I was watching an episode of The Wild Wild West last night and, of course, it was appallingly acted and written but way back, when that show was current, I thought it was soooo cooool! Now that I am an adult and a callous sophisticate, even my favorite character, Artemus Gordon, seems two-dimensional. And OMG the costumes! One extra wore an authentic-ish dress that looked sort of 1870s while the female lead wore things of the wrong era (a dress with an Empire waist in one scene and a down-market Liza-Doolittle-as-a-lady dress n’ hat combo in the other scenes. Ah, it’s too easy to make fun of costumes of the past. Have you watched The Ten Commandments lately? No? Check out Ann Baxter as Nefertiri . I digress, but that’s the way it is in movies and TV — the main characters wear clothes and hair that are more contemporary, while the extras are less attractively but more authentically costumed.
After my screed on costuming, I’ll spare you the details of Night of the Two Legged Buffalo because the plot was so convoluted and bad that it’s not worth my time nor yours. Suffice it to say that there was an Oscar Wilde effete* sort of guy who was played by an actor named Nick Adams who led a short and colorful life and hung out with Elvis and James Dean. But in the ultimate “fight” scene of the episode, where Artie and Jim get the best of the bad guys, Adams stole the show by displaying derring-do from the back of a horse.
Instead of the expected cuts and close ups to make it look like the guy was riding the horse back and forth in the studio, the guy really was riding the horse back and forth in the studio, delivering his lines (maybe they were looped in later, I don’t know) from the back of an unhappy animal (you could see the whites of the poor things eyes), laughing manically, riding the horse almost into the fence, stopping, turning, and flapping the reins around. Not riding well, mind you, but actually up on the horse, apparently without fear. And Conrad was down there on the studio floor with the horse prancing about, keeping out of the way of Adams’ spear (Spear? Yup. Never mind). So everything could have gone very poorly but seemingly did not since we have the episode in front of us to prove it. I found the whole things suprising and fascinating and couldn’t take my eyes off of the horse sequence. Like ….Wow! It was scary! Really scary!
*Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Viewers with minds not unlike my own (in the gutter) should take in the gents’ mud-wrestling sequence (I kid you not) between a shirtless Robert Conrad and one of the “heavies” in the episode. Oh, and Artie wore a sarong for most of the show (also part of the plot) so there were plenty of bare chests to go around.