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 Review The Night of the Eccentrics
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couldron
SS novice field agent

1438 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2004 :  19:46:01  Show Profile


This episode is special to me. I am one of the few who actually saw the first runs of www. However, I only remember seeing this one and cheering that we had another recurring villain. Sadly, this was not to be. We only see Count Manzeppi one more time.

It was fun watching this episode. I saw many things I hadn’t before. We see two items that were in a black and white episode that were connected to Dr. Loveless. Another item that figured prominently in a riddle in another episode.

I was annoyed at the loosely translated flyer. It was very loosely translated as “For a joyous and happy time visit the Echo Amusement Park” K I think you are more versed in Spanish so correct me but I read it as saying Forget your troubles in the Echo Park and than the words Alegra, Felicidad, and Risa which can be translated as happiness, cheerup, and laugh. Picky picky!

Jim of course goes to this customer less park and finds one of the most chilling villains. If the Count hadn’t of had some humor, he would have been a very dark character. In Druid’s Blood we have a flirtation with black magic this episode is an out and out love affair. The humor softens it as when the Count pays tribute to the very popular Elizabeth Montgomery’s Bewitched.

Manzeppi has no mercy or forgivness as seen in the killing of his own man. Jim watches the unarmed man gunned down with a blink of his eyes when the gun is fired. The only emotion expressed. It was more effective than a verbal protest would have been.

This episode was chosen as the season opener and the first we see of the fireplace exit.

Artie did a great job of fooling Jim and the audience. Was Ross Martin really hurt? Robert Conrad looks like he may of hurt his arm in that slide. I had a lot of fun slow motioning the knives popping out of the wall.

One other piece of acting that I like in this episode is the reaction of RC to the Count’s change of plan on the train.

As I said, I am prejudice about this episode.

Desert Roger
SS novice field agent

4348 Posts

Posted - 10/22/2004 :  07:11:01  Show Profile  Visit Desert Roger's Homepage
A fun episode and one of my all time favorites.

Back in March 1997 I went down to Fort Rucker, Alabama for a tough 4 week course called the Warrant Officer Candidate Course and Eccentrics was on the television in the day room on my first day there and was the last episode of TWWW I saw, or any television that I saw, until the course was over.

Too bad Manzeppi only came back one more time. If the show went on another year it would of been interesting to see Manzeppi and Loveless team up against West and Gordon.

Good music in Eccentrics. Good opening scene.
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Herr Ostropolyer
SS 1st assignment - desk job

USA
209 Posts

Posted - 10/23/2004 :  11:52:50  Show Profile
Hey All,
This is one of my all time favorite Wests. Victor Buono is superb here and dare I say it, even better than his King Tut Character from Batman. I felt that Richard Pryor's Villar is a little bit of a let down as far as the Eccentrics goes, maybe if Julio shot out a flame from his mouth (like a flamethrower), or if Vilar was able to read men's minds he maybe more of a threat. The one liner's in this episode alone are killers. "Mr. West, you almost made me lose my temper!" to Jim West's deadpan respone "Is that bad?" (Priceless). I love how Jim doesn't see through Artie's Mexican soldier disguise. The only thing that I dislike about this episode are the harsh reviews that tv critics gave it as the season opener of the series. "We are Suprised that they did not throw in the perverbial Kitchen sink...Manzeppi is no Dr, Loveless as the series tries to get another recurring villain." I'm sorry all of you Dr. Loveless fans, but Manzeppi was a breath of fresh air. I could never imagine his two stints as Loveless episodes. Loveless had a dynamic in which he had total vengeance toward the world, and maybe if Loveless could shrink the rest of the world to look up to him, he would no longer be a threat, while Manzeppi on the other hand delights in everything that is wicked and blasphemous. Manzeppi is evil incarnate, but with a twinkle in his eye that promises he is not pure darkness, Like Azmadeus, but more of super villain with a flare for rhe occult, who just happens to dabble with darkness.
This episode and his last TNOT Feathery Fury are true gems.
5 stars out of 5
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K Mills
SS novice field agent

849 Posts

Posted - 10/23/2004 :  12:29:53  Show Profile
One interesting thing - after seeing Young Dillinger - I think Victor Buono basically played the same character in both. Also, the fellow looked huge next to RC with no lifts. This is one of my favorite episodes, sometimes I'm not sure why. The Spanish is translated loosely, but (shrug) The hanging scene with Artemus was well-done. That was good shooting! I agree with Mary - RC looked like he hit the ground much harder than expected. I don't think Ross Martin was hurt because that seems to be his double hanging and dropping. Is this the episode with that dreadful suit on Jim?? I think it is. That style looks good on Artemus, but not Jim. He looked like he was playing dress up. I'll give this one - and a half.
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Elaine
SS 1st assignment - desk job

356 Posts

Posted - 10/23/2004 :  21:03:20  Show Profile
This episode belongs to Victor Buono as Count Manzeppi. He dominates the ep in every way.

