - 08/28/2003 :  18:31:44  Show Profile
I'll put my oar in the water of this episode later, but for now I must express admiring appreciation of couldron's research into early typewriters. That report is fascinating, teaching me things I never knew. As a kid, our family owned a Remington Rand typewriter for office use, but I had never made the connection between typewriters and guns, even less with sewing machines. Mary: Do you know if a picture of one of the Sholes and Gliden typewriters, with treadle and foot-panel, exists on the web? I'd love to check have a look at it. Many thanks for your careful, informative research.
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couldron
SS novice field agent

1444 Posts

Posted - 08/28/2003 :  19:00:33  Show Profile
http://www.mytypewriter.com/generic.html?pid=21

Gosh I just did a little search and found that information. This is a link to one site I used. If you click on the picture, it will pop up in color.



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ccb
SS Quizmaster Emeritus

3908 Posts

Posted - 08/29/2003 :  15:28:27  Show Profile
IMHO, "Dancing Death" is a weak Freiberger, probably my least favorite. For me, its finest quality is the teaser: dark, suspenseful, surprising. The knife thrown into the impostor's belly may be one of the series' most graphic moments and creates for me a frisson even greater than the arrow into Hugo's back in "The Night of Sudden Death." Why they chose or had to wash out Artemus's reply, "So is she," after the fake princess slumps dead, is a mystery I wish someone could answer.

From there, however, the episode goes practically nowhere—not fast, but slowly. Very slowly. Like paint drying. Like fiddling with a kitty-cat. From his first appearance onscreen, does anyone doubt that Prince Gio is this episode's heavy? The adventure at the riding club offers little more than an excuse to pad Act II. Likewise, Act III strains to cobble up enough material to carry us to the next commercial. The climactic fight in Act IV is not bad but could have been staged and edited more creatively. Despite threatening to beat him to a pulp, Gio never lays a figure on West. Since we know the outcome anyway, what's the point?

For me, the worst part of this episode is the dialogue: there's too much of it, and a lot that's simply inane. Artemus's fawning praise of Gio's prowess, followed by Gio's even more tedious compliments of himself. Mario's poetry: "To touch a doorknob—and taste death!" His secretary's breathtaking explanation of the Comorra: "It is an organization—of criminals!" "I believe in the Comorra. The Comorra is good. All else is evil. To belong to the Comorra, I must talk like a passionate idiot." (When my fourteen-year-old recently watched this scene with me, she asked, "Is that a cult?" I said, "No, honey, that's only bad acting.") Maybe the actress playing the real princess insisted that her lines be badly dubbed: she couldn't stand saying them and didn't want anyone else responsible for them, either. An earky clue that this script was in trouble comes in the Act I credits: One of the main things that television producers do is rewrite other people's scripts. If Freiberger labored over this one so mightily that he felt he deserved onscreen credit, then Mr. Tunberg must have turned in a grade-A turkey.

Besides the teaser, there are some good moments. Harvey Hart's decision to stage Conrad behind a birdcage in the hotel room, suggesting that West was in a trap. The spread-eagle death-trap at the end of Act II is good; for you gals out there, it's probably wonderful. (Ever notice how the Freibergers keep West's bolero jacket buttoned up all the time?) Mary: West's flipping of the cat is intended, I think, to be echoed by the somersaults that West supposedly cuts during his last-act fight. Unless we are meant to admire the varnish car's carpeting, I don't know why we need a minute of this, however. The Grand Elector of Saxony is Martin at his hammy best; for the first time we see West enjoying his partner's antics. A sharper, tighter, more convoluted plot, and a lead villain stronger than Mark Richman (say, Martin Landau) might have rescued this one. For me, "The Dancing Death" remains a Big Bore.

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Elaine
SS 1st assignment - desk job

356 Posts

Posted - 08/29/2003 :  16:09:08  Show Profile
First of all, welcome back ccb. I always enjoy your commentary and this one is no exception. I'm fascinated at how you pick up on those details like West behind the birdcage,etc.


