Friday, December 10, 2010

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

If you needed proof beyond the previous episode’s blatant reuse of an entire sequence from a previous installment that the end is coming soon for The Wild Wild West, look no further than “The Night of the Tycoons.” I am not familiar enough with the behind the scenes doings to know for certain, but this is either an incredibly poorly written script, or they edited the heck out of it in order for guest star Joanie Sommers to perform a solo.

Jim is a solo act in this one, too, so I assume it was filmed while Ross martin was recuperating from his heart attack. I suppose the poor story structure could be a reworking of the script to remove Artie from the episode. Again, I do not know. All I know for certain is this thing is a serious dud.

Jim interrupts the board meeting of the Jupiter Corporation, an arms manufacturer with strong ties to the War Department. He gets to the boardroom just in time to keep a trained monkey from killing them all with a grenade. The board has already lost two members to “accidents” in the last couple weeks, so Ulysses S. Grant has taken a personal interest in what looks like a concerted effort to destroy the company.

The chairman of the board is ice queen Amelia Bronston. She took over her position from her brother after his heart gave out on him under the stress of dealing with the other board members, whom she despises. She despises them so much, she refuses to allow jim to protect them in the hopes whoever is trying to kill them succeeds. She cannot be the villain, though. She is too obvious.

Then we meet her nephew, Lionel. He is a royal brat who forces the help to box with him so he can beat the crap out of them. Jim criticizes his fighting skills, so lionel makes a note to beat him up later. Lionel must be the bad guy, right? I would certainly like to see him get the bejebus knocked out of him.

Bronston changes her mind about protection and makes Jim chairman of the board so he will have free reign. Somehow, I doubt a federal agent investigating a case can do such a thing, but it is The Wild Wild West, so I just go with it. Bronston makes Lionel Jim’s assistant just to be a witch. Before he will help, he wants Jim to spar with him. We not see the fight at all, but in the next scene, Lionel is sporting a shiner and happily explaining the stock scheme that allegedly preceded the murders.

The scheme involves several board members dumping their stock in order to cause a panic. As other stockholders dump their shares, the value plummets. Then the conspirators can buy up all the dumped stock for chump change. If the scheme works, the conspirators hold enough stock to control the company. Evidence of the scheme points to a circus as the single address for the fake purchasers of the dumped stock.

Lionel takes it upon himself to investigate. He gets captured by some hoods. Off screen, of course. This is another scene where we have to fill in the gaps. Jim discovers where he has gone. When he gets there, he stops to watch a trained seal act. So do we--for about two minutes, which makes skipping Lionel’s capture and his sparring with Jim strange omissions. As if we would rather watch seals play harmonicas. Maybe during Glee, but not this show. Jim rescues Lionel from the backroom. They discover a replica of the boardroom there, too, with mannequins and a gatlin gun set to kill everyone.

Two of the mannequins are hoods in disguise. They fight Jim and Lionel, knock them unconscious, and tie them up in a predicament in which a large cross bow will skewer them both when a candle burns through a rope around the trigger. At least that is what I think happened. We go to commercial once the two fake mannequins begin moving. When we come back, Jim and Lionel are tied up in front of the crossbow. You may fill in the gaps as you see fit.

They escape in time to rescue the board members from--Bronston. Yes, it turns out the too obvious choice to be the villain was the villain anyway. What is more, she killed off her brother so she could become chairman a while back because she thought he was too much of a weinie to run a munitions manufacturer. She introduced the stock scheme, but when the other board members did not go for it, she killed them, too. Now she is planning to kill everyone. She does not get the chance, though. She falls down an open elevator shaft. Hey, why not? Nothing elsehere makes sense.

No one finds it odd she was the only board member not present when the monkey threw the grenade. No one thought it was odd she told Jim she wanted them all to die. Apparently, no one was going to think it was odd the entire board was slaughtered by a gatlin gun, leaving Bronston as the sole survivor and owner of the company because--lo and behold,--she was not in the boardroom then, either. Methinks no one thought this out very well.

Needless to say, “The Night of the Tycoons” is horrible. There is one saving grace. Singer Jo Sommers is a guest star as Lionel’s main squeeze. At one point, Jim sneaks into the Bronston mansion and, hiding on the balcony, listens to her sing an entire song. She has a lovely voice, but considering the huge chunks of action missing, I have to wonder why that was put in there rather than other vital stuff. Here is her biggest hit.Jim manhandles her character twice and makes a chauvinist joke about her staying in the kitchen. Was that a clumsy reference to this song? Considering Jim usually exhibits a chivalrous streak, maybe so.

Rating: * (out of 5)

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