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SS novice field agent

1438 Posts

Posted - 09/15/2004 :  12:46:32  Show Profile
The review of the episodes has me seeing them in a different perspective. Case in point is The Night of the Infernal Machines. This is my least favorite upon watching it for this review it was somewhat better than I thought.
I obtained the following information from TV tome

Ed Begley, father of "St. Elsewhere" star Ed Begley, Jr., was a charter cast member of the radio-turned-television soap opera "Guiding Light." He also starred in televised plays like "Twelve Angry Men" and "Inherit the Wind." He appeared with Clint Eastwood in the feature film "Hang 'Em High."
· Will Kuluva starred as Charlie Kingman in the 1971 television series "Primus."
· Jon Lormer appeared in "The Cage," the original pilot episode of "Star Trek." He will return to the West as the second elder in TNOT Spanish Curse, and as the boat man in TNOT Bleak Island.
· John Harman portrayed Eddie Halstead in the TV western "The Rifleman." He also had a role in the 1939 movie serial adventures of "The Green Hornet."
· Michael Pate portrayed Chief Vittoro in the western series "Hondo." He wrote extensively for the Clint Eastwood series "Rawhide."
· It is doubtful that anyone alive has NOT seen or heard character actor Vito Scotti. Scotti portrayed Mr. Velasquez in the short-lived TV series adaptation of Neil Simon's "Barefoot in the Park." He was also a regular in "To Rome, with Love" starring John Forsythe, and as Captain Gaspar in "The Flying Nun." He co-starred with Darren McGavin in the original "Mike Hammer" television series, and was a member of "Andy's Gang." He took the starring role in the television adaptation of the J. Carroll Naish radio comedy "Life with Luigi." A personal friend of Peter Falk's, he appeared in five separate episodes of "Columbo." For Walt Disney, he appeared in "Herbie Goes Bananas," "Herbie Rides Again," "Napoleon and Samantha," "The World's Greatest Athlete," "The Boatniks," and "The Aristocats." He was also a frequent guest castaway on "Gilligan's Island."
· Bill Zuckert portrayed Chief Segal in the short-lived superhero spoof "Captain Nice." He also starred as Arthur Bradwell in "Mr. Novak."
· Although third in the shooting order for season two, CBS wasn't too impressed with the effort. The episode was the fourteenth to air.

It begins in Denver, a popular city for the series, with a conversation between Artie and Jim. We learn that a shipment of dynamite has been stolen and that Artie has taken the disguise as a baker, he can’t cook, to help find it.

It is a nice plot device that we do not know who the mastermind is until the last act.
Ed Begley(Judge M’Guigan) is the third in a row of famous faces making a guest appearance. He won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Sweet Bird of Youth. An exploding ball kills a judge which has Artie complain that the idea was stolen from him. Wasn’t it nice of Jim to interrupt the game. I am sure that Judge M’Guigan (Ed Begley) would have found another way to get the other judge to go first. After the explosion, Jim crawls around on the floor looking for evidence. This scene reminds me of the Columbo series. Columbo’s investigating style was often the amusement of others in the episode. Many times he would crawl around the scene of a murder like we see Jim in this episode. The police remind me of the Keystone Cops. They are inept and easily fooled. I think this is the last time we see the bullet proof vest which Jim demonstrates just before he puts on all his gear. The one thing that I do not like is the dancing girls. I just cannot see the Supreme Court not objecting to a woman in such an undress state. Not scandalous by today’s standard but unheard of at that time. There seems to be much padding in the episode but I will leave that matter to others. The anachronism of the statue of Liberty has been discussed before. Although I changed my mind a little on this episode I still rate it low.

