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Are You Excited About the 'Wild, Wild West' Remake?

by Bob Sassone, posted Nov 11th 2010 5:20PM
The Wild, Wild WestThe people who create remakes of classic TV shows seem to like them more than TV viewers. Sure, once in a while we get a hit like the new 'Hawaii Five-0,' but the success of that show is probably less about the quality and more about how it fits into the CBS formula and its time slot.

The 'Battlestar Galactica' reboot was successful because they completely re-imagined the series -- and let's face it, the original wasn't that hot to begin with. 'The Bionic Woman' redo died a quick and painful death.

Now comes word that 'Battlestar Galactica' producer Ron Moore is going to do a new version of 'The Wild, Wild West' for CBS. This both thrills and terrifies me to my very core.

(I could have embedded the opening of the premiere episode, but I like the one where he punches the lady instead of just kissing her.)

The original 'Wild, Wild West' -- seemingly named as much for the lead character as much as the setting of the show -- was a really fun mixture of traditional Old West plots and sci-fi scenarios. Government agents James T. West (master of fighting and painted-on pants) and Artemus Gordon (master of disguise and gadgets) traveled around the country on a cool train fighting enemies of the United States. It's the type of TV show that seems really ripe for a remake. It's 40 years old and has all of the things that a new generation could find cool in the 21st century: a hero who has a small gun that shoots out of his shirt sleeve, a pimped-out train with secret compartments and a bar and crazy villains bent on either controlling the world or destroying part of it (so they could rule what was left).

It was great back then and could be fun today, and that's partly what scares me about the reboot.

Wouldn't it be great to have a standard, traditional Western on TV again? And not "standard" and "traditional" in the negative sense, but a Western that is more about horses and posses and saloons and relationships and the happenings of small Western towns. You know that a modern Western is going to focus more on the gadgets and the fancy camera work and the special effects than the stuff you'd find in a more traditional version. Something tells me that cool train will now have a swimming pool and Gordon will invent the first Blackberry so he and West can communicate, or maybe the train can now fly in some way, so West and Gordon can solve crimes in Hawaii too.


Today's producers probably wouldn't make a truly traditional Western -- something like 'Gunsmoke' or 'Bonanza' or 'The Big Valley' or 'Rawhide.' It's not that a quirky, off-kilter Western couldn't work. 'The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.' is one of my favorite shows, and that was a Western about a power-mad villain who was looking for three glowing orbs. 'Outlaws' started out as a typical Western but then the guys went through a time portal and ended up in modern times. Richard Dean Anderson's 'Legend' was fun but was hardly your father's Western. 'Peacemakers' sounded like a traditional Western at first, but then we found out that it was 'CSI' in the West. Kind of a cool idea but again, a Western with a twist. CBS did try with 'The Magnificent Seven' but it didn't last long.

Remember 'Legacy?' It was pretty much a traditional Western, but it lasted for only one season. There have been a few other shows set in that era, but they've been more family-oriented shows -- 'Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman' and 'Little Men' come to mind -- and not shows about guys shooting at each other. Unless it was 'Walker, Texas Ranger,' but that was a modern show, and it had more kicking than shooting.

'Deadwood' was a great show, but with its almost Shakespearean dialogue and messy morality, it wasn't traditional either.

TV doesn't seem to want to do Westerns in a that way. You're more likely to see remakes of Westerns like 'The Wild, Wild West' -- a show with a modern twist already -- instead of 'The Rifleman.' The same with private eye shows. Private eyes are more "private investigator" these days. Gone are hard, chain-smoking private eyes with an office like Mike Hammer. They've been replaced by quirky characters who happen to solve crimes on shows like 'Psych' and 'Monk,' or they're spies on shows like 'Burn Notice.' All fine shows, but the genre has changed (though TNT is working on a P.I. show set in '50s L.A.). Same with Westerns. Maybe they think modern TV viewers won't want to see something "old-fashioned," TV industry code for "without quick edits and less sex."