You didn't put your two cents worth in about whether or not you think Marianna is attractive or not. Speaking for only myself, I'd have to say that I don't think she is beautiful like Diane McBain or Lana Wood (to name just 2), but she is rather seductive, don't you think, with those arching eyebrows and that 60's eyeliner? She has a lovely figure ( shown off especially well in that dress from the tag).

This was one of the first episodes I saw when I "rediscovered" Wild Wild West earlier this year. At the time, the plot and the dialogue really didn't matter all that much since I was so entertained by watching RM as AG again and completely distracted from anything whenever RC was on camera half naked or in closeup (I've since calmed down). Like Mary, despite all, I too like this one.

BTW, if Prince Geo is doing Kung Fu, I believe that Conrad is doing Shotokan Karate. I read an article where he said that he studied this form. My nephew was visiting me this summer and I showed him this fight. He has studied Shotokan and he agreed.

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K Mills
SS novice field agent

849 Posts

Posted - 08/29/2003 :  18:57:34  Show Profile
I have to agree that the most irritating thing about this episode is the fight scenes. I'm no expert, but I have participated in Shoto-Ryu, Itosu-Kai, Kempo, Kendo, Iaido, Tae Kwon Do, Judo, Jujitsu (ouch), and um, broke more boards than I can count and I have no idea what that fellow thought he was doing. The very best example of Kung Fu is Jackie Chan in The Drunken Master - good movie, too. Conrad is definitely hard style shotokan karate. He's pretty good, too. I love the fight scene in Green Terror because he cheats! Makes me laugh every time. I give this ep and only because any episode with RC tied up is okay by me. Mary, the typewriter stuff was great!

"I've got a chrome-plated heart."
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ccb
SS Quizmaster Emeritus

3908 Posts

Posted - 09/02/2003 :  22:06:06  Show Profile
Elaine aks: You didn't put your two cents worth in about whether or not you think Marianna is attractive or not. Speaking for only myself, I'd have to say that I don't think she is beautiful like Diane McBain or Lana Wood (to name just 2), but she is rather seductive, don't you think, with those arching eyebrows and that 60's eyeliner? She has a lovely figure (shown off especially well in that dress from the tag).

Thanks for asking. Ilze Taurins (Marianna) and Francoise Ruggieri (Nola) seem to me standard-issue West beauties: lovely, but, by the series' high standards, nothing extraordinary. Of those episodes we have reviewed thus far, my bombshell award would be a toss-up between Leslie Parrish and Diane McBain; la femme thespienne, Joanna Moore; the best combination of beauty and acting, Suzanne Pleshette. To each his own, however; I'm sure there are other guys out there who can weigh in expertly on this one.

K: I'm no expert, but I have participated in Shoto-Ryu, Itosu-Kai, Kempo, Kendo, Iaido, Tae Kwon Do, Judo, Jujitsu (ouch), . . .

You may be no expert, but you know a heck of a lot more about all this than I do. How about drawing up a layman's guide for fisticuffs, Oriental and otherwise, for us gentle, nonviolent couch-potatoes?
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JimPhelps
SS 1st assignment - desk job

USA
417 Posts

Posted - 09/05/2003 :  07:53:48  Show Profile
TNOT Dancing Death

More style over substance “TNOT Dancing Death” is pure comic book fun, a bit of padding, but with a refreshing touch of humanity between our two heroes; unusual for the Frieberger episodes. The plot revolves around the whereabouts of an Albanian princess and the criminal organization behind the crime. The teaser is great moody fun; the ambassador recognizes the fake princess and she is quickly murdered to ensure her silence. The only clue: the initial “C” branded into hand of the imposter and lady in waiting. Yes, I did also notice Ross lips moving before the fade out into the opening credits, I don’t know why it was cut, especially after showing us a knife plunged into the imposter’s stomach, her body language tells us she’s dead, maybe the creators thought it was superfluous dialogue.

