Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wild Wild West--"The Night of the Colonel's Ghost "

“The Night of the Colonel’s Ghost” is an old fashioned murder mystery with a decent red herring and a resolution that is, in hindsight, so obvious as to be embarrassing if you missed it.

Pres. Ulysses S. Grant insists upon honoring a personal request to dedicate the statue of Col. Wayne Gibson, the son of the town of Gibsonville’s founder and a man who was killed with his entire company while under grant’s command during the Civil War. Gibson’s father spent the family fortune on the statue in the town square asa monument to his son.

Jim rides on ahead to discover Gibsonville has become a ghost town, save for the handful of people who are dismantling the place looking for an alleged missing stash of Gibson family’s gold. The handful of prospector’s are being picked ff one by one by someone or something breaking their necks. The remaining prospectors do not seem all that upset their compatriots are rapidly becoming corpses. Nor do they appear too excited the murder is the alleged ghost of Col. Gibson.

Since this is not Scooby Doo, Jim spends more time attempting to find the gold than unraveling the murder mystery. This is an o point, considering his job is to make sure the town is safe for Grant’s visit. Regardless, we hear two things after every murder; organ music and a caged parrot squawking, ’it’s here! It’s here!” the oran music is supposed to give you the creeps. It successfully does. The bird, however, while supposedly announcing the presence of his former owner’s ghost, seems to be implying instead his cage is made of painted over gold. So many o the characters and scenes dance around the prospect.

Alas, the killer turns out to be col. Gibson himself. He was actually a coward who ran off from battle and allowed his company to be slaughtered. Gibson planted his identification tas on the body of a soldier mangled beyond all recognition so he could ’die” a hero. He played the role of his ghost to run everyone off from town so he could search for his daddy’s gold. The gold is not the bird cage, but the statue. The true material used to build it is revealed when a stray bullet in the climactic gunfight mars the surface. Kind of obvious in hindsight, no?

Speaking of obvious, there is a rather obvious glaring error in the story, too. The statue dedicated to Gibson has an inscription which says he died commanding a company of soldiers. Grant reiterates this fact. However, captains are in charge of companies. Colonels are in charge of regiments. Even if Gibson was promoted posthumously, he would have been a major. That is a factual error that could have been easily avoided.

“The Night of the Colonel’s Ghost” is not great, but it comes at a fortunate time. After a string of high concept plots, something so subdued is welcome, even if it is not crafted as expertly a it might. The factual errors and lapses in logic do not completely kill the enjoyment, but I think I would consider it a worse episode if it were not such a refreshing change of pace.
Rating: *** (out of 5)

No comments:

Post a Comment