So Mr. Moore, go ahead and remake 'The Wild, Wild West.' I look forward to any Western on TV. I know you have to keep the more outlandish elements of the show, but at the same time fans hope you remember the saloons and the horses and the fights and the dusty cowboy hats. Also remember -- though most of us are trying to forget -- what happened when Will Smith and Kevin Kline stepped into the boots of Robert Conrad and Ross Martin. Remember what happened in that movie and then, you know, do the opposite.

Are you looking forward to the new 'Wild, Wild West?'
Yes, I'd love to see a new take on the show.843 (24.5%)
Yes, but only if it's a lot like the old show.1683 (48.9%)
No way! I'm sick of TV remakes!915 (26.6%)

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Will Smith should have been Arty in the movie-remake. Perhaps this remake will be as good as BSG? I don't want to get my hopes up, yet the creater of this new series has had success in the past with remakes. The original episode where West gets dropped off in Paradox City, I thought was really Great! I hope the show stays a smart SCi-fi western, and not get dumbed down (like the new Tron) for general audiences. In the words of the great Count Manzeppi... goodnight!

April 16 2011 at 8:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I would love to see a remake of the Wild Wild West if done PROPERLY.
There were two major problems with the movie, number one being Will Smith as Jim West. The time period is during Grant's presidency and the idea of an African American being the leading agent was preposterous. There is no way he would blend in during those years which would prohibit effectiveness as a secret agent. Next, there were the effects. When the television show was done, the writers and producers carefully researched what was available technologically between 1869 and 1877. At times they tweaked things by a couple of years, but nothing was outside of the realm of possibility. The film version, however, was absurd.
If they remake the show, it should be realistic. It also needs to cast an extremely attractive and athletic male as James West. The person cast as Artemis Gordon needs to be charismatic and believable as a genius. Most importantly the two leads need CHEMISTRY! I need to believe that these guys are best friends and will go to the mat for one another like Robert Conrad and Ross Martin.

November 14 2010 at 8:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tom kelly

Well...if they can come up with a James T. West to give little boys boners like they did last time....I hope he looks better, 40 years later, than I do.

November 12 2010 at 5:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I watched www as a kid and never missed an episode. That and Star Trek were the 2 faves of mine. It may have been only a moderate success but the whole premise of the show was excellant and if done right could make it again and perhaps even better than the first one.

November 12 2010 at 3:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

great call on Brisco County Jr.!! Fox made a HUGE mistake when they cancelled it. It was fun & funny, smart & clever, a great mixture of old & modern. It put Bruce Campbell on the map & made him charming, sexy & extremely likeable. It also helped launch the career of Kelly Rutherford, as his on-again, off-again love interest - & kept us guessing if they were gonna get into a fist fight or fall into bed together. definately a must own series! i think my favorite episode was the western version of 'psyco'!! great fun!!

November 12 2010 at 2:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
von ames

The Wild, Wild West movie with Will Smith, Kevin Kline etc. was one of the WORST movies ever made. Whoever was responsible for that MESS should have nothing to do with a new TV series.

November 12 2010 at 2:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I absolutely love westerns. I really liked the tv remake of "Magnificent Seven" from a few years ago, with Eric Close, Anthony Starke, etc.

November 12 2010 at 1:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I grew up in the late 50s and 60s and watched most of all the westerns mentioned -- face it, I was a TV kid.

But I always had my favorites and my list of best quirky westerns were:

Maverick, Wild Wild West, Alias Smith and Jones and The Adventures of Biscoe County Jr.

I do wish Carlton Cruse would come up with a tv movie script that would give satisfying closure to Brisco and Company. They kind of let a lot of things hanging.

Long Live Bruce Campbell! (That you Burn Notice).

November 12 2010 at 1:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I look forward to this remake with one exception even though Will Smith did great and I loved the movie it was unrealistic for a black man to play the lead. A black man in that time period would have faced too many "hardships" to be effective in that job

November 12 2010 at 1:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was only 10 when it came out, but I was a huuuge fan of The Young Riders. It had every popular western name thrown in there and the pony express for good measure. The WWW could be an interesting addition to have.

November 12 2010 at 1:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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