Black Sheep Squadron (TV Series 1976–1978) Poster

(1976–1978)

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Somewhat mixed but generally quite entertaining
Hessian4999 December 2001
Set in the South Pacific during World War Two, the series dealt with a squadron of US pilots known as the Black Sheep (called such due to the fact most were misfits and disciplinary cases before joining the outfit). The best part of the series were the aerial combat sequences; using a mix of archived material from the war, newly filmed sequences, and superbly edited tapings of radio transmissions, the producers made it seem like you were up there in the sky with the squadron in the encounters with the Japanese. On the ground, the dramatic scenes were often done just as well; you got to realize that even though the squadron was made up of screwballs they behaved as a unit and worked as a team to make it through whatever came up.

Later episodes in the series tend to be rather lacking in entertainment value. The addition of "Pappy's Lambs" - a group of nurses assigned to the island - was probably meant to help ratings, but at the same time the focus started to swing towards them and away from the war against the Japanese, which had been the backbone of the more successful earlier episodes. The overall writing of the series seems to have deteriorated as the show got towards the end of its run as well.

While mixed in quality through its run, the show is definitely worth watching, if nothing else for the Corsairs that were restored to be used on the show - great aircraft!
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A viewer remembers
middlega24 February 1999
The tales of Boyington's Black Sheep may not have been the most historically accurate, best written, or even best acted WW II series on television.

What it WAS, however, was an entertaining hour in front of the tube, with a likable cast & easy to like/care about characters.

The Bellisaro hand in the casting in easy to see, with a number of familiar faces that returned to become regulars or recurring characters on Magnum P.I.

In short, a usually enjoyable show that never failed to deliver exactly what you expected from it.
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Pappy rules!
dindy-221 March 2001
I watch this every day on the History Channel. Great show, maybe not the most historically accurate, but you get a sense of what life was like for these young pilots in the Pacific. Gutterman and Pappy are my favorite characters. Most everyone with a speaking role in the series carved out a nitche for himself and made his character fairly memorable. This is a show the whole family can watch together and learn a little about WW2. One thing I like about the History Channel is that each commercial break has a blurb from a real member of the Black Sheep Squadron giving insights into areas where the show is not accurate.

Why did they cancel this show?? The show went WAY down hill with the addition of the T&A factor (aka Pappy's Lambs). What was a pathetic attempt to boost ratings further detracted from the historical accurateness of the show by depicting woman with no acting talent, often scantily dressed, with 70s hairstyles positioned on the front lines in WW2. Pappy Boyington was a technical advisor to the show and should have put a stop to this!!!

Attention Hollywood: Pappy Boyington and his brave men would make an excellent feature film. The TV series just scratches the surface of the adventures of the Black Sheep.
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Excellent Show!
johnb-105 May 1999
While the Movie and T.V. show did have some inaccuracies it did provide a thrilling show that I love to this day. When I was small I would sneak up to my room just so I could See "Pappy" and the "Black Sheep" Squadron every week and since as an adult have become intensely interested in history and the role that these true American heroes played in making this a free country. I wish that everyone could see this show.
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10/10
brings back memories i shared with my grand dad a marine.
southerncrosshr6 July 2007
I remember i was just a kid when i came home from some where and the first episode came on and i watched it with my grand dad i was hooked from then on. my grand dad remembered the black sheep from his days on Guadalcanal and told me about the real Boyington and the black sheep. we knew the TV show was pretty much hokam but we enjoyed the spirit of the show and how good it made us feel. i later was given a copy of the book pappy wrote by my grand mother and i would build corsairs from kits and hang them in my room. i never got to meet pappy before he died but if i ever get back to Arlington national cemetery i will go to his grave as i do grand dads and say a word of thanks. i was also lucky to grow up not far from the little town where Audie Murphy was born in Kingston Texas. and my other favorite military person was general George s Patton Ole blood and guts himself. it is too bad we do not have those type of men around any more but to them all a heartfelt thanks. they were in deed the greatest generation.
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10/10
My thoughts on Baa Baa Blacksheep...
njg7616 January 2007
It was an excellent program... and miles above the competition! Baa Baa Blacksheep (Blacksheep Squadron) will always hold a special place in my heart. I not only knew the cast (Great people!), but I was acquainted with the real "Pappy" Boyington as well. He had a great time working the set of Baa Baa Blacksheep and I know it meant a lot to him... Anyone not familiar with Greg "Pappy" Boyington should read the book "Blacksheep One"... It really lets the reader into the kind of person he really was. Highly recommended!