Herr Ostropolyer
SS 1st assignment - desk job

209 Posts

Posted - 09/15/2004 :  16:52:22  Show Profile
Hey Couldron,
This episode really ranks low for me as well. Kinda of Ironic though since I do declare that I am the Herr Ostropolyer. I chose this name because according to Sue Kessler's book RM's favorite disguise was the Herr Ostropoyler disguise and deep down inside I think this is why that disguise was used again marvelously in TNOT Big Blackmail.
This character is truly scrumptious lol, especially when trading insults with Vito Scotti's cook (can't remember the name). And I love how Artie gives the bellboy a hand full of icing as a tip "What do you think I'am one of the customers." lol Many feel that these insults and the continuing feud between the two were nothing more than padding. But I feel that RM made more out of Herr Ostropolyer than what Shimon Wincleberg wrote. I think their scenes were truly add lib, and I feel that this is the magic that makes RM choose this particular character out of all his brilliant disguises as number 1.
Being a huge "Star Trek" and "Lost In Space" fan I'm very surprised that Shimon Wincleberg wrote this one, He has been writing for tv for years from such shows as "Have Gun-Will Travel" all the way up to "Law and Order". His episodes for those other shows were fast paced and never seemed to be "padded". For the "Star Trek" franchise he used the alias S. Barr-David and wrote such jems as "The Galileo Seven" in which Spock is in command of an away team that is stranded on a hostile planet in a shuttlecraft, however the true test of the audience is for them to figure out who is more monstrous the beings that are attacking the craft, or the away team that is attacking Spock and his logical analysis of the situation. He also wrote the 2nd pilot for "Lost in Space" and many of the episodes in that 1st season,(considered the best by critics) which included the popular, but wicked Dr. Zachary Smith and the inflappable Robot, who both did not appear in the first unaired pilot.
Back to WWW, I believe he does return to give us TNOT Samurai, which IMHO was up to his high standard giving us endless plot twits and action in that one. Perhaps he was rushed and really did not get the basic Jim and Artie Dynamic or maybe he played it safe by giving us a very basic down to earth plot. Like you mentioned previously Judge M'Guigan shockingly became the villain in a great plot twist. Sadly, they used a poor plot twist to make Jim fall for the trap. I think that Jim would have known in an instant that the Judge was pretending to be an injured Artie, but then again it adheres to the more human side of West making him more vulnerable and less of a superman.
And another 60's tv fact: Actor Will Kuluva, who played Zeno Baroda, the Anarchist was the first head of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Mr. Allison) before Leo G. Carrol's Mr. Waverly in the unaired pilot, but theatrically filmed U.N.C.L.E. movie "To Trap a Spy". The Execs at NBC watched the pilot and said get rid of the guy whose last name begins with "K". The Producers thought they meant the actor "K"uluva, but in reality they meant the character Illya "K"uryakin and the reast is how they say tv history!!! (wow!)
TNOT Infernal Machine get 2 stars out of 5.
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SS 1st assignment - desk job

393 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2004 :  12:29:59  Show Profile  Visit MonkeeMaven's Homepage
Between the frightening anachronisms and plot holes and the impressive ineptitude of the investigators, it's amusing all the way through... and Artie's character makes it one of my favourite episodes. I'd definitely put it in a list of the Top 100 episodes of www.
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SS 1st assignment - desk job

356 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2004 :  13:20:38  Show Profile
My question is: Why do they keep calling the exploding devices "infernal machines"? Whenever I hear that expression I think of someone's grandpa referring irreverently to those new fangled motor cars that are trying to run his buggy off the road. Oh well.

I say the tall genes must have all been on Mrs. Begely's side of the family. If I recall correctly, Ed Jr. is quite tall, but Ed Sr. is shorter than RC. And while I'm on the subject of the actors - who's girlfriend was Elaine Dunn (Vashti)? When we talk about "padding" the episode, I don't think that was the kind of padding the producers had in mind when they wrote her into the script. All that dialogue about "impeccably good taste and moral uplift" and "anything you do here casts a reflection on...American womanhood itself." Sheesh! More like a reflection on American manhood - sorry guys. Get a load of the leer on the Judge G.'s face! That was truly creepy.

The one scene I really enjoyed from an acting standpoint was Will Kuluva's performance as Zeno Baroda in the clock repair shop. And who doesn't love to see Vito Scotti (the cook)?

There is a continuity error in the scene on the train where Jim is testing the bulletproof vest. When Jim walks to the hidden weapons board, we observe that the vest is backless. While he is at the weapons board we can see from our viewpoint over his shoulder, that he is wearing a vest with a back. Then when the camera cuts back to Jim putting on the weapons-loaded jacket, he is wearing the backless vest again.

All I can say is that overall, this would not be one of my favorite eps, but as Artie said to Jim, referring to his cake, "Maybe it wasn't a total waste."
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SS 1st assignment - desk job

393 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2004 :  18:41:15  Show Profile  Visit MonkeeMaven's Homepage
Elaine, I totally agree with you on that "American womanhood" thing - not that there are many (any?) shows which don't have their share of sexism. (Okay, I'm still fuming about the tale on "E.R." where Carol abandons her life for a total clod.)
Actually dragged out the tape for this one.... Did we already have a discussion here about the difference between pool and billiards? For some reason the chief of police reminded me of Mayor Quimby from "The Simpsons".

I didn't realise that Zeno Baroda was specifically an anarchist - how strong was the anarchist movement at that time? Just yesterday I was reading some of Lysander Spooner's writings and wondered quite what their influence was.
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SS novice field agent

1393 Posts

Posted - 09/20/2004 :  18:26:11  Show Profile  Visit Redhead1617's Homepage
Despite the Statue of Liberty thing & Vashti & how Zeno is working with M'Guigan, I love Artie in this ep, the Herr Osteropolyer character is a hoot when facing off the cook!!!! My mom never really sat in on my nightly West episode with dad, but this one held her in her seat laughing her head off at Artie as Herr O

Just for Artie I give this ep

(aside from Artie )


*sigh...where's MY Ross Martin?
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SS Quizmaster Emeritus

3803 Posts

Posted - 09/24/2004 :  18:45:58  Show Profile
Filled with some fine actors and lots of extras and spectacle on a shoestring, this should have been a better episode than it was. I concur with the emerging consensus that it's among the second season's weak entries. On the series' original run, CBS apparently agreed: Though the third episode produced, it was held for airing until almost Christmas (23 December 1966), when, presumably, they expected few viewers to be watching.

