“I’ve heard of people being stoned but this is ridiculous”
It’s the end of a long and turbulent season. The cast and crew are exhausted and it shows. Although the idea of a germ that temporarily paralyses entire populations seems promising the execution leaves something to be desired. This is too bad since from the teaser it’s clear that Ross and RC have become comfortable with each other, Artie’s crack when he enters the saloon seems a sly wink at the counter culture of the times. Unfortunately the story seems rather “stoned” at times, elements are unfocused and too loose, the pacing uneven.
I suppose my first question was: “Why is Dr Kirby using such a genius idea in such a lackluster way?” Coley and his gang are small potato cutthroats too stupid to realize the potential of Dr Kirby’s germ. They spend their time robbing small town banks. How about an attack on the US Mint in Denver? ‘Kirby and Coley’ is an odd match to say the least, I can’t even figure out how their paths crossed. Kirby doesn’t really need them to carry out his plans, even if it’s just robbing banks, it only takes one person to poison the town well, and after everybody is frozen, one person or two to collect the money. The gang basically exists to provide some kind of wildcard and as filler materiel.
Speaking of filler materiel there seems to be plenty. A lot of Act I is Jim sneaking around the gang’s hideout (John Brown’s old place) in fact there seems to be an awful lot of sneaking around the hideout in this episode, in poor day-for-night photography. Perhaps some of this time could have been used to explain to us just how exactly Kirby was able to design the germ to work so quickly. Everyone who’s frozen seems caught in the middle of whatever it was they were doing at the time, not as if an epidemic had broken out. And of course, even though the entire town drinks out of the same well, different people drink at different rates. Wouldn’t the people who drink more water get freeze first? Maybe not, perhaps they (the germs) are designed that well. Dr Kirby is brilliant beyond the 21st Century, which is what drives me crazy about this episode because it seems like a good idea wasted. .
No disguise for Artie this week but, RM is in good form full of caustic wit and wry remarks throughout the entire episode. His line deliveries are all great even in the tag the way he delivers the line “How could we forget John Chang?” very funny. Other than that Artie doesn’t have much to do, he’s non-existent for Act II until the end when he is mistaken for Jim. Then he’s tied to a table and threatened by Coley for awhile but that doesn’t go anywhere.
Unfortunately two West regular supporting villains H.M Wynant (has he ever played a good guy?) and all around real life good guy Robert Phillips are wasted in their roles; the real menace both actors are able to convey is not utilized at all. Only a stock scene in which Coley dispatches Doyle for skimming profits, (it’s been repeated in a thousand “standard westerns”), hints at the two actor’s potential; compare to the great scene between Ed Asner and Kevin Hagen in TNOT Amnesiac.
Theo Marcuse is good in the role of a man crazed by grief. Dr Kirby has all the motivations for an evil genius just no proper outlet. He was always a great guest on TV during the sixties; I like his appearances on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Star Trek. There’s some interesting back story and a sensitive portrayal of Anna from the late Nobu McCarthy.
Sadly, this is the final black and white episode so this is our last daguerreotype style storyboard artwork. That’s too bad because it’s my absolute favorite although the others have their own charm as well. It’s mostly a series of close-ups: Jim for Act I, Artie for II (“We got him.”), The main guest Theo Marcuse (I’m in the dark about the whole wig and beard removal myself), and for the final act we see that the producers have finally taken my advice and not cut away to a stock shot of the Wanderer, instead we have a very nice shot of our heroes enjoying champagne with Anna. Classy.
So overall good idea, anemic execution, however, very few series have a first season with so many classics. I can only give it one and a half prosthetic noses out of four, time for cast and crew to go on vacation.
Like Vipers Jim drops in on the gang of thieves. I like how the escape is filmed. I do wonder why the guy on the wall was such a bad shot. O.K. I know why. It was clever I thought that they chase Jim and get Artie. Artie has a great line “ show a little respect I could be your great uncle”
I would like this episode better if they had been clearer why Dr. Kirby’s hair is pulled off. This part bothers me so much that it really mars the rest of a good episode.