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"THE RAT PATROL"-Produced by Rich/Mirisch Productions for UATV. Number
of Episodes Produced: 59 episodes in color. Filmed on location in Spain
and parts of Europe. Series ran on ABC-TV.
First Telecast Of The Series: September 12,1966. Last Telecast Of The Series: March 18, 1968. Repeated Episodes aired from March 25,1968 until September 16,1968.
Producer: Lee Rich-Executive in charge of production. Executive Producers: Lee Rich and Walter Mirisch,under Mirisch Productions for United Artists Television.
Stars: Christopher George,Gary Raymond,Jack Moffitt,and Eric Braeden.
Synopsis: Filmed on location in Spain where a great deal of war material was left over from filming of the movies "The Great Escape", and "The Battle Of The Bulge". This was an action-adventure series about a group of American and British soldiers fighting for or against the Germans and "The Rommel" in the North African desert during the days of World War II. This was a grand series that had supreme production values and was in full color to boot,which was the selling point of the series. In other words,this was one action-packed show showing the soldiers each week battling it out over the Germans in the sophisticated "jeeps" through the desert and the adventures they face along the way. This was a series that made stars out of not only actor Christopher George,but also made a career boost out of German-born actor Eric Braeden,who would make a name for himself later on in several television shows and also would boost him to the top of the latter in American daytime television(as Victor Newman on the soap-opera,"The Young And The Restless").
Also to point out,when "THE RAT PATROL" premiered in 1966,this was the only ABC show that depicted WWII in color since the network's longest-running WWII series at the time "COMBAT",and not to mention "TWELVE O CLOCK-HIGH",were still in black and white,but would make the transition to color later on,respectfully in their final seasons. Both of the shows mentioned ran for one hour,while this series ran for an half-hour,with some episodes leading up to a cliffhanger until the next installment.
Also if you notice that every episode had the title "RAID" in it. This was basically a prime example of other shows of the 1960's that before THE RAT PATROL did the same thing with the same title. For example,on the spy drama "The Man From UNCLE"(NBC,1964-1968),every episode had the title "AFFAIR" in it,and the western fantasy/adventure-espionage drama,"The Wild Wild West"(CBS,1965-1969),had the title "NIGHT" in it.
Getting back to the series,THE RAT PATROL,this series had some of the best action sequences out there,especially with some of the episodes which were very good and some were passable. In all,compelling drama mixed with high adventure and breathtaking excitement. It held up brilliantly until the show's final episode on September 16,1968 when it went off the air with a whisper,and from there into syndicated repeats during the 1970's and continue onward into cable re-runs of the early to mid 2000's.
Rarely shown today in syndication, Rat Patrol was a pretty entertaining series, focusing on a small group of British and US soldiers in North Africa during the Second World War. Most episodes dealt with a raid of some kind the patrol would undertake, though often the small raids became larger battles against the Germans (particularly Captain Dietrich and his unit). While you could tell it was produced by Hollywood, the desert environment as well as the great uniforms, vehicles, weapons, and sets gave the series an air of authenticity. While the writing level may have been low in a number of episodes, the action definitely makes up for it, and the actors do well with their limited dramatic scenes. Well worth seeing for anyone interested in World War Two.
I am a child of the seventies having grown up in and around the time and as a kid I can remember this being on in the afternoon and played on Saturday afternoon's. Two of my earliest best friends in this world were named Korey and Coy and we would watch this with great enthusiasm being only age 7 to 9 years old. My father at the time owned a jeep and after the show aired we would go outside and play the Rat Patrol. I always seemed to pick Tully to play because he always drove the jeep and we would spend an hour or two just making up our own adventures as we went along. My memories of this are quite strong when I still watch this series as it reflects a time when I had no worries in the world. I am not a violent person because of this series even for all the explosions and gun play it just makes feel good to watch it and because of that it truly is one of my favorite series of all time.
To disagree with a previous post, The Rat Patrol was filmed in color. As a
mater of fact, the tag before the show aired showed a background of the two
jeeps roaring through the desert with The Rat Patrol -- In Color
superimposed on the shot.
Being that it was filmed in 1966-1968, color was one of the selling points
of the series -- hence all those wonderful shots of military half tracks and
trucks blowing up in huge fireballs.
(Combat was aired in black and white. )
As for the show itself, it wasn't so bad. Sure, some of the scripts were
kind of escapist. However, there were several episodes that were well done.
One involved Sergeant Jack Moffitt (Gary Raymond) coming to grips with the
death of his brother; other episode teamed the Rat Patrol up with the
Germans a couple of times. Once they had to save a little girl who fell
into a well, and another time Americans and Germans had to fend off an Arab
tribe attacking them in some kind of old ruins in the middle of the desert.
