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I recently had the pleasure of traveling to Los Angeles from Seattle with Ernest Borgnine. I was interested to find out that McHale's Navy was currently not being shown on TV. This show was without a doubt, one of the funniest shows of all time, featuring an ensemble cast that rivals any in the history of TV. I would just like to say to programmers out there, especially at Nick At Night and TV Land, BRING BACK McHALES NAVY! There are generations of young people that have never seen this classic show from TV's golden era, and that is a shame. Writers of todays TV comedies could learn more than a few things about whats funny from watching this wonderful show. It was truly a great example of what results from great writing, acting, and that magic chemistry that only happens once in a great while when you have a great ensemble cast.
I started watching this in reruns in the mid-sixties. I'd watch it
while having lunch on a stool in my kitchen in Oakland California.
It just blew me away. There I was - spraying avocado & sprouts sandwiches & salads all over the kitchen in uncontrollable hysteria - 3 or 4 gut-wrenching laughs for every chew-&-swallow.
Never since have I ever seen a show - TV series or feature film - with as great a complement of genuinely riotously talented comedians as McHale's Navy: Tim Conway, Joe Flynn, Carl Ballantine (comic magician on Ed Sullivan), Bob Hastings, Billy Sands. Even Gavin McLeod was on board & Ernest Borgnine gave it authority & glue! It was brilliant; as far as I'm concerned on a par with the Marx brothers & Abbott & Costello. Ageless & priceless!!!
So where's the DVD?
After years of playing primarily dramatic roles, Ernest Borgnine really
shines as the lovable con man Commander Quentin McHale. I loved
but you can see where that show got its inspiration. The supporting cast
was also great, especially Joe Flynn playing his usual hot tempered
authority figure in Captain Binghamton and Tim Conway playing the role
made him famous, the nerdish Ensign Parker.
This show is so funny you often wonder if we had a navy like this, how did we win the war.
I know this was Ernest Borgnine's show, and though he played it too
broadly sometimes, he was still pretty good in it. However, the main
reason I watched the show was for Joe Flynn's Captain Binghamton and
Tim Conway's Ensign Parker. Binghamton was always trying to nail McHale
and his crew (he kept calling them "you and your pirates") and some of
his schemes to get rid of them were hilarious, especially when, as
usual, they blew up in his face. Conway's eager but almost totally
incompetent Ensign Parker was a a joy to watch, due to Conway's comic
genius. It was side-splitting to watch him squirm, stutter and
completely fall apart whenever he was given any kind of responsibility
at all; he'd try to do a good job, and it usually worked out in the
end, but what happened in between was always good for a lot of laughs.
I especially enjoyed watching him totally dissolve whenever Claudine
Longet put the moves on him. Conway was one of TV's great clowns, as
shown by his work on "The Carol Burnett Show," and he's at the top of
his form; he had the amazing ability to move his body in three or four
different directions at the same time--he would look like a marionette
with the strings tangled--and that combined with his twitches, facial
expressions and look of total incomprehension was a riot. Another actor
I really enjoyed was Bob Hastings, who played Binghamton's loyal,
long-suffering and abused underling, Lt. Carpenter. Carpenter was the
ultimate company man, so eager to please his boss that he gladly
entered into whatever lame-brained scheme Binghamton cooked up to
discredit McHale ("Oh, good-o, sir, that's brilliant!"), which usually
wound up with Binghamton's shifting the blame to him whenever it went
wrong--which Carpenter, of course, always readily accepted ("I'm sorry,
sir, of course it was all my fault"). Carl Ballantine's scheming
Gruber, always on the lookout to make a (usually dishonest) buck, was a
lot of fun, too.
I think the series lost a bit of steam when the location was moved from the South Pacific to Italy, and some of the supporting cast was somewhat weak (Gavin McLeod's Happy was especially annoying), but overall it was a very funny, enjoyable show, with some great byplay between Flynn and Conway.
I have always enjoyed Mchale's Navy, it has to be one of my all time
favourite shows. The show was immensely popular in Australia during the
1960's and has returned regularly since then. The show joins many of
those other TV SitComs of that 'Golden Era' of television, such as:
Batman, Gilligan's Island, The Addams Family, Gomer Pyle, USMC and many
more that kept us amused.
I always made sure I was home from school and seated in time for the show every Monday to Friday to see the wacky adventures of McHale and his crew as they managed to get themselves into yet another 'mess' in their daily battle of wits with their strictly by the book Captain Wallace B. Binghamton and Lieutenant Carpenter.
Ernest Borgnine has always been one of my favourite actors and his portrayal of the long suffering LTCOMDR Quinton McHale was first rate. McHale always seemed to have his hands full trying to keep his 'bunch of eight balls' in line, as well as have to contend with his bumbling Exec Officer, Ensign Parker (Tim Conway).
I thought Ernest Borgnine made the show, being the go-between his men and his stern CO, Capt Binghamton. McHale was always concocting some scheme to get his men off the hook with Binghamton, sometimes himself too, after they got into some mishap or other. Capt, Binghamton was also forever trying to invent some scheme to get McHale and his 'Pirates' shipped out, inevitably this backfired on the good Captain someway or another.
I still enjoy this show, it's as every bit as entertaining now as it was back in those good old days.
"McHale's Navy" manages to present THE PERFECT take on "War-Time
Comedy", (eclipsed only by "M*A*S*H"). Some may point to "Hogan's
Heroes" as being superior, but while I enjoyed that as a kid, nowadays
I cannot get past "Hogan's Heroes"' simple-minded take on The Nazis and
sugar-coated fantasy prison camp setting. The Nazis were NOT
simple-minded, easily-fooled buffoons, and "Hogan's Heroes" is an
insult to the ordeals endured by every Allied POW in WW2.
