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Old 03-21-07, 10:53 AM   #1
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DVD Talk review of 'The Wild Wild West - The Complete Second Season'

I read Paul Mavis's DVD review of The Wild Wild West - The Complete Second Season at and... I enjoyed it innmensly. I absolutely concur with Mr. Mavis's comments on THE WILD WILD WEST but I found two errors in his review regarding this classic "James Bond in The Wild West" TV series. First of all, The Wild Wild West was very much rerun on TV in especially the 1990's from 1994 to 1999 on the TNT channel Monday to Fridays on 5:00 PM, EST( while The Adventures of Brisco County were on weekends on TNT) I distinctly remember a three day marathon of TWWW on TNT in the summer of 1999, when the atrocious Will Smith/Kevin Kline version of TWWW was released in theatres. The other error is that the 1966 TARZAN TV series starring Ron Ely as Tarzan was really broadcast on NBC on Friday nights at 7:30PM EST in the 1966 to 1968 seasons, but definetly not on ABC. The Tarzan TV series on NBC Friday nights in 1966 was the lead in for The Man From UNCLE which was broadcast after Tarzan at 8:30PM. On ABC, that same year of 1966 at 7:30PM was THE GREEN HORNET followed by Irwin Allen's THE TIME TUNNEL at 8:00PM . The final error is that The Wild Wild West started to go down in the Neilsen ratimgs during their second season in 1966. That is not exactly correct, since The Wild Wild West easily beat both THE GREEN HORNET & the first halfhour of THE TIME TUNNEL on ABC in that Friday 7:30 to 8:30 PM timeslot(both shows lasted only 1 season) and held up well against TARZAN in that very same timeslot. Remember that TARZAN lasted only one more season on NBC in that Friday 7:30 PM timeslot until it was cancelled in 1968 but The Wild Wild West stayed in it's Friday night 7:30PM slot for it's complete four year run without being switched around like it happened to NBC's THE MAN FROM UNCLE which during it's 4 year run on NBC, had their timeslot changed every one of it's 4 years which is one of the reasons for that series' downfall. The main reason for The Wild Wild West's fall in the ratings especially during the 1967 to 1969 seasons were that the James Bond TV craze was waning out since all the TV spy shows like The Avengers, The Man from Uncle, I Spy and Secret Agent were all gone by 1968 and only TWWW and Mission Impossible were around by the 1968-1969 season(only I Take A Thief was new in 1968 and Get Smart was a sitcom) and also Congress in 1968 because of the assasinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King came down hard on the TV networks for so called violent TV shows ,which TWWW at the time was incredibly considered violent for it's time. CBS decided to cancel the show in 1969 because of this, even though during the summer of 1970, CBS rerun the best of the WILD WILD WEST episodes on Thursday nights at 10PM and it ironically won it's timeslot during that time.For more information regarding this, check the excellent book on THE WILD WILD WEST by Sue Kessler that covers the whole history of this classic 60's TV show.
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Old 03-21-07, 11:24 AM   #2
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Thanks for the great email; I'm glad you enjoyed the review!

I fixed the ABC/NBC switch; sorry about that, but didn't Tarzan always kind of feel like an ABC show?

As for reruns of The Wild Wild West, I was referring to immediate syndication, following the original run. It didn't play in nearly as many markets as the two shows I gave as examples (Gilligan's Island and The Andy Griffith Show), nor did it play non-stop, year after year, for forty years as those shows have -- and will continue to do, probably. My point was, The Wild Wild West just wasn't on TV as much as other cult shows of the Sixties (you can check that with any TV syndication reference work), and despite the brief run during the 1990s on the cable network you mentioned (as opposed to the hundreds of stations for my examples, for forty years), I still think that's a valid statement. It's not a knock against The Wild Wild West -- it's just a fact of syndication: one-hour shows weren't nearly as popular buys for local stations, and that's still true today.

