Thursday, October 7, 2010

Wild Wild West--"The Night of the Headless Woman"

“The Night of the Headless Woman” is one of my favorite episodes of the series. It sticks out among the other third season fare for its similarity to the far superior second season. By tat, I mean it has a weird plot, goofy villains, Jim in numerous fistfights, Artie in a humorous disguise, and a very special feeme fatale, second only to Michele Carey as far as they go.

See if you can catch al this: An Egyptian sheik is conspiring with the head of te San Francisco ports authority to breed, ship into the United States, and transport into the South super boll weevils that will destroy the entire cotton crop, leaving the two of them with a monopoly. They are transporting these boll weevils by wagon train in mannequins. One is stopped in the teaser and a female mannequin loses her head, revealing the boll weevils inside.

Jim n Artie are assigned to unravel the conspiracy. It is one of the better ones of the series. We do not find out the ports authority head is in on it until the fourth act. But a secondary objective develops which sends the episode into classic territory. Our heroes have to keep two super boll weevils from mating and creating a brand new species of highly destructive bugs. In order to do this, they have to fid the glass container separating the two love birds, er…bugs. How is that for earning a day’s pay?

Ricard Anderson play the ports authority head about six years before giving marching orders to Steve Austen and Jaime Summers. Ah, but the femme fatale is his daughter. She is played y Dawn Wells, whom you may recall came in at #21 on my Alltime Favorites list.It is a misnomer to call her a femme fatale here. She is dear, sweet Mary Ann all over. The poor girl has no idea what kind of man her daddy really is.

All that combines for an episode you cannot possibly dislike. It ha everything there is to like about The Wild Wild West, san Dr. Miguelito Loveless. The episode marks a subtle shift back to the kinds of plots the show was known for in the first two seasons. There are still a couple more straightforward western stories to go, but the shift back to basics that will go full blast in the wonderfully weird fourth season is underway.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

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