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couldron
SS novice field agent

1438 Posts

Posted - 03/03/2004 :  06:01:38  Show Profile
This episode is special to me since it was the only episode I had for about 15 years. It was on audio tape and I didn’t record all of the episode. I didn’t like the part with the brains so I left it out. This was before Vhs was affordable

In this episode, we learn that the Senate surveillance and Operation Committee oversee the Secret Service Agency. I wonder if there is or ever was such a committee?

Jim visits his old professor of Archeology (Jim studied Archeology). Who promptly dies after hinting to Jim of an evil plot.

Don Rickles is terrific as the evil Asmodeus (The name of the demon mentioned in the Book of Tobias (iii, 8). The name is most probably derived from the Hebrew root meaning "to destroy"). He is of course only the front for the true headman the “good” Dr.Tristram who uses Astarte to lure his victims to their death. Ann Elder “Astarte” replaced Goldie Hawn when she left "Laugh-In". After three years on the show, she returned to comedy writing, winning Emmys for Lily Tomlin specials in 1973 and 1975. She is so small. I guess she met the requirements for height.

The idea of bodiless brains that are able to think and strike out is totally bizarre. Speaking of the bizarre, I thought Artie being rash was a reversal of character. There was Artie pressing foreword with Jim trying to hold him back. It should have been the other way around.

Despite that, the espisode ranks a


beerbad
SS novice field agent

684 Posts

Posted - 03/06/2004 :  05:02:28  Show Profile
I can't say I much like the Rickles character. It's just a matter of taste but it seems to me Rickles always had a chip on his shoulder and it translated to his charcter. And, there were no jokes to make it a little more palatable.

Good asides though, Mary. I didn't know Astarte was on Laugh-In.
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Elaine
SS 1st assignment - desk job

356 Posts

Posted - 03/06/2004 :  11:59:12  Show Profile
Since we have just come off a WWW/ST quiz, I should point out that this ep is directed by Ralph Senensky. When I first saw it, it reminded me of the ST ep "Return to Tomorrow". In that story, the last three remaining beings of a destroyed civilization have preserved their minds in spheres. That ep was also directed by Mr. Senensky. I imagine it is just one of those weird coincidences, except that Jim West gives a very Jim Kirk type of pep talk to the disembodied brains at the end of the ep to get them to revolt.

And now on to a few unrelated comments. Not exactly a review.

I like finding out that Jim studied archeology. It reminds us that he is not all brawn, but he does indeed have a very good brain. It is something that is inferred from time to time, but we tend to overlook it because he spends so much time being physical in his job. He must also have been a good student, for Prof. Robey to remain in contact with him all these years. I think it reveals a sentimental side to Jim that we see infrequently. He truly considers the elderly man as a friend (they still write to one another). It gives his character depth.

I'm with Beerbad about Don Rickles. As I recall, that was the essence of his comedy routine as well. It seemed like he was always so angry. I don't think he was a very good actor. He delivers his lines stiffly. I could never forget that I was watching Don Rickles. The fight scene with Jim was ridiculous. No challenge. They didn't have to have poor Artie chained to the wall. Jim could have taken Asmodeus with one hand tied behind his back. Say, maybe Artie should have fought him! Poor Artie. "Glad to have been of so much help," he says sheepishly. The story of his character's life. But just wait until TNOT Bogus Bandits when Artie selflessly throws himself onto the electrical circuits!

And doesn't Sen. Waterford fit the stereotype of the self-important politician? This man has such an inflated ego that he never-the-less invites Jim to dinner even though it is clear that his wife is flirting shamelessly with our hero.

Re: the chant. I listened for RM's voice and I heard it.

In the tag: Is Artie using Jim's magic kit from TNOT Casual Killer? And really, couldn't they have found a more beautiful woman to come out of the box? What did they do? Grab just anyone off the lot? The director's sister-in-law? Someone's secretary? The script girl?

As usual, I'm not very adept at the rating game, but to me this one is just OK. But it is WWW, so

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couldron
SS novice field agent

1438 Posts

Posted - 03/06/2004 :  12:32:00  Show Profile
quote:
As usual, I'm not very adept at the rating game, but to me this one is just OK.


Not many of us are but we are passionate and that is why I enjoy the opinons of others. I just wish more would give us their reasons, not so much of a review, as to what they like and don't like about the episode.