Here's to Greg...He was one hell of a combat pilot, and a hell of a man.

He is sorely missed.
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Thrilling WWII Action with Flying Leathernecks
Troll-192 February 2001
Baa Baa Black Sheep or Black Sheep Squadron is an exciting TV series about Pappy Boyington's VMF 214, a USMC fighter squadron of WWII vintage. The characters are likeable and Robert Conrad really fills the bill as Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, Medal of Honor winner and multiple ace in the Pacific. The aerial sequences are outstanding and the use of combat footage is skillful. I watch the show every opportunity I can get and enjoy the episodes that feature combat and not the ones where a black sheep is caught behind enemy lines
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8/10
Well done series about a WW-II hero and his pilots
rwalk0911 February 2007
Black Sheep Squadron is a series that is fascinating to watch, over and over. I first started watching it on the History Channel and have numerous tapes that are wearing out from use. These are quite interesting since they contain the comments of the original Black Sheep members, as well as some by Conrad.

The stories, for the most part, are quite interesting and the acting is top-notch. Conrad is a seasoned actor going back many years and does very well in all sorts of roles, including this one. Clyde Kusatsu in his role as a captured Zero pilot was believable and has been in many other movies since. The regulars...Dana Elcar, Robert Ginty, W. K. Stratton, Simon Oakland, James Whitmore, Jr. were well-placed in their roles.
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My All Time Favorite TV Show
hankieroseman25 August 2001
I loved the "Corsairs" as long as I can remember. I was so disappointed when the Black Sheep series ended I never watched network television again. Pro football was the only network programming I would watch. Then cable came and most recently The History Channel has aired the Black Sheep. I taped as many as I could. Then came my computer and I still haven't watched a network program for over 20 some odd years. I know NBC don't miss me. I don't miss NBC either. God Bless Pappy Boyington. May you rest in peace.
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6/10
WWII couldn't get any cooler than that
jaimehk20 September 2009
They were young, good looking, their lives move around flying those wonderful blue planes, they lived in tropical paradises, and between each flight they used to hang out with really hot girls, mock authority and play sports. What else an anxious pre-teen could ask from a TV Screen? (Actually I saw the reruns in the 80's once and again). Only occasionally they mourned the loss of a fella, and that their business was about killing and hurting other people was of minor importance. A pretty sweetened version of war, indeed. And about historical accuracy, it faired only slightly better than, say, "Operation Petticoat" (another 70's series about WW2) or MASH. In the plus side, it gives good messages about camaraderie, friendship, loyalty, and even tolerance (it wasn't openly anti-jap), and, at least speaking of myself, you fell compelled to learn more about actual history. As a present-day WWII buff, I wouldn't buy a DVD, but I'd gladly spend one hour of my lifetime watching a rerun of some episode. I would recommend it for parents with teens and preteens, but I'm sure they would find it slow and boring.
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9/10
The best war planes of the best squad
unixfreaxjp28 December 2014
The "Whistling Death" F4U Corsair planes are the actual stars of this movie, the best combat planes ever with killing ratio 11:1 in their short times during 1943-1945. And VMF-214 Black Sheep Squadron is just the legend Ace Squadron with high killing ratio (average 5+) during the pacific war with Pappy Boyington as great fighter and leader. I watched this series when I was a kid, and always in my memory ever since. I even collect the F4U Corsair model planes afterward. I am still trying to watch the FIRST episode the "Flying Misfits" a.k.a episode zero, so if anyone know how to get it kindly advice. This is a good series of the pacific war, yes it dramatized and fictionalized events, but it is very nice to see many REAL Corsairs in formation! Great respect to Pappy Boyington and VMF-214 for your great dedication, you folks did a great job!
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7/10
Watch it For the Flying, and the Nostalgia of 1970's Television
pcarey00214 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
If I had written this review when I was 14 (the year the show first aired) as opposed to now, with hindsight, research, and more than a little experience, I might be as exuberant as an earlier reviewer.

