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 The Night of the Sudden Plague
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SS novice field agent

759 Posts

Posted - 04/10/2004 :  09:11:51  Show Profile
Murderous Spring and Burning Diamond are so good that we had little to say about them, so I thought I would start us on Sudden Plague.

The teaser with the frozen townfolk reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode "Still Valley". Also, Burning Diamond has frozen folk. Any other shows that you can think of that uses this plot device?

Theo Marcuse may be underrated as a WWW villian. He appeared once in each of the first three seasons, this one, Bottomless Pit and Headless Woman. His portrayal here of a doctor who has lost his mind from grieving over his wife is good. His wife was killed by a Chinese emperor because the good doctor could not save emperor's kin. Like Loveless, this earns him our sympathy and makes him a more interesting villian.

SS novice field agent

1444 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2004 :  11:46:58  Show Profile

We are finally at the end of season one. This episode was promising and has so many good things in it that I wonder why I am negative about it. This first thing that caught my ear when watching it to do this review was Artie’s comment about the people of the town being stoned. A term used to denote drug usage a term not in use at the time of Artie and Jim. The pompous Governor Hawthorne is well played by Elliott Reid. It must have been hard on James to put up with him but a delight to us watching. I like the line JW says as he is hiding in the room with the animals “I know how you feel I’m in the same fix”

The heavy, Dr. Kirby (Theo Marcuse), is presented as sympathetic even Jim is moved to pity and his intent is not to put him in jail but to get him help very, progressive of him.

Like Vipers Jim drops in on the gang of thieves. I like how the escape is filmed. I do wonder why the guy on the wall was such a bad shot. O.K. I know why. It was clever I thought that they chase Jim and get Artie. Artie has a great line “ show a little respect I could be your great uncle”

I would like this episode better if they had been clearer why Dr. Kirby’s hair is pulled off. This part bothers me so much that it really mars the rest of a good episode.

Next time we have the first color episode.

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SS 1st assignment - desk job

356 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2004 :  21:31:35  Show Profile
Just a few things that I noticed in this one:

Jim is pretty serious throughout this ep, while Artie seems to have a number of amusing wisecracks. Jim really is impertinent with the pompous governor. It kind of surprised me. I loved the scene where Jim shaves the governor. I bet it was intentional that Moore shot from the angle that captures Jim's adorably dimpled almost sweet looking face contrasting so closely with the steely way he handles the razor and the tone of his voice. Talk about "in your face".

This ep has my personal favorite fight scene. The short ruckas at the top of act II is sheer precision. I have run it over and over, impressed by the way everyone moves.

Nobu McCarthy (Anna) is lovely and a good actress. When she tells Jim her sad story, her lower lip actually trembles!

I also did not understand the wig, beard,and mustache removal. It almost seems like there was more to it, but that part of the story was cut for some reason, and this "revelation" was left in, albeit unexplained.

Finally, I have to mention, that when Jim throws the lantern to burn down the lab and all the germs, he also burns all the animals alive.

Not a bad ep. Not a great ep.
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K Mills
SS novice field agent

849 Posts

Posted - 04/30/2004 :  09:32:45  Show Profile
I agree with Elaine on most of this. THe expression on Artemus' face when they lift his head is priceless. For some unknown reason the woman in this story leaves me cold, but that's just me. Did anyone notice the prop error? In the first picnic scene the basket is much smaller, I believe, they used two baskets, one for her scene, and one with Artemus. Why? WHo know?? My husband, something of an expert in doors always watches the door cutout kickout scene. He seems to think that you just couldn't do that. And yes, Jim is at his snarly best with the governor. THere were a lot of nice actors in this one, they didn't invest all their time in Theo - I liked the head baddie with the black leather gloves. Menacing! I give it -
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SS Quizmaster Emeritus

3908 Posts

Posted - 05/06/2004 :  20:10:15  Show Profile
Having just commented on "The Burning Diamond," I turn from the sublime to, well, the not-so-sublime.

Ken Kolb, who wrote the script for "Sudden Plague," called this one of his "ship-in-a-bottle" stories for Mike Garrison: It looks like a big show, until you back up and notice that there's very little to see. Unfortunately, I don't think it even appears to be "a big show." When I step back from it, there's even less to appreciate.

The basic problem is that there's really very little story here. It's the premise of Kolb's "Burning Diamond" turned inside out: Instead of human beings being speeded up, they are being slowed down to paralysis. Visually, that not a thrilling idea, to say the least. Whereas you had to watch 30 minutes of "The Burning Diamond" before its mystery was revealed, we pretty much know the solution to the problem in the first few minutes of Act I. So there's little of interest to keep us watching.