I never thought about how much this episode was like st and yes that was a very Kirk like thing to do.

I didn't mention the ending but I guess there had to be one. It could have been a tag to any of the episodes.
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n/a
deleted

49 Posts

Posted - 03/06/2004 :  17:01:02  Show Profile
LOL...as a kid I would audio tape episodes of Star Trek on my cassette player and I even snuck it into a movie theater and audio taped much of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The dialogue I could recite at the drop of a hat is what caught me a husband!

Geek Girl dating tips #1....guys seem to love a girl that memorizes their favorite movie or TV lines.....

The MarchHare !!O*
http://www.geocities.com/marchhare001/index.html
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ccb
SS Quizmaster Emeritus

3799 Posts

Posted - 03/07/2004 :  18:27:33  Show Profile
"The Druid's Blood" evokes from me a mixed review. Whether we have Henry Sharp or Kevin De Courcey to thank for it, the basic idea—the murder of extrarodinary scientists in order to steal, keep alive, and embezzle their brains—is a humdinger. It's a nice riff on one of the truly great-awful B-horror movies of the 1950s, Donovan's Brain. Four episodes before the introduction of Count Manzeppi, it's a sinister touch to have, as the front heavy, a truly wicked wizard, in cahoots with the devil's own handmaiden. And it's a nice twist at the end to have the real heavy exposed as a minor, comic character from Acts I and II.

Speaking of the ending: As in "The Night of the Howling Light," Sharp gives us another example of his preference for having West outwit, finally not outfight, his adversary. From the Craig Reid Cinefantastique interview, elsewhere on this site, Sharp is quoted: ". . . It's possible to devise scenes that are not so much violence as a clever way of getting around and defeating the villain facing you. Bob didn't like giving up his fight scenes and thought this is what he did well and wanted to continue doing it. But as much as possible I tried to devise methods and shticks where he could defeat odds against him not with his fists but with clever ways if undermining the opposition." In my view, Conrad did a better acting job of tipping the odds in his favor in the conclusion of "The Howling Light." But, in fairness to RC, and paraphrasing a point he made elsewhere, it's a bit hard to imagine even Sir Laurence Olivier cheerleading bowls of brains into turning on their tormentor.

Other nice touches in "The Druid's Blood": I like the rudimentary backstory of West's having gone to college and his genuine grief over witnessing a beloved teacher's grisly death. (The teaser of this episode is one of the things I like most about it.) Ralph Senensky does a nice job of staging scenes. Look, for instance, only at Act I: the decision to "flop cut" from West's car to the senator's drawing room, so that the butler finishes the colonel's exposition; West's unexplained, and inexplicable, disappearance from the villain's hansom cab, when captured outside the senator's house; the nifty lap-dissolve from the wheels of the ambulance, carrying West's bandaged double, to the wheels of the gurney on which the hospital attendants wheel him in. The cemetery in Act II is appropriately dense with fog and spooky lighting, though I think all the actors could have been directed to show more revulsion when Kempley's coffin is opened. (It's one thing to be stalwart, but the smell should have caused somebody at least to lose his footing.) And the Act IV standoff—among West, Astarte, and Waterford—is tense and nicely handled. Who's going to die first, and how—with a bullet or by fire? And will the idiot senator come to his senses? West's little aphorism about spiders and snapping turtles and dancing minuets from the highest gallows—a Gene Coon contribution, I'd bet—is appropriately weird for a weird little episode, unexpectedly poetic of our Mr. West. While agreeing that the date Artemus produces for his partner in the tag is hardly up to West's high standards of bodaciousness, I disagree that the tag itself is irrelevant to what's preceeded: after all, a lot of the show has been about black magic. And the sentamentalist in me has to love the very first appearance of West's great projectile-pail escape—even if our resident physicist, Ms. Sabo, has demonstrated that the bucket contained more hooey than explosive.

