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Jean Blake Fleming,
Combat!, a one-hour WWII drama series on television, followed a frontline American infantry squad as they battled their way across Europe. With mud-splattered realism, the show offered character studies of men striving to maintain their own humanity in the midst of a world torn by war. Written by
Jo Davidsmeyer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Caje's full name and rank was Pfc. Paul Lemay, Kirby's was Pvt. William G. Kirby, Nelson's was Pvt. Billy Nelson. Littlejohn's first name was never given, and while Saunders on a few occasions was called "Chip" by soldiers who had known him in the past, including Lt. Hanley - who was in the same unit with him when both were NCOs - it was apparently a nickname and his real first name was never given. In season 1, "A Day in June", the D-Day invasion is told in flashback. Then Sgt. Hanley is addressed by a young lady in his company as "Gill" when the men are ordered back to their posts. See more »
Sgt. Chip Saunders:
[a typical "pep talk" to his squad]
... All right, just knock it off. YOU KNOCK IT OFF! You people make me sick. Go on, look at yourselves. You call yourselves a squad? You're a bunch of GOOF-UPS! Littlejohn, you cause nothing but trouble! You mind everybody's business except your own. From now on, you mind your OWN business and you FOLLOW ORDERS! Kirby - KIRBY! You're a hot-headed show-off who thinks of himself first and everybody else second. You fly off the handle every time you turn around! ...
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Recently I began viewing the episodes of "Combat!" in sequence. I had loved this series as a kid, but was concerned that my return would result in serious disappointment. However, I've been really surprised at how strong the show really is, even after all these years!
The early episodes are a bit shaky because the show is still trying to find its feet. The use of Shecky Greene for comedy relief was an interesting idea, but those situations don't really seem to fit the rest of the show. But as I progress, the shows keep getting stronger, more confident. Yes, more happens to this platoon than would happen to any other unit that size. But, it's TV after all and they keep trying to mix up the scenario to add different plot lines.
Some of the themes considered in what I've seen so far: -The struggle of a new man replacing an old vet. -Challenging a collaborationist to help the resistance (with a good ending!) -How the constant stress of war can break men (a popular theme). -A child trying to join the war, then finding out what that really means.
I also beg to differ with one of the comments made by another reviewer. The platoon doesn't always have what they need. On the contrary, many of the episodes have, at the their heart, the platoon struggling with what they don't have or can't do. I applaud the folks who put this show together. I especially applaud the fact that Germans regularly speak German and French characters regularly speak French and there are no subtitles. Yes, these characters speak English when needed. However, the show often has the men struggling with basic communication and "Caje" is always being asked to translate. A nice touch.
So, if you rent this show, you'll get a pretty decent experience. These episodes will not have the graphic violence of today's military pictures. But the show was perfectly ready to grapple with some pretty complex and tough questions. An admirable effort for its time!
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