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|Index||51 reviews in total|
"Combat!" was the most realistic, exciting and emotional show in television history. This gem about a squad of soldiers battling it out in WWII after D-Day did not glorify war, though there were lots and lots of actions scenes and firefights, but instead focused on the individual soldier and how he dealt with the war personally and as part of a brotherhood. Terrific writing, superb direction, believable characters and slam band action were the trademarks of this true TV classic. Big name directors and actors lined up to become part of the show which ran for 5 seasons and 152 episodes on ABC and has developed a huge following to this day. The series regulars were superb and believeable. Vic Morrow, Rick Jason, Jack Hogan, Piere Jalbert, Dick Peabody and Conlan Carter all shone on thier own unique ways. The characters of Saunders, Hanley, Kirby, Caje, Littlejohn and Doc have become etched in our minds forever. "Caje, take the point" was a phrase uttered quite often as myself and my childhood friends would act out the episode of Combat! we just watched and now as adults we see the show in all it's glory we may have overlooked as children. My only "complaint" about the show as in any show with recurring characters, we knew our heroes would not perish. We knew they would get the job done because there was another to do next week. As an adult, it lessens the tension a wee bit but who really cares? These are our heroes and we want them to succeed, not die and the characters and actors pull it off so well, it really becomes a mute point. I loved that the Germans actually spoke German. so what if we didn't know what they were saying? Whatever it was, it had to be bad and something that could hurt our beloved squad. My biggest disappointment through all this praise, and I feel it is important, is the lack of respect Combat! gets in the mainstream. Fine, it can stay our "little secret" but please, let's give credit where credit is due! this was the finest example of dramatic television in the mediums history! Let's recognize that! Let's not forget about it! When classic TV is discussed, let's not forget Combat! Please don't push it aside and bury it like the mainstream has! It is an important show and one that should be seen again and never forgotten. And how about giving Vic Morrow a star on the hollywood walk of fame!
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!
From its pixellated artillery airbursts above fixed bayonets title
that seguéd into its rousing march theme, to the end of each show I was
fascinated child. Of course the core of Sgt. Saunders's squad lived
more combat than most WWII infantrymen (casualty figures for the period
that it was extremely unusual for a unit to have made from Normandy to the
Siegfied Line with all its members in combat-ready mental & physical
health). And you knew that nearly every guest actor (fresh from the repo
depot) would be the casualty in nearly every episode.
I used to think that Rick Jason as Lt. Hanley was soooo handsome! But I best loved Pierre Jalbert as Caje - ruggedly handsome, stoical, lethal to Germans in a firefight. "Caje, take the point," said it all: when Chip Saunders's chips were down he put Caje out front. (Jalbert is a Québecois, not a Louisiana Cajun, which explains his squad-saving fluency in French.)
There was another WWII TV series, 'The Gallant Men', that debuted the same season as 'Combat!' Even as a child I picked up on the rifle fire sound effects paradox between the two shows: in 'Combat!' the M-1 Garands made the the sound of the German Mausers in 'The Gallant Men', but in 'The Gallant Men' the sound effects swapped weapons & armies! I always liked 'Combat!' better than 'The Gallant Men' so that when 'The Gallant Men' was cancelled after one season I thought the better show had survived.
'Combat!'s' writers & directors did well for their time. This was long before gore was shown graphically on TV or in cinema, but the scripts tried hard, and often succeeded, in conveying the privation, filth, & stress of infantry fighting. My uncle is a veteran of Omaha Beach & he didn't think 'Combat!' was realistic, though he never said a word about his own wartime experiences: I suspect they were more like those of the first thirty minutes of 'Saving Private Ryan' & that he wasn't eager to revisit those times even though it's certain they never left him.
'Combat!' often made the German soldiers look like robotic dolts - which they most certainly were not (stats tell grimly that German soldiers inflicted more casulaties per man than any other WWII army). But it's important to be mindful that 'Combat! is Hollywood, not the European Theater of Operations.
For now, gang: "Checkmate King Two to White Rook: Out." (Not bad for a girl, huh?!)