So what's not to like? For me, the script and its execution is great, up through the beginning of Act II (with Gordon's worry at the hospital bed). Then things begin to plummet in a hurry. The exposition from West in the villain's lair, followed by his transportation back to the senator's place, then back to the boys at the train is choppy and confusing. (For example, Ross Martin has been asked to play those last two scenes as though he's both s*ckered by the charade and wise to the ruse, based on all that research he's been doing.) Why is it that all these scientists, who have been dropping dead hither and yon, all end up buried in Graveyard Central, AKA Brains R Us? Why is the villains' lair in the cemetary? Okay, if your business is stealing buried brains, I guess that's handy. But crypt-moaning at the end of Act II: Is it an accident that West and Artemus hear it, or did the villains use it to draw them in? But how did the bad guys know the agents would be there in the middle of the night, doing their own gravedigging? I guess we're supposed to be so hooked by a witches' sabbath in a mausoleum, the better to lure us back after a station break, that we're not supposed to pay much attention to logic.

Act III is a multiple letdown: Who are all those "lovers of the occult" that visit Asmodeus's Nightclub of dummies and chanting? Maybe they're leftover, homeless Camora members from "The Dancing Death," who haven't anything better to do on Tuesday nights. And who's that guy that West fights to the death? He's a stunt-double who looks nothing like Don Rickles (whose mustache, by the way, is a whisker away from dropping off his lip after he clobbers West in Act II). Notice, too, the beginning of the Act III fight, when West races to the altar to grab a scimitar from the wall: His heels skid, and he almost lands on his pear-shaped keester. Poor Ross Martin has practically nothing to do in the last half-hour, except make lame jokes (Coon must've been tired, or redrafting his "Freebooters" episode for next week), chain himself to a wall, then get himself shocked stupid for almost the rest of the show. The brains don't look to me like brains at all but, rather, what I'm guessing they actually were: twisty neon lights in agitated water. The optical effect of the lightning bolt settingTristam afire is subpar; again, I guess we're expected to pay attention elsewhere (the laboratory fireworks after the meeting of the minds).

As I've typed all this out, I've mentally flash-forwarded to Senensky's other episode for the series, "The Big Blast." Remember "Druid's" set-pieces. You'll see a surprising lot of them again about eight episodes down the road.

On balance, I'll give this missed opportunity an appropriately Mephistophelean : An intriguing idea that, with more effort, could have been genuinely more mysterious and a lot creepier. But they can't all be doozies—and I'm sure that poor devil Gene Coon was peddling just as fast as he could.
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K Mills
SS novice field agent

849 Posts

Posted - 03/08/2004 :  04:32:19  Show Profile
They did too little with too much, but the train scene where Jim is packing is very nicely done.
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JimPhelps
SS 1st assignment - desk job

USA
417 Posts

Posted - 03/17/2004 :  04:51:06  Show Profile
TNOT Druid’s Blood
I have to admit that during my introduction to WWW in my preteen years I did not care so much for this episode. It lacks the gadgetry and fighting which would normally get a 12 year old boy’s attention. However, looking back 18 years later and with an appreciation for old time B sci-fi flicks this episode is mysterious fun,(with a real mystery) the final Act in Dr. Tristam’s lair is almost an homage to those B grade movies of the fifties. But, let’s go to the beginning.

I don’t know if I am 100% sure but this may be the first episode where Jim is driven more by a need for vengeance than justice. There have been others in past episodes who have been “close friends” with Jim and are quickly, unceremoniously, dispatched (Captain Jackson from TNOT Deadly Bed comes to mind), but Professor Robey is an innocent, harmless man, uninvolved in espionage, killed in a horrible way. This puts Jim in a vendetta mode. Jim’s grim determination is more evident here than ever before, there is not even a pretense with Astarte/Lilith, he lets his venom for her spill the first time they are alone together in the garden. Because she basically controls Senator Waterford, who can control Jim’s career, Astarte is a major danger. She never makes a direct threat to Jim but her wicked nature is clear, Astarte is a real witch with a “b”.

It’s interesting when going over the cast this week that two of the guest players are known for comedy and Rhys Williams, a great character actor from the Hollywood golden days his many classic film appearances include How Green Was My Valley and Mrs. Miniver with Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon (a personal favorite). Although these actors are known for lighter roles this is perhaps the most morbid episode of the entire season. I’ve noticed on the message board that many people do not care for Don Rickles in this episode. I must put my vote with the minority; I like Don Rickles as Asmodeus, he brings a smarmy quality to the seedy second rate magician that makes the character work.