As for your statement about the ratings, you can check any prime-time TV reference book: the first season of Tarzan took a sizeable bite out of The Wild Wild West's ratings (as did the loss of Gomer Pyle for the Friday night line up). The Nielsen ratings are what they are: Tarzan was 27th for the year -- and The Wild Wild West was no longer in the Top Thirty. You say that it more than held it's own against Tarzan, and that may have been true on individual nights, but overall, for the year, those were the correct ratings.

My reference to Tarzan also only covered this second season of The Wild Wild West -- whatever effect it had on ratings, or its own ratings, in later seasons of The Wild Wild West, wasn't referred to. My point was specific: Tarzan's premiere aided in the drop of The Wild Wild West's ratings -- as the year-end Nielsen's clearly indicate. As for the rest of The Wild Wild West's run and its ratings (and the reasons for its cancellation), I'll discuss those if I'm lucky enough to review the other future box sets. My points were specific only to this second season.

I appreciate you reading my review so carefully; I'm glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for the heads up on the Tarzan ABC/NBC slip!

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Old 03-21-07, 04:44 PM   #3
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The Wild Wild West Second Season DVD Box Set

Paul, I'm glad to be of assistence to you since we are both Wild Wild West fans. As to your reply, I agree that WWW was not as widely sindicated as the other classic 60's TV shows you mentioned but other classic 60's shows like The Man From UNCL:E, Batman and even Tarzan had worse sindication thruout the 70's and 80's than WWW! Batman didn't get any better sindication on local TV until the late 1980's when the first BATMAN movie with Micheal Keaton came out and the same goes for THE MAN FROM UNCLE which wasn't widely seen in sindication until 1984 when Ted Turner bought the MGM library and showed it on TNT until 1990 when it went to the PAX channel(which edited and censored those UNCLE episodes as well as STAR TREK because of the channel's religious and non violent beliefs) It wasn't until 2004 that UNCLE was really widely shown uncut on the American Life cable channel. But those two TV shows had worse sindication than WWW.
As for TARZAN, I agree that the 1966 TARZAN TV show stole the ratings thunder from WWW in 1966 simply because it was the first time there was a TARZAN show on TV and it was a big deal for Tarzan fans at that time(Producer Sol Lesser made 2 Tarzan TV pilots in 1957 with then Tarzan actor Gordon Scott that didn't sell but later both pilots were released theatrically as one film as TARZAN AND THE TRAPPERS) But by the show's second season on 1967, Tarzan was going down in the ratings and was canceled at the end of that season and WWW recovered it's position as the number 1 show on the 7:30 PM Friday night slot in the 1967-1968 season and although the show never got the same ratings as in their 1st season, CBS renewed the show for the 4th and final season.
As for the demise of the WWW series, as I stated before that CBS in 1969 bowed to Congresional pressure to eliminate so-called violent TV shows and WWW ended up as a scapegoat for that reason, the show also suffered in it's final season because at the end of the third season(1967-1968), Robert Conrad suffered a serious head injury doing a stunt that went wrong that cut that season short(24 episodes instead of the usual 28) to give time for Conrad to recover and when he returned for work for the 4th season, CBS gave Conrad strict orders not to do his own stunts for the show as before and let his stuntmen do them and the series suffered because of this. Adding to this problem, Ross Martin suffered a massive heart attack at the beginning of the 4th season that left him out of 12 episodes in that season (Martin was replaced by character actors Charles Aidman, William Schallert and even Alan Hale Jr( the Skipper in Gilligan's Island) in those episodes) When Martin returned to finish those final episodes of the 4th season, he was obviously not the same man as before and the series was cancelled at the end of that season because CBS couldn't have two stars with serious and risky health problems doing an action adventure show. All these facts are well described in Sue Kessler's excellent book on the WWW TV show called " THE WILD WILD WEST REVISITED" published in 1986 and unfortunately out of print. But Ms. Kesser, because of her book, served as consultant for the special features contained in the WILD WILD WEST FIRST SEASON DVD BOX SET released last year and she provided promotional WWW material and interviews of the cast and crew for that DVD box set.
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