Monday, September 20, 2010

Wild Wild West--"The Night of the Bogus Bandits"

Michael Dunn returns for his eighth of ten appearances as Dr. Miguelito Loveless in ‘The Night of the Bogus Bandits.” The episode is underrated as far as Loveless stories go. Perhaps that is because his latest plan of conquest, while grandiose, does not involve any extraordinary science fiction elements like his most recent. But it is still enjoyable because the plot is cleverer than most.

Loveless has been training an army to work as a cohesive unit by robbing banks with precision skill. They never get caught because none of the money is ever spent. Loveless burns the loot in a bonfire with promises there is far more wealth to be had later. However, two C-notes escape one bonfire and are spent by two henchmen. Jim and Artie are assigned to track down who spent the charged money.

Artie becomes a tenant at the boarding house where one was spent on rent. Jim goes to a saloon to find the former owner o the other. Artie finds and tussles with Loveless’ henchman who is trying to clean up his mess. Jim finds the man himself and gets captured.

Loveless reveals is plan. He is training his army to make a three pronged, simultaneous attack I order to arm, finance, and conquer the territory for his own. He has apparently lined up some foreign ally is willing to recognize his new country once he gives the signal. In a surprising, but refreshing move, it is Artie that stops Loveless’ plan by destroying the communication device so the attack cannot go forward. Loveless, of course, escapes to scheme another day.

There is a lot of build up as our heroes go through the motions of tracking down the charged bills’ owners. So much time is spent on it, the ending feels a bit rushed. We have to accept Loveless’ army will not go all lone wolf and attack anyway because there is no time to actually deal with them. It is a small gripe, but one nonetheless. The grandiose scheme of conquest peters out with one move on Artie’s part.

A key point of interest is the town Jim finds Loveless in--from the entire town--downtown, jail, and the saloon--is Dodge City from Gunsmoke. Miss Kitty’s Longbranch saloon has only slightly been altered for the episode. This counts as the third glaringly noticeable time the series borrows a set from another show. The second was in “The Night of the Bottomless Pit” when Gilligan’s island doubled as Devil’s Island. the first was the appearance of the fort from the Star Trek episode "Arena" which has appeared frequently since the first season.

“The Night of the Bogus Bandits” is not the strongest of the Loveless episodes, but it is still a Loveless episode, so that puts it a cut above the rest. It could have had a little more pizzazz for a season finale, but it does end a strig of mediocre episodes on a strong note.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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