There a lots of nice mysterious and creepy touches to this episode. Jim’s strange disappearance from the carriage, the faux Jim West in the hospital, Jim’s bizarre experience at the “witches Sabbath” where we get to see the “old-rocket-in-the-bucket-trick” a trademark of the series used at least once every season, a nice touch from the cinematographer when Jim is in the pit, we can see the “waves” of heat playing over everything.

Even though this is another Jim-centric episode it’s not like the early days, Jim does not dismiss Artie but the two are definitely partners and it is Artie who discovers the pattern in the mysterious deaths of the intelligencia, he dubs it “Operation: Brain Drain”. A very good theory and close to the truth but missing the bizarre twist. Although I wonder, it may be possible to overlook Astarte and Asmodeous in each instance since they have the ability to make aliases but it should have raised an eyebrow that all of these men are buried in the same cemetery!

The graveyard scene towards the end of Act II is appropriately creepy with lots of thick fog; I agree with ccb that the actors should have displayed more reaction upon opening up the coffin of a man who had been dead for months. That is not a pleasant experience; however 1960’s television standards probably thought that a very strong reaction would be too gruesome for early evening television. (I believe the show was aired at 7:30 PM, officially before “prime time”).

The bulk of the last two acts takes place inside the mausoleum which contains witch’s Sabbath, and the pit Jim woke up in earlier. The devil worshippers are revealed to be dummies (and one of those chanting on the phonograph sounds suspiciously like a Mr. Ross Martin), except for Asmodeus. There’s some question as to whether the guys just stumbled upon the secret hideout or if they were expected. I go with the latter since Asmodeus is disguised as one of the mannequins and seems to be waiting for Jim and Artie to show up.

After a fight (Mr. Rickles is certainly no match for Mr. Conrad) Asmodeus is dead and the “comic relief” Dr. Tristam is revealed to be the true evil behind this mystery. It is out-of-character for Artie to act so impetuously towards Dr Tristam and he is stunned into unconsciousness.

When the doctor reveals his scheme it is one of the most ghoulish of the series, Dr Faustina’s exploding cadavers are a close second. Leaving the disembodied brains alive reminded me of Rene Descartes and his famous quote “I think, therefore I am.” Descartes put forward the notion that we may just be a disembodied brain and everything we see, hear, touch, taste, and feel may be the result of a “mad scientist” (like Dr. Tristam) stimulating our brains into believing what we are experiencing. His point is that we can never be 100% sure of the reality of anything we experience except our own thoughts. I just found that interesting, I don’t think the writers were thinking about Descartes however, instead their focus seems to be on the sci-fi movies of the fifties. Dr Tristam's device is straight out of one of those movies, humming and jumping with electrical sparks, bits and pieces of this device turn up during the course of the series as Dr Faustina’s equipment and Dr Loveless’ inter-dimensional travel machine.

It is appropriate that Gene Coon produced this episode, like the previous one (TNOT Two Legged Buffalo) Jim defeats his enemy with his wits and gives a Captain Kirk-like pep talk to the brains, encouraging them to strike one massive blow at their tormentor and be free. I can easily imagine William Shatner giving the exact same speech, with a bit more of a dramatic flair, of course. When things go haywire Dr. Tristam is killed by fire like Professor Roby, a fitting end to a nasty gruesome man.

After the end of Tristam we go full circle to the Senator’s garden with Astarte. This time the tables are turned when Jim informs her that Tristam and Asmodeus are dead, she desperately tries to fool Waterford into shooting Jim, and the stubborn fool almost does it. Jim is too quick however and is able to wrap Astarte in the deadly cape forcing her to reveal her true nature. When the Senator abandons Astarte into Jim’s custody he takes great professional pride in placing her under arrest. As a side note, Jim should be able to call in a favor or two from the Senator.

The tag is cute and keeps with the theme of “magic” as Artie practices several standards and in the end produces Jim’s date. The final shot for Act IV is the standard Wanderer pulling away, the other cells are very good and diverse: there’s the shot of the ersatz West in the hospital for Act I, Artie gingerly walking into the mausoleum at the end of Act II, and the mastermind Dr. Tristam behind his desk at the end of Act III.

So overall, I would have liked more Artie action and we are getting close to the end of the season so the tight budget is beginning to show, however some good performances and a clever hook in the story make this one slightly above average: two and a half prosthetic noses out of four.












Mr. Phelps
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