The first scene of Act I takes place onboard the Wanderer, Jim is practicing some martial arts moves and Artie enters with a small joke, the next thing surprised me: Jim chuckles, RC is listening and responding to his acting partner, not just cutting to the chase and getting back to business like the Joe Friday of the West. Artie then gives Jim some of his special smoke bombs with “crying” (tear) gas, Jim jokes that when the smoke is released he will turn into Aladdin, It’s a nice moment between the two and this episode has several of them

Good eye on ccb for spotting the birdcage and it’s use in Act I and Act II, the visual act of framing Jim through the birdcage symbolizes the trap being set for him. Although the bomb turns out to be ineffective, it does kill one of the Camora members. The hotel scene also signals a frock coat alert for Jim, he decided to eschew the matador type jacket for a more formal look for his date.

It is of course, no surprise that Prince Gio is behind the plot from the beginning. The only question is: why? We only find out the reason behind the kidnapping at the end of Act III when the real (and oddly looped) princess tells Jim of her father’s plan to disband The Camora Mark Richman makes a physically imposing villain, although I agree the role was tailor made for Martin Landau who would have brought more panache to the part, like he did with the great General Grimm, Richman however, does a good job as an antagonist for the guys.

There’s the odd scene in the train after Jim escapes from the Camora headquarters with Marianna. Jim plays with an itinerant cat and Artie goes outside to investigate a noise, it really doesn’t contribute to the story and it just looks like padding before we get to the main scene of Act III, which is the ball.

Artie’s gate crashing as His Highness the Grand Elector is hysterical but the funniest part is when he just hurls insults at Landgrave (Wolfe Barzell) the poor old guy and makes a pompous jackass of himself. It’s the best part of the entire episode This is the first time Jim expresses delight at one of Artie’s disguises, his previous reaction would be a deep sigh, as if Artie were just getting in the way, this time however, the distraction is planned and Jim uses it to gain access to the princess.

I always found it interesting that a man wearing a suit of armor is waiting in the cellar where the princess is being kept. Was this planned ahead of time? Does he just hang around in the armor waiting for someone to help the princess escape? It doesn’t matter in the end, Jim makes short work of him which leads us to the obligatory battle between the Prince and Jim. I’ve read comments about the use of Kung Fu and other martial arts in this episode, I don’t know the particulars of any of those art forms so the fight looks good enough to me (someone ignorant) if you have knowledge it may distract you or not look as realistic. I honestly can’t tell.

So, overall, a light fun episode, with good camaraderie between the guys, and the ubiquitous Arthur Batanides (as Marius), good commercial break art (but a boring stock shot of the Wanderer for Act IV). A fair effort. Two and a half prosthetic noses out of four.


Mr. Phelps
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ccb
SS Quizmaster Emeritus

3908 Posts

Posted - 09/05/2003 :  08:33:04  Show Profile
I always found it interesting that a man wearing a suit of armor is waiting in the cellar where the princess is being kept. Was this planned ahead of time?

Yes, by the producers. They had to have something melodramatic to end Act III with.

Does he just hang around in the armor waiting for someone to help the princess escape?

It's a living.
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K Mills
SS novice field agent

849 Posts

Posted - 09/05/2003 :  08:43:56  Show Profile
The cat part was actually a little revelant. Jim was trying to figure out how to fight Kung Fu man and thought well, the cat always twists and lands on its feet. Somehow, he then took this to the fight where he flipped and always landed on his feet. Kinda bizarre, but different. RC does turn a nice flip. I do enjoy these episodes reviews.

"I've got a chrome-plated heart."
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JimPhelps
SS 1st assignment - desk job

USA
417 Posts

Posted - 09/08/2003 :  09:49:53  Show Profile

Does he just hang around in the armor waiting for someone to help the princess escape?

It's a living.
[/quote]

Perhaps a low-end member of The Camora

Mr. Phelps
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