Anyway, point being the show was escapist, but is still on the air today. WGN in Chicago airs the show sometimes and other outlets air it, too.
I hate it when people take a show like Rat Patrol, and try to show how smart they are when it comes to being a critic. It wasn't intended to win awards, or be a dramatic masterpiece. One of these reviews used the term escapism, like that single fact makes this show a disgrace. Well, that happens to be why I love this show, and many others from the the 50's, 60's, and 70's. This was before the loosely used term "reality TV", was even close to being thought of. I like to turn on the TV and be entertained by a simple show, that knows it's there to entertain me and take me away for awhile.As a kid I used to stay up until mid-night in the late 70's to watch Rat Patrol. I grew up in the D/FW(Texas) area, and this used to come on after the local Saturday Night Wrestling. And I had a little 13in. black&white TV. I loved it. And now I have both sets of DVD's and I'm over joyed that it's in color! So long live the Rat Patrol!!!
I remember watching this show on the air in the 60's as a child. It was a highlight of the week. There are comments made that this show is not very authentic. Of course it is not authentic. It is just for entertainment. It has the same qualities as a Western where the hero shoots all the bad guys using the gun that shoots 100 rounds without reloading. I laughed so hard when I saw the episode when Troy throws a tiny vile of ether at a German truck about half a block and the truck blows up. Or the times that they will karate chop someone with one blow and that person is "out". That is cartoon style but who cares. It is still great entertainment.
The concept for this series came from a World War 2 saga titled THE
DESERT RATS. It was expanded upon & fictionalized on ABC
television.This color series was filmed in Spain for ABC in Color.
Visually, the DVD set of season 1 that I have looked at is great.
There are several things to note which make the series not as good as it looks. ABC had an extremely limited budget shooting these & if you watch the first season a lot, you will find that many of the action shots are re-used in several episodes. No matter what plot is being followed, the same action sequence used in an earlier episode pops in.
The half hour format this series follows does not allow enough time for character development. COMBAT , the Vic Morrow series which was also on ABC, always had an hour to develop it's plots. There are some multiple parters to try & make up for this problem during the first season, but not enough. The main cast is quite good. Christopher George is a good actor & brings Sgt. Troy as close to being real as you can imagine. His three comrades in support are fine also. Hans Guidecast (now Eric Braden or Victor on THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS) does well as the German Captain in pursuit of our heroes. often though, the scripts are limp & sometimes the re-use of the action sequences does detract from the quality of the series overall.
If you pick up the DVD set, watch for Ed Asner (Lou Grant) & Gavin McCloud (Captian Steubing of the LOVE BOAT Murray on Mary Tyler Moore series) in guest roles. The three parter features Claudine Longet several years before her lover Spider Savage died in mystery circumstances. This series is watchable & the DVD pictures are so good you can see the characters sun tans. Overall though, not as good as you remember when you were a child as the plots look a little limp to a grown up.
Sometimes, the jeeps suddenly get new equipment when our heroes are nowhere near their own lines. Amazing how they can do that & always get what they need & never run out of ammo. The action theme and fine camera work make this watchable.
When I was a child, I picked up & read a series of 7 paper back books based upon the series characters. The books developed the plots & characters in much more depth than the show. This makes my view of the series a little more negative than it should be.
This show is escapist entertainment because it is supposed to be
escapist entertainment. And that just happens to be why I like this
show so much. The plots were short and simple. They HAD to be since the
show was only a half hour long (not a full hour like COMBAT or 12 O
CLOCK HIGH). So in a nutshell, the Rat Patrol came, they raided and
then they were off. In 30 minutes, there was not much more they could
do in the time allotted. True, some of the episodes are kind of silly
but other episodes are really good.
Unlike most war related features of the time (tv shows, movies, etc), the Germans were not depicted as villains, but as the opposing force. The Germans were lead by Captain Deitrich, who actually respected the Rat Patrol and on more than one occasion, teamed up with the Rat Patrol on a truce. One truce, for example, was declared to rescue an Arab girl who had fallen into a well.
The main selling point of this show was that it was in color! Another selling point was to promote one of the stars (Lawrence Casey) as a sort of teen-zeen idol. It was a tactic that would work until 1968, when the public would quickly lose interest in anything war related and THE RAT PATROL would drop suddenly in the ratings war and get the cancellation ax later that year.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ah yes, what a load of tripe
but man do I love it!! It was shows like
this that got me interested as a child in military history leading me
to where I am today with my knowledge and research abilities for WWII
history and equipment and my stint in the services.