It's at this point that, if you're producing The Wild Wild West, you have to do one of three things, or some combination thereof:

1. Hire a terrific cast. Treat the audience to watching them interact, or chew scenery. The perfomances in "Sudden Plague" are competent, but clearly there are no Emmy-contenders here. They probably ran out of money. So, move to

2. Generate artificial tension in a boring stroyline. This they did: West is supposedly under the thumb of a loutish governor, rather than able to report directly to President Grant. (This doesn't work.) The outlaws are at each other's throats: Rodman against Frank (the thief), the band against Dr. Kirby. Daughter betrays father. Since we don't know or care about these figures very much, it's all a big snore. So, high-tail it to

3. Create lots of pointlss action: people running in circles, going nowhere very fast. This, too, they did. Boy, is it repetitious. Two visits to the governor's office (one would have done nicely, thanks). West's two trips to the gang's fortress. Three interrupted poker games. A needless visit by Artemus to the doctor's lab. Kids: Can you spell P-A-D-D-I-N-G?

Not the happiest show to end the season with, but hardly the worst. I'll give this one , knowing that, when Mary averages things up, it'll come out at 2 and 1/2, which is about right.
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SS novice field agent

1444 Posts

Posted - 05/07/2004 :  09:46:46  Show Profile
Thanks ccb for doing the math for me.
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SS 1st assignment - desk job

417 Posts

Posted - 05/28/2004 :  13:20:56  Show Profile
TNOT Sudden Plague
Airdate-2 April 1966

“I’ve heard of people being stoned but this is ridiculous”

It’s the end of a long and turbulent season. The cast and crew are exhausted and it shows. Although the idea of a germ that temporarily paralyses entire populations seems promising the execution leaves something to be desired. This is too bad since from the teaser it’s clear that Ross and RC have become comfortable with each other, Artie’s crack when he enters the saloon seems a sly wink at the counter culture of the times. Unfortunately the story seems rather “stoned” at times, elements are unfocused and too loose, the pacing uneven.

I suppose my first question was: “Why is Dr Kirby using such a genius idea in such a lackluster way?” Coley and his gang are small potato cutthroats too stupid to realize the potential of Dr Kirby’s germ. They spend their time robbing small town banks. How about an attack on the US Mint in Denver? ‘Kirby and Coley’ is an odd match to say the least, I can’t even figure out how their paths crossed. Kirby doesn’t really need them to carry out his plans, even if it’s just robbing banks, it only takes one person to poison the town well, and after everybody is frozen, one person or two to collect the money. The gang basically exists to provide some kind of wildcard and as filler materiel.

Speaking of filler materiel there seems to be plenty. A lot of Act I is Jim sneaking around the gang’s hideout (John Brown’s old place) in fact there seems to be an awful lot of sneaking around the hideout in this episode, in poor day-for-night photography. Perhaps some of this time could have been used to explain to us just how exactly Kirby was able to design the germ to work so quickly. Everyone who’s frozen seems caught in the middle of whatever it was they were doing at the time, not as if an epidemic had broken out. And of course, even though the entire town drinks out of the same well, different people drink at different rates. Wouldn’t the people who drink more water get freeze first? Maybe not, perhaps they (the germs) are designed that well. Dr Kirby is brilliant beyond the 21st Century, which is what drives me crazy about this episode because it seems like a good idea wasted. .

No disguise for Artie this week but, RM is in good form full of caustic wit and wry remarks throughout the entire episode. His line deliveries are all great even in the tag the way he delivers the line “How could we forget John Chang?” very funny. Other than that Artie doesn’t have much to do, he’s non-existent for Act II until the end when he is mistaken for Jim. Then he’s tied to a table and threatened by Coley for awhile but that doesn’t go anywhere.

Unfortunately two West regular supporting villains H.M Wynant (has he ever played a good guy?) and all around real life good guy Robert Phillips are wasted in their roles; the real menace both actors are able to convey is not utilized at all. Only a stock scene in which Coley dispatches Doyle for skimming profits, (it’s been repeated in a thousand “standard westerns”), hints at the two actor’s potential; compare to the great scene between Ed Asner and Kevin Hagen in TNOT Amnesiac.

Theo Marcuse is good in the role of a man crazed by grief. Dr Kirby has all the motivations for an evil genius just no proper outlet. He was always a great guest on TV during the sixties; I like his appearances on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Star Trek. There’s some interesting back story and a sensitive portrayal of Anna from the late Nobu McCarthy.

Sadly, this is the final black and white episode so this is our last daguerreotype style storyboard artwork. That’s too bad because it’s my absolute favorite although the others have their own charm as well. It’s mostly a series of close-ups: Jim for Act I, Artie for II (“We got him.”), The main guest Theo Marcuse (I’m in the dark about the whole wig and beard removal myself), and for the final act we see that the producers have finally taken my advice and not cut away to a stock shot of the Wanderer, instead we have a very nice shot of our heroes enjoying champagne with Anna. Classy.

So overall good idea, anemic execution, however, very few series have a first season with so many classics. I can only give it one and a half prosthetic noses out of four, time for cast and crew to go on vacation.

Mr. Phelps
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