Wild Wild West TV movies get home video release

Robert Conrad, right, in a publicity still with Ross Martin for The Wild Wild West

TV movie revivals of The Wild Wild West from 1979 and 1980 are getting a separate home video release, according to the TV Shows on DVD website.

The Wild Wild West Revisited and More Wild Wild West were released in 2008 as part of a complete series release of the original 1965-69 series.

However, according to TV Shows on DVD, the two TV movies are being released as a double feature in June by CBS/Paramount.

Both TV movies included the original stars, Robert Conrad and Ross Martin. Both were directed by Burt Kennedy and produced by Robert L. Jacks, with Jay Bernstein as executive producer.

The Wild Wild West Revisited was written by William Bowers. In its original broadcast, More Wild Wild West had Bowers sharing the writing credit with another scribe, Tony Kayden. But at least some subsequent TV releases had Bowers getting sole writing credit.

Both TV movies had a much lighter tone than the original show. Still, Conrad and Martin were in fine form, the best reason to watch both.

The Wild Wild West Revisited is set in 1885, with the agents summoned from retirement to combat Miguelito Loveless Jr. (Paul Williams), who has mastered cloning and the construction of atomic bombs.

More Wild Wild West is set in 1890, when our heroes are again taken from retirement to combat a Albert Paradine II (Jonathan Winters), who has a pair of “Hulks” to do his bidding. (CBS was airing The Incredible Hulk TV show at the time.)

Also making an appearance is Victor Buono, as a character modeled after Henry Kissinger. Buono was the villain in the original show’s pilot and played Count Manzeppi in two second-season episodes.

Neither TV movie is the best The Wild Wild West has to offer but if you have all four seasons of the original series, it’s worth completing your collection.

For more information: WILD, WILD WEST?

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Richard Markowitz’s wild wild TV scoring career

A sampling of Richard Markowitz's title cards.

A sampling of Richard Markowitz’s title cards.

Another in a series about unsung heroes of television.

Composer Richard Markowitz, over more than three decades, produced one of the most memorable television themes and contributed to many series.

Yet, more than 20 years after his death, Markowitz is far from a household name. With each passing year, Markowitz passes further into obscurity, save for those few (led by writer Jon Burlingame) who follow the careers of television composers.

Markowitz’s primary legacy is the theme to The Wild Wild West. The composer scored the pilot to the 1965-69 series’ pilot. Originally, CBS hired Dimitri Tiomkin (who earlier wrote the theme song to the network’s Rawhide series) to write the show’s theme song.

According to a Markowitz audio interview that’s an extra on the season one set of The Wild Wild West, producer Michael Garrison didn’t want the Tiomkin theme (which Markowitz described as a ballad). Markowitz, according to this account, was a last-minute hire. Markowitz, in the interview, says he was paid considerably less than Tiomkin.

Regardless, Markowitz came up with a classic theme. During the run of the show, Markowitz only received a credit (“Music Composed and Conducted by”) for episodes he scored. (According to his IMDB.COM ENTRY, that was 29 of the show’s 104 episodes). He wasn’t credited for the theme.  Thus, when other composers did scores for the show, there was no mention of Markowitz.

It wasn’t until 1979’s The Wild Wild West Revisited TV movie that Markowitz an on-screen credit for his greatest creation. The theme showed up in a scene in the 1999 Wild Wild West theatrical movie, but the composer yet again didn’t get an on-screen credit.

Also, according to that same audio interview, Markowitz had clashes with Morton Stevens, who took charge of CBS’s West Coast music operation in the spring of 1965. That contributed to Markowitz not being around when the show concluded with the 1968-69 season.

Despite that, Markowitz had too much talent for other television productions to ignore.

Quinn Martin’s QM Productions hired him frequently (including 16 original scores for The FBI, an episode of The Invaders and some episodes of The Streets of San Frnacisco). He scored nine episodes of Mission: Impossible, including the show’s only three-part story. Universal’s TV operation was another frequent employer, including 71 episodes of Murder, She Wrote.

Markowitz died on Dec. 6, 1994 at the age of 68.

New Skyfall trailer debuts, first Silva dialogue included

The newest Skyfall trailer debuted today on the official 007.com at 2 p.m. in the U.K. and 9 a.m. ET in the U.S. After a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot of Javier Bardem’s villain Silva in an NBC commeercial last week, the new trailer includes Silva’s first dialogue. Silva, indeed, is supposed to be blonde.

The trailer also indicates that director Sam Mendes & Co. have borrowed from a literary device Ian Fleming used in his 1964 novel You Only Live Twice. Those who’ve read the book will instantly recognize it.

Finally, the trailer uses a more traditional version of the James Bond Theme. If you haven’t seen it already, take a look:

UPDATE I: The trailer at least partially confirms some fan analysis of clues (some of it based on call sheets and storyboards that were sold on eBay). Bond goes missing, lives the soft life for a while and has to get into shape for a new mission.