Physically, he is (was) a large person. He towers over the other actors, and with his girth, even the muscular Titan seems small compared to the Count. In the scene where Tony first throws knives at Jim, the Count requires two chairs placed side by side to accommodate himself.

He has the most dialogue. Writer Charles Bennett has given him long-winded speeches full of wonderfully worded phrases. These just roll off his tongue in that melodius, English-accented voice. By contrast, Jim spends the episode replying mainly with one-liners. In comparison, they seem even shorter and more dead-pan than Jim's usual terse replies.

Victor Buono's characters always have a presence. K referred to his role in Young Dillinger which I saw, coincidentally, earlier today. In it he plays a criminal mastermind called "the Professor". (RC's character, Pretty Boy Floyd, was one of his star "pupils".) The accent was different - Germanic - but again, while on screen, he absolutely stole the show. (An aside: I thought that Nick Adams, the Prince in TNOT Two-Legged Buffalo, was miscast as Dillinger, but RC was perfect as Pretty Boy Floyd, and did a good acting job too.) Victor Buono made a big impact on me when I saw him on TV as a child (like Mary, I too saw WWW in it's first run). Kesler states that he appeared to underplay the Manzeppi character as "a very bored villain", but his eyes have that crazed look about them that belies that impression, at least to me.

I thought the other actors (including our own Ross Martin) were wasted. While it was interesting to see a young Richard Pryor in an early TV appearnce, his talent was wasted on a part anyone could have played. Ditto for Anthony Eisley, RC's old Hawaiian Eye partner. (I've never seen H.E. and now I'm curious, although I don't get the channel that reruns it, so I may never see it.)

A word about wardrobe: The suit Jim wears in the opening scene was thankfully never seen again. It looked like an usher's outfit ("Call for Phillip Morse!") And what in the heck is that little red doodad at his neck? Thankfully, the blue suit makes an immediate appearance. Although the vest is more subdued than the trademark brocade, I liked the collar . Artie's new blue suit is much nicer, with subtle blue piping, than what I call his carnival barker blue suit with the much brighter blue piping all over it - ick! But that green velvet smoking jacket...ahhhh!

Because of Victor Buono, the gorgeous color and those good-looking heroes in their new clothes, I give this one...
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ccb
SS Quizmaster Emeritus

3799 Posts

Posted - 10/25/2004 :  20:04:03  Show Profile
"The Eccentrics" recycles three ideas from West's first season episodes—a band of assassins ("The Grand Emir"), led by a Satanic magician ("The Druid's Blood"), attempt to topple another country's potentate ("The Dragon Screamed"). My guess is that the script delivered to the producers by Charles Bennett—Hitchcock's great scenarist duringthe director's formative British years—was fairly serious. At least three things nudged it into serio-comedy. One was the story's body-count, whose effects had to be neutralized for a family audience. Another was Henry Sharp's "Amorous Amanda" in Act III. Most important of all was the casting of Victor Buono as the principal guest star.

Buono is a delight and, for my money, the best thing about this episode. (The second best is Richard Shores's music: a quintessential track for Season Two, especially the fight cue in Act I.) Nominated for a best supporting Oscar for Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), Buono was an immensely gifted performer, equally adept at drama and comedy. While some critics found his Count Manzeppi as "bored," I prefer to think that the actor made a deliberate decision to underplay the role, realizing (1) that the rest of the episode's stage business was sufficiently elaborate, and (2) that one over-the-top villain—Batman's campy King Tut—was quite enough for the same actor during the same era. Too bad that neither of the Manzeppi scripts in Season Two allowed for an extended exchange between Buono and Martin, a real pair of inveterate scene-stealers.

Though not its strongest card, it's easy to see why CBS chose to lead the series' second season with this episode. It is as colorful as "The Golden Cobra," the first color production, but with a more convoluted story. It gives Conrad a strong starring turn, while saving Martin as the disguised secret weapon that even his partner doesn't recognize. We are nicely introduced to the remodeled varnish car and one of its outlandish new gadgets: the escape-hatch firebox. The teaser's dialogue ("Secret Service man," "the notorious James West," "West's sidekick Artemus Gordon") subtly reintroduces our heroes in a new series of adventures. Indeed, this teaser—its weird atmosphere, introduction of the rogues' gallery, West's saving Gordon from the noose, Markham's chilling death, the Count's disembodied laughter in the echo-chamber—is one of the series' best.

