Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wild Wild West--"The Night of the Surreal McCoy"

“The Night of the Surreal McCoy” is Michael Dunn’s seventh o ten appearances as Dr. Miguelito Loveless. It is also the most far out there, plot wise. As with all loveless episodes, it is a cut above the herd because of Dunn, but there is still something missing.

Jim and Artie are assigned to guard the Herzberg crown jewels at a Denver museum. When they are impossibly stolen from a locked, guarded display room, a local wealthy art collector named Axel Morgan comes to collect one of his paintings on displaying in the same room. Artie notices it is a forgery, so he weasels his way ito an invite to Morgan’s house to snoop around.

He an Jim eventually discover Moran and Loveless are in cahoots in Loveless’ latest plan. The demented dwarf has developed a way of transporting people into paintings through sound. He plans to gift all of Morgan’s art collection to various world leaders and financial institutions, then allow his henchmen to escape from the paintings when they are all in place. Thus, he will take over the world in one fell swoop.

But this is not his main objective. Loveless has arranged for the most notorious gunfighter in the West to fight a duel with Jim to see who really is the fastest. His plan there is to send both of them inside a painting so they will have no choice but to fight. What he does not count on is Artie intercepting “Lightning” McCoy and taking his place in order to rescue Jim. Jim and Lightning wind up dueling ayway. Takea guess who wins.

Loveless escapes inside a painting. Our heroes do not know which one, so they crate them all up. The final scene focuses on a crate with a sawing noise as Loveless works his way out.

As I said above, there are a few things. On a technical level, god directing is absent. Director Alan Croslnd keeps using strage angle to convey either Lovelsss’ arrogance or the surreal atmosphere when Jim is stuck in the world of the painting. Loveless is often shot from below in the same manner Orson Welles filmed Charles Kane in Citizen Kne to make him more intimidating. Cosland is not Orson Welles and the technique does not work for Loveless. His personality makes him formidable. Tryin to compensate for his small stature is nothing more tan distracting.

The strange angles in the painting world do not do much for me other than think Cosland is attempting to cash in on the popularity of Batman, which frequently used the technique.

Another problem is how poorly the two plots complement each other. Loveless’ plan to tae over the world is revealed and then dropped all n one act for the showdown between Jim and Lightning. It is almost like two different scripts mashed haphazardly into one. It is perfectly reasonable at some point for archenemies to care about little more than their danse macabre even at the expense of scheme of wealth or power, but it still feels odd the world conquer ring plot is introduced and then dispensed with so quickly.

Loveless is a bit off this time, too. The biggest issue is that Phoebe Dorn, Dunn’s real life singing partner, does not appear as Antoinette. That mean there is no duet this time around. Such was always a vital part of the character. He had an appreciation for beauty and yet was such an evil man. The episode is missing the contrasting element. Truth be told, loveless is constantly being bullied y Morgan, which diminishes the character. Morgan is a brute who fell into wealth and is trying to buy his way into polite society asa patron of the arts. He is obviously failing at it. It is tough to watch someone like him browbeating the erudite Loveless.

All that said, ad Loveless is better than no Loveless. The weirdness of “The Night o the Surreal McCoy” has to be experienced to be believed. One wonders what drugs the powers that be were on when they came up with the concept.

Rati: *** (out of 5)

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