That’s not unlike Robert Conrad’s James West in The Wild, Wild West Revisited in 1979, a TV-movie that was played more for laughs than the original 1965-69 series. (And no, we’re not saying that’s a deliberate influence, just noting the coincidence.)

UPDATE II: An amusing Tweet from “Ernst Stavro Blofeld” (well, one of them):

So in #SKYFALL Bond gets ‘killed’ and comes back to life. Haven’t we seen this movie before? #YouOnlyLiveTwice

UPDATE III: This morning we embedded the international trailer. Here’s the somewhat different U.S. trailer:

How the ex-spies fared in Hawaii Five-O season 11


We finally caught up with the Hawaii Five-O season 11 set that we informally dubbed the ex-spy edition. So we watched the episodes featuring guest stars who had previously portrayed spies and made a few notes about the performances of series star Jack Lord, who had been the screen’s first Felix Leiter in Dr. No. WARNING: spoilers await.

Ross Martin (Number One With a Bullet parts I and II, Stringer): The former Artemus Gordon from The Wild, Wild West makes the strongest impression of the guest star ex-spies. In all three episodes, he plays crime boss Tony Alika, the head of the Hawaiian mob the Kumu.

In the two-part Number One With a Bullet, aka the “disco” episode, he gets limited screen time in a storyline involving a clash between Alika and a Mainland crime boss (Nehemiah Persoff) for control of Hawaii’s discos and music industry. But Martin draws the viewer’s attention whenever he’s on the screen, including when he verbally jousts with Jack Lord’s Steve McGarrett.

Martin returned for another episode, Stringer, in which free-lance photographer Paul Williams takes photos of Alika having a meeting with a public official and attempts to commit blackmail. Martin’s Alika gets more screen time as the primary villain. Going into one commericial break, Alika’s evil laugh continues over the Five-O logo. Evidently, the actor made an impression with the production team because he’d be brought back for the show’s final season. Meanwhile, Martin and Williams would work together again a short while later in the 1979 television movie The Wild, Wild West Revisited, with Williams as the son of Dr. Loveless.

Robert Vaughn (The Spirit is Willie): The one-time Napoleon Solo got “special guest star” billing and Vaughn’s phony psychic is the episode’s villain. By this time, Vaughn mostly played bad guys so if you’ve ever seen one of those performances, that’s more or less what you have here. Vaughn is a poster child for bad 1970s fashion, wearing a leisure suit whose shirt is unbuttoned at least one button too far.

The episode is a sequel to a 10th season story involving a mystery writer who likes to also solve real-life mysteries. Thus, Mildred Natwick’s Millicen Shand character gets more of the attention.

George Lazenby's wardrobe in The Year of the Horse wasn't as nice as in OHMSS


George Lazenby (The Year of the Horse): Lazenby, a decade removed from playing James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, also gets “special guest star” billing but is clearly a secondary villain. He appears in a very non-Bondian manner. He sports a baggy three-piece white suit, white hat and wears sandals. He also has a mustache and a few days growth of beard. However, he definitely comes across as a better actor than his one 007 film.

Disappointingly, Lazenby doesn’t have any scenes with Jack Lord, so we don’t get to see a meeting between movie Leiter No. 1 and film Bond No. 2. Most of Lazenby’s scenes are with Barry Bostwick, an Annapolis graduate presumed killed during the Vietnam War who’s now involved with drug smuggling. Lazenby and Bostwick are buddies, but Lazenby’s character is dispatched when he attempts to double cross Bostwick.

The two-hour episode takes place in Singapore and was actually filmed there. It was the season’s final episode and is also the final appearance in the series of James MacArthur’s Danno, who, as it turns out, really doesn’t get much to do. Which leads us to:

Jack Lord (series star): Lord didn’t get an executive producer credit but by this time his control of the show was so tight he probably should have. In earlier seasons, you’d have occasional episodes built around the supporting cast, but that became more rare as the series progressed.

Lord’s McGarrett by the 11th season, was also wearing leisure suits, favoring a very dark Navy blue one (if you CLICK HERE it’s described as being black but the revamped picture quality of the DVDs makes it look very, very dark blue to us). At least he kept his shirt buttoned, so it’s not as much of a distraction. He also sometimes shows up with a gray leisure suit.

McGarrett also gets preachier here than in earlier seasons. That trend began in the 10th season and it gets worse in the final season. Still, he’s still McGarrett and if you liked his take on the character, there’s nothing here to cause you to reverse that judgment.

There is the issue of McGarrett’s age. In the second season episode “Blind Tiger,” it was implied that the Big Kahuna was in his mid-30s, so he should at least be close to 45 in season 11. Death Is a Company Policy, the first show of the fifth season, gave McGarrett a 1926 birth date, meaning he would be 52 or 53 when season 11 ends, depending on the specific date. And actor Lord turned 58 in December 1978. Yet, in The Year of the Horse, which aired in the spring of 1979, one of George Lazenby’s lackeys (who’s about to be killed) describes McGarrett as being “40, 42.” Lord looks pretty good for 58, but there’s no way he looked that young.