The rest of the show, unfortunately, doesn't live up to the teaser's promise. There are too many introductions of the Eccentrics; too many hair-breadth escapes that lead into too many plot contrivances; too many twists, like West's commission to kill Artemus and Deadeye's impersonation of Juarez, that lead nowhere; too many obviously fake knife-throwings. (We all saw that episode of I Love Lucy, thanks, so we know how the gag works.) Good actors, like Anthony Eiseley, are given too little to do; better actors, like Richard Pryor, have even less. What substance there is has been diluted; but it's carried off in grand style, thanks to Al Heschong, first-time director Bob Sparr (formerly, one of the series' film cutters), Richard Shores, and the incomparable Victor.

1/2

Elaine: The suit Jim wears in the opening scene was thankfully never seen again. . . . Artie's new blue suit is much nicer, with subtle blue piping, than what I call his carnival barker blue suit with the much brighter blue piping all over it - ick!

Is "the carnival barker's suit" to which you refer the periwinkle RM wore exclusively in Season One? In any case, the suit Conrad wears in the teaser and the beginning of Act I is nothing more than one of his first-season gray suits, given crimson piping to make it more flamboyant for the first color season. Maybe the producers agreed that it was too flamboyant: It will appear again ("The Night of the Watery Death," "The Deadly Bubble"), minus the piping but with a brighter waistcoat and ascot to liven up the ensemble.

couldron: The humor softens it as when the Count pays tribute to the very popular Elizabeth Montgomery’s Bewitched. That was a nice touch, wasn't it?

I was annoyed at the loosely translated flyer. . . . I read it as saying Forget your troubles in the Echo Park and than the words Alegra, Felicidad, and Risa which can be translated as happiness, cheerup, and laugh. I like Mary's translation much better. The odd thing is that Bob Conrad knew some Spanish, was even performing in Mexico during the series' early negotiations between Garrison and CBS. Yet he is given such an awful translation to read and, in Act III, speaks to some guards in Spanish with a weak accent and very halting cadence. (Compare Ross Martin's fluent delivery in the tag.)

Roger: Too bad Manzeppi only came back one more time. If the show went on another year it would of been interesting to see Manzeppi and Loveless team up against West and Gordon.

It was not to be. By then, producer Bruce Lansbury had steered the show away from Garrison's fabulous fantasy. Still, a third engagement between the agents and the Count—sans Loveless, I think—would have been welcome indeed.
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K Mills
SS novice field agent

849 Posts

Posted - 10/25/2004 :  20:41:32  Show Profile
I was annoyed at the loosely translated flyer. . . . I read it as saying Forget your troubles in the Echo Park and than the words Alegra, Felicidad, and Risa which can be translated as happiness, cheerup, and laugh. I like Mary's translation much better. The odd thing is that Bob Conrad knew some Spanish, was even performing in Mexico during the series' early negotiations between Garrison and CBS. Yet he is given such an awful translation to read and, in Act III, speaks to some guards in Spanish with a weak accent and very halting cadence. (Compare Ross Martin's fluent delivery in the tag.)

Has anyone on this list ever heard RC sing in Spanish? It's lovely. I don't get it either. Ross Martin's spoken Spanish is swoon worthy. K
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ccb
SS Quizmaster Emeritus

3799 Posts

Posted - 10/26/2004 :  10:07:13  Show Profile
Ross Martin's spoken Spanish is swoon worthy. K

Ah, K: Is there anything Mr. Martin might do that would not induce swooning?
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K Mills
SS novice field agent

849 Posts

Posted - 10/26/2004 :  10:41:57  Show Profile
Actually yes, I absolutely despise Artemus when he is written as slightly clownish, goofy, or incapable. And the writers seemed to indulge themselves a bit too often. Case in point - Night of the Sudden Death. Artemus is at his best when written more deftly. Humor, yes, but charming and resourceful. Night of the Falcon comes to mind. K
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Elaine
SS 1st assignment - desk job

356 Posts

Posted - 10/26/2004 :  15:14:17  Show Profile
ccb asked:
quote:

Is "the carnival barker's suit" to which you refer the periwinkle RM wore exclusively in Season One?

Yes, it is. I don't care for any of the suits with piping. I prefer the more serious look of the suits from season two onward. And the brocade vests. And I have to mention the tuxedos, of course.

And I'll just speak for K here. There is almost nothing Mr. Martin did that was not swoon-worthy.
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ccb
SS Quizmaster Emeritus

3799 Posts

Posted - 10/26/2004 :  18:37:19  Show Profile
K: I absolutely despise Artemus when he is written as slightly clownish, goofy, or incapable. And the writers seemed to indulge themselves a bit too often.

Despite the producers' editing, I'd bet this happened more than we ever saw. Martin owned that character and in time, I'm sure, figured out what he would or wouldn't do.