McHale's Navy" on the other hand,never insults the intelligence of The Viewer by taking too many broad liberties with history. The Japanese in Mchale's Navy are a serious enemy,(save for the harmless "Fuji" the escaped POW given shelter by McHale and Crew).
In "McHale's Navy", The REAL Enemy is..... THE BRASS!
That's where honest War-Time Comedy is meant to derive from,and where it is at it's best. When you spotlight the overly- officious asininity of The Higher Ranks, you get Genuine Comedy. It's a Truth that Ernie Pyle, Bill Mauldin, Floyd Gibbons and Richard Hooker understood; and that Truth is showcased no where better than in "McHale's Navy".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While the 1950s may have been the TV boom in the US, the 1960s was when
family entertainment really took a prime spot. 'McHale's Navy' ran
while I was in high school and college, and was one of those TV series
that most families set time aside to watch each week.
Ernest Borgnine was the nominal star of the series as Lt. Cmdr. Quinton McHale. He was earnest and mostly by the book, but his foil was the very funny Tim Conway who was the bumbling Ensign Charles Parker. Parker was everything that McHale was not, and a good portion of McHale's energy was fixing situations that Parker got them and the crew in.
And finally, Joe Flynn was perfect as their commanding officer, Capt. Wallace B. Binghamton. He was the stereotype, the half wit commander who only vaguely knew what was going on, and while trying to keep tabs on McHale and his crew, was usually in the process of being outwitted by them.
I very entertaining comedy series, I watch old episodes whenever I can catch them. As well as old episodes of the Carol Burnett show where Conway was an even bigger comedy hoot!
My memories of watching this show coincide with the same days I used to stay home sick from, and in some cases "sick of," school. I loved staying home and watching the wacky adventures of McHale and his crew. Borgnine's big smiling face made him sort of my best buddy and his crew my extended family. I think the best appeal of the show was that it seemed to pay homages to so many of my favorites: Gilligan's Island, Hogan's Heroes, F Troop, The Andy Griffith Show and Get Smart just to name a few. Conway's character had a lot of Barney Fife in him, and the surreal humor reminded me a lot of Night Court. Maybe that's what makes a show a classic; by it's way to reinvent comedy where everyone can find some interest in it.
Who can resist the comic talent of Tim Conway? Further, who can resist
both Conway and Flynn on the same show to "play off" one another? The
result is hysterical. I recently bought this first season, after having
seen McHale's Navy (the 1960s movie) and McHale's Navy Joins the Air
Force. I had enjoyed them both, but was unaware that the original TV
show is now available for purchase.
I am always sad that nowadays, comedians are vulgar and crude and do not need to have ANY talent in order to be popular. True comedy is one of the toughest things for an actor to portray well. Any fool can spew forth obscenities for a cheap laugh, but true comedy requires something more. Joe Flynn and Tim Conway both have that "something more" I am referring to. You will know what I am talking about if you watch any of these old episodes.
What a delightful television show with good writing and decent acting.
"McHale's Navy" is probably one of the classiest and the most funniest
sitcom of its day to ever depict the misadventures of a misfit band of
recruits who are in command and in charge of a PT Cruiser Boat during the
scenes around a Naval Military Base on a secured island in the South Pacific
in World War II,under the command of Lt. Cmdr. Quinton McHale(Ernest
Borgnine),and his commanding officer who keeps a watchful eye on McHale and
his crew,Capt.Wallace Binghamton(Joe Flynn),and Binghamton's nerdish
assistant Ensign Charles Parker(Tim Conway). This show had it all with some
of the funniest stuff I've ever seen and believe me some of the hijinks that
McHale and his band of recruits get into is enough right there to steal the
thunder of the show,courtesy of not only the 'big smiling face' of Ernest
from Tim Conway who hilarious situations made the show itself stand out,and
it would prove the standing point when he would go on to host his own
show,and from there into an nine-year hiatus for "The Carol Burnett Show".
Oh yeah,lets not forget Joe Flynn as well,since him and Conway were the
perfect comedy team and with them in this series it would have not survive.
This series also had some familiar faces here as well including several
actors who would go on to make a name for themselves,including actor Gavin
MacLeod,who played Private First Class
Joesph "Happy" Haines.
It was from this series that MacLeod would go to do other roles as well including a seven-year stint on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show",and from there as Captain Stubbing on "The Love Boat". This series also had singing sensation Billy Sands as "Tinkerbell",and many more. "McHale's Navy",ran on ABC-TV for five seasons from 1962 to 1966 and produced 138 episodes,all in black and white and produced by Revue Productions/Universal Studios in Hollywood. During the show's five year-run,since studios executives at Universal,which produced the series,decided that the cast should make the jump from the small screen to the big screen,producing three theatrical features for the studio,and this time around they were to be produced in color....... "McHale's Navy"(1964),"McHale's Navy Joins The Air Force"(1965),and the final,"McHale's Navy Joins The Army"(1965)while the TV series was still on the air,and the TV series was still in black and white.
What killed McHale's Navy after being a great hit? During the show's final season(1965-1966)McHale,and his crew along with Binghamton and Parker,not to mention Binghamton's second Lt. Carpenter,were all shipped from the operations in the South Pacific to the operations of Europe,where they were shipped to Italy to fight against the Germans. In the Pacific,they were up against the Japanese,but the Germans? That what killed the show,and from there the laughter stopped after five seasons.
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