Connections Between The Wild, Wild West Episode “The Night of the Bottomless Pit” and The Time Tunnel Episode “Devil’s Island”

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If you watch or used to watch TV shows from the 1960’s, it is quite easy to spot connections that are made between popular series. For instance, in 20th Century Fox’s Batman (1966-68) included a lot of material which related to other shows that were airing at the time.

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Werner Klemperer (Colonel Klink of Hogan’s Heroes) once appeared out of a window, dressed like Klink in Batman. The Dynamic Duo, who were climbing up the side of the building, talk to this character and tell him to “say hello to Hogan” for them. In another episode of Batman, Alan Hale Jr. (the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island) played someone working at a small restaurant whom Chief O’Hara addresses as “Gilligan.”

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Alan Hale Jr. also appeared as a main guest star in The Wild, Wild West episode “The Night of the Sabatini Death.” In the close of that episode, his character states that he wants to take a vacation on a desert island; at that comment, Jim West chuckles heartily.

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But I have noticed a very clear association between one episode of The Wild, Wild West and one of Irwin Allen’s The Time Tunnel. The stories of both stories take place on Devil’s Island. In The Time Tunnel episode, simply entitled “Devil’s Island,” the main characters Tony and Doug are transported to the undesirable location where they are mistaken as prisoners who were trying to escape. In “The Night of the Bottomless Pit” from The Wild, Wild West, US secret agents Jim West and Artemus Gordon deliberately infiltrate the prison on Devil’s Island under the guise of a prisoner and a guard.

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Here is where the really interesting similarities arise. “The Night of the Bottomless Pit” was aired on November 4, 1966. And “Devil’s Island” aired on November 11, 1966, just a week after the Devil’s Island story from Wild, Wild West was aired. Theo Marcuse, pictured above in another role, holding a glass bottle in his hands, was a guest star in both of these episodes, portraying a very similar figure: a man in a pith helmet who gives prisoners orders and delights in seeing others suffer. In “Bottomless Pit,” Marcuse plays Comandante Gustave Mauvais, a weak man dressed all in white who is terrified of dirty people. In “Devil’s Island,” Marcuse’s role is not as powerful as the Comandante’s, but he is still in charge of prisoners.

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Also on an interesting note, Fred Carson (best known as a stunt man) played Marcuse’s second’hand man in both of these similar individual TV show episodes, usually displaying little or no emotion. Carson is also not mentioned in The Time Tunnel‘s credits, whereas he is in The Wild, Wild West .episode. In the black and white photo above, Carson is the man in the hat on the right.

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