Has anyone on this list ever heard RC sing in Spanish? It's lovely. I don't get it either.

No, but that would be interesting. This may be another case of The Sinatra Syndrome. Sinatra sounded and too often acted like a thug from Hoboken. But when he sang—Jeez Louise. It was the bellest of bell canto.
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couldron
SS novice field agent

1438 Posts

Posted - 10/26/2004 :  20:02:27  Show Profile
quote:
Has anyone on this list ever heard RC sing in Spanish? It's lovely.


Before Napster was raided, I managed to get some of RC's songs
I agree that it is lovely. I had heard that one song was a bigger hit than the Beatles in South America. The orchestration helped out a lot.
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JimPhelps
SS 1st assignment - desk job

USA
417 Posts

Posted - 12/04/2004 :  19:26:11  Show Profile
TNOT Eccentrics

16 September 1966

“Mr. West, you have succeeded in making me lose my temper!”
“Is that bad?”
“For you it will be highly traumatic.”

-Jim and Manzeppi at the end of Act II

A great way to start the “colorful” second season: gadgets, disguises, twists and turns, a redesigned varnish car, even a “peel off mask” moment, (the first season of “Mission: Impossible” premiered the next day, [September 17, 1966] that series made the gimmick so famous actual plastic surgeons contacted the show to ask how they did it) and a great (almost) recurring character who’s into the black arts; Manzeppi is no two bit Asmodeaus. Like “The Eccentrics” themselves, the story is a bit disorganized so it is definitely a triumph of style over substance.

The teaser opens up the season in grand style re-introducing us to Jim and Artie in the middle of a mission, using a gadget to get past a locked door. Artie almost breaks his neck in a nasty booby trap and right away we see the strong bond that has developed between the two. One year makes a big difference. The death of Markham is especially creepy, with the disembodied voice, presumable provided by Villar.

Presumably the Archduke of Austria has hired the Eccentrics to assassinate Benito Juarez in order to reclaim Mexico for Europe once again. I sure hope the duke didn’t spend too much money since the Eccentrics themselves don’t seem to know what their plan is, and it changes throughout the episode. Manzeppi like Loveless works better when he works for himself as in “TNOT Feathered Fury.”

Richard Pryor is sadly underused, we hear most of his lines in voiceover through that creepy dummy, and even though Villar gets away with the Count he never turns up in the sequel. However, the comic was just a few years away from his big break when he would become one of the biggest celebrities of the 1970’s, and an inspiration to just about every stand up comic out there.

This episode as we all know received lukewarm reviews on its premier with critics complaining that there was too much gadgetry and trickery. That aspect does not bother me at all. What does bother me is the fact that some of it seems quite repetitive. Jim is trapped in the Eccentrics hideout twice, and twice Miranda comes to his rescue. Once it’s by design, the second time she is motivated by greed. Looking back on it I can see the difference but to the first time viewer it looks like déjà vu (at least it seemed that way to me). How can we possibly be expected to trust this woman again?

Artie’s surprise appearance as the old Mexican solider is a nice treat as Jim himself seems genuinely surprised laughingly exclaiming: “Artie, you son of a gun!” The visit to the presidential palace is of course a set up. Deadeye is also (it seems) a master of impersonation able to duplicate Juarez voice with ease, he must be pretty good to slip past the palace guards as Juarez. The peel off gimmick is handled well (better than on most episodes of “Mission: Impossible” to be honest) there’s still a cut, there has to be, but it’s expertly done and it gives the illusion that Deadeye was wearing the “perfect” Juarez mask. If the Eccentrics had such good access in the first place why does their plan seem so disheveled?

My favorite part of the show is the duel between Deadeye and Jim. Jim speaks the truth; Deadeye is just a coward, expert at gunning down defenseless men. After the Count talks him up it’s a kind of perverse pleasure to watch Deadeye stop in the middle of his “fall down…” line and drop dead himself. Luckily for Deadeye he would return two years later as the more benign Warren Blessing, director of the Secret Service training academy.

The tag is amusing, as Colonel Exposition goes on and on about getting enough rest and wild imaginations while Manzeppi’s hand reaches through the wall takes a flower and replaces Juarez’s picture with his own.

The commercial break art is still the single colored tintype image, an effect which looks rather cool I think. We have Jim in close up listening to the Eccentrics do their patented diabolical laughter, and angry Count peering over a flaming dish, Deadeye with part of the mask still hanging from his chin, and the picture of Manzeppi playfully placed by the Count himself. A nice looking storyboard.

So this one looks great but doesn’t hang together all to well on repeated viewings so I’ll give it two and a half prosthetic noses out of four.


Mr. Phelps
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