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Buddy Van Horn
Inspired by the film "The Dirty Dozen", this series chronicles the adventures of a group of convicts recruited into the U.S. Army by the offer of a post-war parole. Commanded by West Point graduate, Lt. Garrison, the "Gorillas" function as commandos behind Nazi lines. Written by
Marg Baskin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The year of 1967,ushered in a new wave of violence not only on the big screen,but made its way through the media of television as well. In the summer of 1967,two major motion pictures were playing in theaters throughout the country....one was Robert Aldrich's "The Dirty Dozen",and the other was the sixth film in the James Bond 007 series "You Only Live Twice" starring Sean Connery. In the upset that followed, Aldrich's "The Dirty Dozen" overtook the summer's biggest Bond film "You Only Live Twice" as not only the top box office draw at the movies,but became one of the highest grossing films of that year. Along with Arthur Penn's "Bonnie and Clyde"(which didn't come out until later that year),and Norman Jewison's "In The Heat Of The Night"(which was released later on that year) ushered into a new wave of violent cinema. Things will never be the same way again.
In the fall of 1967,the television series "Garrison's Gorillas" premiered on ABC. After the Emmy-winning World War II drama "Combat!" ended its successful five-year run,"Garrison's Gorillas" took over in the same time slot as "Combat!" was on Tuesday nights. Produced by the same company that brought you "Combat!"...Selmur Productions in association with the ABC Television Network. "Garrison's Gorillas" was inspired by the 1967 film "The Dirty Dozen" which featured a similar scenario of training Allied prisoners for various military missions during World War II. The leader was Lt. Craig Garrison(Ron Harper),who basically acted just like Lee Marvin's 'Major Reisman'. Garrison was in charge of a band of convicted criminals(all of them were a motley group of commandoes recruited from stateside prisons)that were recruited for a variety of special skills against the Germans in World War II. They had been promised a parole at the end of the war of they worked out. That is,if they lived. The alternative was an immediate return to prison. If they tried to run,they could be executed for desertion. They were given a choice.....Fight for Uncle Sam or face a firing squad.
The four were Actor(Cesare'Danova) the handsome con-man;Casino(Rudy Solari)the safe cracker and mechanic;Goniff(Christopher Cary)the Cockney cat burglar;and Chief(Brendan Boone),the native American who handled a switchblade like he was born to it. Each week,the Gorillas would go on various missions as daring as they were with high suspense and breathtaking excitement. "Garrison's Gorillas" was like the "A-Team" of its day,with a dollop of "Mission:Impossible" thrown in for good measure not to mention a hint of another WWII show "The Rat Patrol"(which by the way was on the same network). The slippery group ranged all over Europe in various exploits that took them behind enemy lines. Some of the episodes were very good included the pilot episode "The Big Con". Other excellent episodes included "The Magnificent Forger","Banker's Hours","48 Hours to Doomsday",the two-part episode "War and Crime",and "A Plot To Kill",along with the final episode of the series "Time Bomb". The guest stars ranged from Jack Klugman, Telly Savalas,to Roddy McDowell, Richard Kiley, Malachi Throne, to Jeff Corey and Will Geer and to an lesser extent Gena Rowlands.
Airing on ABC-TV,in full color from September 6, 1967 until March 12, 1968. Only 26 episodes were produced. "Garrison's Gorillas" had a strong viewer presence,but the ratings for this show became its downfall and it was gone after one season. The show that replaced it on the ABC-TV schedule for the 1968-1969 was "The Mod Squad"(that was produced by Aaron Spelling and Danny Thomas),that lasted more than five seasons on the network.
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