I was a grade schooler during the years that Combat showed on Tuesday nights. My father was wounded and captured in the Battle of the Bulge and served four months as a POW, before being liberated on April 14, 1945. He always said the show was very realistic and now that I am in my mid-forties and a WWII buff virtually my entire life, I fully agree with him. The men in the squad are very similar to those in Saving Private Ryan. They are scared, weary, and somewhat disillusioned, but nevertheless determined to carry out their roles in the great World War II. Uniforms, equipment, and the sets all look authentic. I have a question for those who enjoyed this series. Where does it show on television these days? I have access to many tv channels but cannot find Combat anywhere. Please advise.
I was all of 4 years old when Combat first aired and 9 when it went off the air. But to this day, I still fondly remember that show. The Combat theme and most of the music for the show is hard to forget. I remember wanting to be like Sergent Saunders---tough but compassionate. And even though, I later started to realize that the squad probably went through a division (ok....maybe not a division.....but at least a regiment) all by itself in the 150 plus episodes, that never detracted from the tension, thrills, and emotion the shows provided. All the regulars did such a great job portraying their characters, I sometimes had a hard time remembering it was only a show and that they were actors. When an ensemble cast can do that, you know they have to be good. And all the great guest stars...too many to mention. This was what TV was meant to be. I just bought the first seasons' dvds and I will definitely continue to purchase the rest of the seasons.
Combat was realistic because the producers worked extensively with the
to duplicate details of how soldiers fought. There is a Combat web site
the net that lists episodes and has interviews from the cast including
and Morrow who are dead.
Jason has the most revealing comments. He was suppose to carry the machine gun that Saunders carried. Apparently it was common for the junior officers to have the machine gun. However as an avid hunter and gun user he knew how heavy it would be carry the gun around during the long shoots. Eventually they made a lighter wooden replica for Saunders to carry.
Morrow hated guns according to Jason and would not even shoot skeet with him. Jason said Morrow was one of the most talented directors on the show. Jason's best episodes he said are the ones that Morrow directed such as The Pillbox. My favorite story was Jason's retelling of Morrow's direction for the two parter Hills are for Heroes.
The two part episode took 21 extra days to shoot and cost ABC an extra $300,000. They sent memos complaining to Morrow about the extra time and money that the two part episode cost them. According to Jason, Morrow used the ABC memos to light his cigarettes!
"Combat" was my favorite TV series of the sixties, depicting life in World War II Europe. The stories were extremely well written and the action never stopped. Vic Morrow and Rick Jason did a terrific job in the lead roles and the supporting cast added plenty of spice, especially Jack Hogan as Kirby. My favorite episode was a guest starring performance by Roddy McDowell. Although the series ran five years, by the final season the ratings began to plummet as real-life war scenes from Vietnam made their way to television on the evening news. However, this series now seems timeless as we experience renewed interest in World War II.
Combat!--A hard hitting WWII adventure series that featured top flight writing and character development. Frequently "guest stars" appeared in single episodes, for example Tab Hunter appears as a major league baseball player who eventually proves himself as a combat infantryman. Another guest star was James Coburn as an English speaking German soldier, disguised as an American corporal, whose mission is to infiltrate the American lines. The two lead roles of Lieutenant Hanley and Sergeant Saunders portray realistic combat leaders of World War II. This series represents the zenith in the careers of Rick Jason and Vic Morrow.
Cineastes, just listen to Robert Altman's commentary on "Survival," one of the several early episodes of 'Combat!' that he directed. "If this is not one of the best things I've ever done, I don't know what is," he says (I'm paraphrasing). And he's right. This sixties WW II series is remarkable for its consistently good writing, direction, and acting -- especially acting. Vic Morrow is, in my book, one of the great, underrated, Method-trained actors of his generation. If his career had been on the large screen, he'd be celebrated in the company of Brando, Dean, Clift. With one look Morrow was able to convey exhaustion, disgust, concern, love for his men, and the burdens of duty. There's no one on television today with his subtlety and range. Somebody get that man his star on the Walk of Fame! Or how about a posthumous Emmy award (do they exist?).
When I was growing up I never missed this show. For the time it was a very realistic show with many of the themes. A french boy who is befriended by a German Soldier, only later in the episode to shoot him. Or when Saunders suffers from shell shock and carries a dead German soldier thinking it is his brother. The show was on longer than the actual war itself, but it never seemed to be boring because it was well written. The cast was excellent and portrayed many of the horrible aspects of war to kids of my age, who were also reading Sgt Rock comic books at he time. I enjoyed this show much more than the Gallant Men, which even at the time, I could tell was not written or produced as well as Combat.
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