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I really canít get enough of the classic television shows that aired in regular syndication during my childhood. Unfortunately, these classic shows eventually fell off the radar and were replaced by sleazy talk shows and the other dreck that now makes up the daily television schedule of local broadcast channels. If it were not for the phenomenon of television on DVD, many classic shows like THE WILD WILD WEST would remain just a fond memory, instead of something I can relive and re-watch anytime I like. Watching classic TV shows like THE WILD WILD WEST (not to mention newer shows) on DVD make up far more of my viewing habits than watching current shows when they air. What I especially like about a show like THE WILD WILD WEST is that is represents total escapist fare, without the threat of reality to bursts its genre defying entertainment bubble.

Mixing elements of the western, with equal doses of spy drama and science fiction, not to mention an occasional splash of comedy, THE WILD WILD WEST was a television show unlike any other. Set in the American southwest during the post Civil War era, THE WILD WILD WEST follows the adventures of two Secret Service agents, whose headquarters is the 19th Century equivalent of a high tech train car. With a decisive nod to that gadget happy spy James Bond, our lead agent in THE WILD WILD WEST is James T. West (Robert Conrad), a former Union Army officer, who always finds himself in the middle of the fray, that is, when he isnít romancing a beautiful woman. Partnered with West, is Artemus Gordon (Ross Martin), a former con man, entertainer and master of disguise, who devises many of the gadgets that our heroes employ to get themselves out of scrapes with the numerous villains that they face on western frontier. Of course, the most infamous of these villains is the diminutive megalomaniac, Dr. (Michael Dunn), who made a total of ten appearances during the course if the series four year run.

THE WILD WILD WEST: THE THIRD SEASON ($50) comes to DVD in a six-disc set that features all twenty-four episodes that were aired in year three. The twenty-four featured episodes are as follows: The Night Of The Bubbling Death, The Night Of The Firebrand, The Night Of The Assassin, The Night Dr. Loveless Died, The Night Of The Jack O'Diamonds, The Night Of The Samurai, The Night Of The Hangman, The Night Of Montezuma's Hordes, The Night Of The Circus Of Death, The Night Of The Falcon, The Night Of The Cut-Throats, The Night Of The Legion Of Death, The Night Of The Turncoat, The Night Of The Iron Fist, The Night Of The Running Death, The Night Of The Arrow, The Night Of The Headless Woman, The Night Of The Vipers, The Night Of The Underground Terror, The Night Of The Death Masks, The Night Of The Undead, The Night Of The Amnesiac, The Night Of The Simian Terror and The Night Of The Death-Maker.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made all twenty-four episodes from THE WILD WILD WEST: THE THIRD SEASON available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. The episodes look very nice for a late 1960s television series, with everything coming across as sharp and well defined. Some softness creeps in, but usually on shots involving process work. Colors can be rather vibrant, although outdoor photography is a little less so. Blacks and whites appear accurate, while the standard television lighting flattens out the image somewhat. The film elements show some grain. Signs of age are generally limited to minor blemishes. Digital compression artifacts are pretty well contained.

All of the episodes that constitute THE WILD WILD WEST: THE THIRD SEASON, come with Dolby Digital monaural soundtracks that sound quite good for their vintage. Most of the age related background hiss and other audible defects have been cleaned up in the mastering process, leaving the tracks with a fairly pleasant sound. Fidelity is fine, although the sound effects lack punch. Dialogue is crisply rendered and remains totally understandable. No other language tracks or subtitles are present. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features. No supplemental content has been provided.

THE WILD WILD WEST remains terrific escapist fun. Paramountís DVD collection looks and sounds pretty impressive for a vintage television series. Recommended.



The Wild Wild West - Third Season



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2007 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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