Monday, December 6, 2010

Wild Wild West--"The Night of the Pistoleros"

While tomorrow’s episode is the lone remaining installment with Jim paired with someone else, “The Night of the Pistoleros” is the first episode to feature a post heart attack Ross Martin as Artie. It turns out to be a bit of a cruel trick to play on the audience, as Artie is supposedly killed in the second act. Nevertheless, there is a genuine excitement in jim’s reaction in the fourth act to discover his friend alive that I suspect Robert Conrad was genuinely feeling at Martin’s return.

Jim and Artie are summoned to Ft. Challenge on the Mexican border because a low ranking officer requested the president’s attention to traitors stationed there. The fort has been under constant attacks recently by a band of Mexican terrorists called the Pistoleros. Our heroes suspect their involvement.

Artie was in the same regiment as on of the officers who is supposedly a fake, so the Pistoleros have him kidnapped and replaced by a double who rejoins Jim after he has done recon at the fort, but found nothing conclusive. The Artie imposters is killed in a Pistolero attack. Subsequently, the fort commander is kidnapped and replaced. He uses the “death” of Artie as an excuse to enter without authorization and hunt down the Pistoleros.

The entire plot has been concocted by a wealthy Mexican rancher who wants the United States to destroy the Mexican army and government so he can take over what is left. Jim discovers his name through an imprisoned Pistolero and heads off to Mexico to stop him and the invasion. By this point, Artie and the fort commander have escaped on their own. Reunited, they save the day.

No explanation is ever given who these imposters are, or how they were altered. The wealthy rancher has a personal physician, but there is no indication he has any skills as a plastic surgeon. We have to surmise that is the case. It is a failure of the script to not at least toss in a line of explanation instead of leaving the audience to fill in the blanks. Otherwise, it is a decent episode. It is great to have Artie back, if nothing else.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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