I watched this as a 8-9 year old and a later in the 70s and now on DVD. It is action-packed, wrong, but so very exciting. There was no character development, but who cares? The tried in the first few episodes to make Hitch the sex symbol and he was one of two characters to have a catch phrase. But the show focused on ACTION! It was pointed out quite correctly by another poster that many battle scenes were used and reused throughout series one and two - especially the hodgepodge of trucks led by a M41 Walker Bulldog with one truck speeding off and cuts of Moffitt holding on to the .50 and throwing a grenade followed by another cut of the jeep leaning heavily into the turn. Even more confusion when the 'Patrol' speed off or chase the fleeing truck to be pursued by a pair of heavily modified (to look like ? StuG? Marder? Don't know, it doesn't work!) M7 Priests MGC that weren't there in the first place? As well as some modified (to look more like sdkfz. 251s?) M3 Halftracks that weren't there to begin with. But it still made for action viewing! And lets face, part of the fun of watching these things now is to pick holes in em.
What got me was that in the first series up until episode 18: The One That Got Away Raid, both sides seemed to be using the same kind of submachine guns! I could be wrong, but they appear to all be most probably a Star Model Z-45, a post war Spanish version of the MP40 with wooden body and stock or with a folding stock, and a slotted cooling sleeved barrel. However they could be earlier Steyrs or Bergmanns or perhaps even Frence or Belgian but I'd go for the Z-45. Episode 18 was when they must have changed armourers (or the armourers were booked for other movie obligations elsewhere in Europe at the time it happens?) and the Germans got MP40s (with the Schmeisser misnomer) and the Allies got M1A1s (Thompsons).
Along with these came different German vehicles. Gone were the modified M7s, M3s, and assorted European trucks and ambulances (Mercedes, Adlers, Opels, etc.) to be replaced by unmodified M3s, M3a1s, almost exclusively U.S. Dodges, GMCs, and the like. Though I must add, the ubiquitous German Kubelwagen (great uncle of the VW beetle which the Germans coined) does appear in both series. As well as adding the rather cool Mercedes Benz G4 Staff Car (which was apparently a vogue thing for the time appearing in a few other shows, such as Hogan's Heroes for one) being an unusual short production 6x6 field/staff car.
If the show had any 'authenticity' at all, it was the trucks in those first 17 episodes! They were from the correct era. Even the jeeps were not particularly convincing for the roll. The U.S. didn't have desert raiders of this type in Tunisia attached to the LRDG (Long Range Desert Group) or otherwise and if anyone can get me a source to say they did, I would be grateful, in my 50 years I can't find any reference. The Rat Patrol was pretty much based upon the British SAS (Special Air Service) of the time who worked with, but were never attached to the LRDG at all (who would train the SAS in desert navigation and act as guides, etc., but would otherwise leave the SAS to do their own thing once the LRDG got them to 'point X' on a map).
The SAS loved the kinds of raids the Rat Patrol portrayed, specialising in raiding airfields however. The LRDG were a reconnaissance unit for the most part, mainly observing enemy movements, mapping, surveying, and so forth. Fighting when they had to. The SAS could do the odd strafing run, but would prefer to park away from a target and sneak in, sometimes quite boldly by not 'sneaking' at all, because the enemy was not expected to be anywhere near some of the places they raided. They could literally walk or drive into an installation and go about their tasks for which they designed their own special explosives! But the reality versus the Rat Patrol, the real SAS never took on anything more heavily armoured than a truck or a Kubelwagen. But then, reality doesn't always make for riveting action sequences like in the Rat Patrol. And for that, I will always love the show.
If you're like me and really enjoy watching rugged, masculine,
man-to-man combat that features plenty of high-powered explosions,
rapid gunfire showdowns, and "in-your-face" confrontations, then,
believe me, The Rat Patrol is definitely your #1 ticket to some truly
awesome TV entertainment.
Set in the vast North African desert, during WW2, The Rat Patrol is an elite Allied commando team of experts whose mission is to attack, harass, and wreak havoc on Field Marshal Rommel's vaunted Afrika Korps.
Join this fearless, four-man army of rough'n'tough dudes, headed by Sgt. Sam Troy (played by Christopher George), as they fearlessly wage war against Nazis, traitors, and wild-eyed fanatics.
Filmed in living color, The Rat Patrol, from 1966, is a fast-paced, action-packed collection of 32 explosive episodes that are pure dynamite from start to finish. This was no low-budget production here!
With its episodes all being only 30 minutes in length, The Rat Patrol's no-nonsense, clearly-defined stories were always direct and to the point.
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