In its favor are Ed Begley, a fine actor playing an incompetent if murderous judge. Any episode featuring Vito Scotti (as the volatile clown, Señor Cefalu) gets points in my book: He was a delightful character actor who turned even the drabbest of the hundreds of bit parts he played into gold. (As someone once said, wisely, "There are no small parts, only small actors.") The teaser sets up a nifty, literally explosive, little mystery. The climax, with West saving the day on a trapeze with a seltzer-bottle, is fun. And in one of his great starring turns, Ross Martin lends most of the comedy to what is essentially a comic episode.

The problems, however, are many. For one thing, the nifty mystery goes nowhere in a hurry. Long before Act IV, most viewers are going to have figured out whodunit. (If you've seen any of the episodes of Have Gun–Will Travel penned by Shimon Wincelberg, you'll have figured out not only that the guest star is the culprit but also that "the girl" is in on it, too. See also "The Night of the Samurai," in West's third season.) The plot gapes with holes. For instance: The last man in the billiard room was the servant (Michael Pate). Why wasn't he immediately apprehended? When he made a direct assault on West in Act I, why wasn't he run to earth then, instead of moseying around, waiting to be killed? When he is killed, at the end of Act II, we hear a pistol shot. But how could he have been plugged from out of nowhere, from a hotel window at such a distance? And why not kill West instead of, or alongside, the rat? What are we to make of the accidental discovery of the crate of dynamite in Act II. That goes nowhere, and leads one to wonder how M'Guigan could still have had enough explosive leftover for the finale? In Act III Baroda repeatedly shoots through a hotel door. Why don't the police apprehend him then, instead of waiting for Baroda to turn himself in? In Act IV, as already mentioned, how could West have been fooled into thinking that a much heavier-set "chef" was his partner? And on and on.

Speaking of things that lead nowhere: Baroda is obviously intended to be a Jewish jeweler, and towards the end of the nineteenth century there was rampant, if largely unfounded, fear of Jewish anarchists. (Think Muslims in our own day.) But that point is never developed, beyond frequent, coded references to "anarchists." On reflection, we're intended (I guess) to infer that the Michael Pate character, Bledsoe—whose name is dropped only in the closing credits—was hired by Baroda to kill the man who was blackmailing him. But that's never spelled out, either. The overall impression is that we're watching either a show made from a first-draft script that never got polished before being rushed into production or that a lot of necessary exposition was left on the cutting-room floor.

Sherman Marks's direction is lackluster. (He was never invited back.) Conrad is as wooden as as the early first season. (He was invited back.)

Like some other entries in the series, this is an episode that never decided whether to be a mystery or a comedy. The mystery isn't mysterious enough, only confusing, and the comedy isn't witty enough. Maybe if Gene Coon hadn't signed aboard the Starship Enterprise he could have punched this one up enough. But he did, he couldn't, and it isn't. (Though there is one good line: West's defensive "It was either your cake or my reputation.")

Wincelberg does play some inside jokes with names, especially for Jewish viewers. "Vashti" is a character from the Book of Esther: a Persian queen who, by refusing to participate in a beauty contest, threatened to destabilize an empire. And "Bulvon" is a Yiddish word for a thick-headed, thin-skinned dolt.

A botched job, overall, just like M'Guigan's pointless plot. But for the production design, Markowitz's score (whose cues were reused throughout the second season), and performances by Martin and Scotti, I'll generously give this one

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SS novice field agent

744 Posts

Posted - 10/23/2004 :  09:01:11  Show Profile
Yeah, but Baroda's exchange with West about the West's proposal to have Baroda kill his wife's lover is memorable and deadly serious.
Baroda's line of "He who loses a wife and a nickel has lost a nickel" is offensive but very quotable.
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SS Quizmaster Emeritus

3803 Posts

Posted - 10/25/2004 :  18:45:22  Show Profile
beerbad: Baroda's line of "He who loses a wife and a nickel has lost a nickel" is offensive but very quotable.

"The Infernal Machine"'s scriptwriter must have thought so. One night while watching a vintage episode of Have Gun—Will Travel, I was surprised to hear one of its characters utter the very same nugget of misogynist wisdom. You guessed it: That episode was also written by Shimon Wincelberg.
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SS 1st assignment - desk job

417 Posts

Posted - 12/04/2004 :  20:39:17  Show Profile
You know, I have seen “Have Gun – Will Travel” on sale at my local mega- store. It’s spoken of so highly here that I know I’m going to buy that DVD pack one day to see what all the fuss is about. Everything I’ve heard about the show is excellent.
I’m in the process of completing the review for this episode. I need a few more days to catch up.

Mr. Phelps
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