#33 - "A Double Shot of Nepenthe"
This episode relies on a very common plot device, use of a drug or other mind control technique to turn people into automatons under control of a mad doctor, dictator or other power hungry bad guy. In this case, Dr. Duvain has created a mind control drug so powerful he can get a man to push his best friend off a cliff then jump off himself. Duvain is working with Jake Murdock who wants the Captain killed as revenge for sending him to prison. Duvain decides that to properly test his drug, a Ranger must kill the Captain. The first Ranger he comes across in Laredo is Reese who is extolling the virtues of Captain Parmalee. After first drugging Reese's drink, the doctor begins giving Reese injections.
Chad, Joe and the Captain become concerned over Reese's strange behavior. He admires Erik's despised garish clothes, drinks brandy from a snifter, bathes daily, wears a necktie and lets an outlaw escape without any effort to stop him. Reese also becomes unusually suggestible. When Chad tells him to go soak his head, Reese immerses himself in a horse trough. When the Captain puts him in jail for tearing up the saloon (at a buddy's suggestion), he crawls under his bunk when the captain tells him to get lost.
Chad cracks the mystery of Reese's behavior when he notices that Reese's bouts of total suggestibility coincide with his being shown a $5 gold piece. Chad follows Reese to Duvain's room when he goes to get an injection and sees Jake Murdock. Chad checks out the doctor and finds he an expert on chemistry. Chad starts reading a stack of books on chemistry and the brain, despite Joe's concern that now he's becoming strange like Reese. Chad convinces Captain Parmalee of his theory. The Captain accompanies Reese to the doctor's room where the doctor commands Reese to shoot the Captain. The Captain having had the foresight to empty Reese's gun, isn't too concerned. He has a shoot-out with Murdock and takes the doctor into custody.
NiteOwl Review: We liked this episode more than most of the others this season despite its being hampered by William Smith's real life injury which required his character to be immobile for the entire show. The writer covered this up by having him lying in his bunk for his first scene, not an unusual position for Joe who was always slipping in a nap whenever he could. His next scene has him being carried in supposedly shot in the leg when he and Chad pinned down the Dawkins brothers in a line shack. Of course, the notion that Joe would leave Chad to fend for himself while Joe turned tail with a mere leg wound was not in character. In Joe's third scene he's taunting Chad for his heavy reading while recovering from his leg wound. In the last scene of the episode, a stuntman is tossed out of the saloon by Reese suffering residual effects of his drugged state and the camera cuts to Parmalee and Chad helping Joe get up. Normally William Smith never let stunt men do any of his fight work.
Our Favorite Scene: Chad is scouring a stack of books on chemistry and the workings of the brain. Joe is like a little kid, perturbed that he can't get Chad's attention. He surmises that Chad is falling under the same infirmity that clouded Reese's brain. He grabs the book Chad is reading and tells him to get some rest. He tries stumbling through the book himself but can't pronounce the bigger words. Chad protests that he's just trying to find out what's the matter with Reese. Joe says he knows what's the matter with Reese. All the dumbness he's stored up over the years just broke out all at once. Chad retorts, that Joe better watch out because his shows signs of busting through.
Reese is injected with mind-altering
drugs as part of a plot to kill Parmalee
First Victims: One friend happily
pushs his best friend off a cliff
Dr. Duvain and Jack Murdock
snifter of Brandy
So Reese jumps in
a horse trough
Chad makes the silver coin connection
Fearing for Chad's mental state,
Joe tries to grab his book
A stuntman is tossed out of the saloon
Joe is helped to his feet
Original air date Sep 30, 1966
Directed by Abner Biberman
Written by Gene L. Coon
Neville Brand as Reese Bennett
Peter Brown as Chad Cooper
William Smith as Joe Riley
Robert Wolders as Erik Hunter
Phil Carey as Capt. Parmalee
Will Kuluva as Dr. Duvain
Warren Kemmerling as Murdock
Robert B. Williams as Mapes
Leonard P. Geer as Ward
Chug Fisher as old prospector
Don Reiker as Bob Dawkins
Bern Hoffman as Turnkey
Dick Reeves as Farber
George Robotham as Dawkins
David Perna as Jack Slade
Mike Kagan as Collins
Official Peter Brown Fan Site