Do yourself a favor - read "Baa Baa Black Sheep" by LTC Boyington. Then... if you want the non-biased true story of LTC Boyington and some of the Black Sheep (warts and all), find a copy of "Black Sheep One" by Bruce Gamble. Look (online on You Tube) for the History Channel's "True Story of the Black Sheep".

I began reading at the age of four years old, and began reading High School level books at the age of eight. I was enamored of WWII aircraft and war stories, and read hundreds of books on the subject. My interest was helped along by a brother who was in the USAF and father who served in the US Army Air Corps. I was already very familiar with aviation and WWII when this series premiered to my absolute delight.

"Baa Baa Black Sheep" (later re-named "Black Sheep Squadron" for syndication reasons)is loosely based on LTC Gregory "Pappy" Boyington's memoir of the same name. That book, as well as most of what is portrayed in this, is, as Pappy once put it "Fiction based on reality".

Some aspects of the television series are very accurate. For instance, there is an area of the planet Earth referred to as "The South Pacific" and there was an event called World War II. Gregory Boyington was a real person, VMF-214 (Now VMA-214) was a real Marine Corps Fighter squadron, during part of the afore-mentioned WWII they flew the F4U "Corsair" series of aircraft, and the Corsairs were mostly painted blue. Other than that... certain "liberties" are taken with historical fact and the quest for accuracy.

This series is a prime example of "fantasy-based history" or "history- based fantasy" however you prefer. It was NEVER meant to be historically accurate. It is, in the words of the series creator Stephen Cannell "entertainment".

The stories are, for the most part, fairly simple and some are actually plausible. But anyone who watches this series and expects to gain an accurate knowledge of USMC air, land, and sea operations in WWII needs to do some basic research at their local library.

It is the finest example of mid-1970's "campy" television with the worst results. By "campy" I mean.. well, ...corny.

It is the typical "fighter-pilot-gets-drunk-and-laid-as-often-as-possible" story, with the usual obligatory bouts of fisticuffs at every opportunity. Add in the usual defiance of the incompetent higher echelon ("Colonel Lard") who is eventually won over by the protagonist's charm and results, and finally the "let's win the war for White America" mindset, and you have the series in a nutshell.

But, unfortunately, this was the age of disco, "Charlie's Angels" and long-haired teeny-boys with feathered hair. "Special Guest Stars" like Peter Frampton (bushy fro hairdo and all), George Takei, and others showed that people wanted and needed their "stars" or so the writers thought.

It was the addition of the previously mentioned feather-haired teenager "Lt. Jeb Pruitt" (as a teenage flying prodigy who was 15 and sneaked his way through USMC Fighter Pilot training, boot camp, aeronautical school,etc. looking like an effeminate member of the "Our Gang"comedies) and then (gulp!) ..."Pappy's Lambs"- USMC nurses in 1970's Farrah Fawcett-Majors hair, halter-tops and Daisy-duke-style shorts,and loose morals.

Why do we try to sneak contemporary aspects of current life and culture into period and historical pieces like "BBBS"? It was simply doomed from the start and the fact that it lasted as long as it did was a miracle.

Now - It is being resurrected again on "METV" and I won't miss an episode. What? After all my opinionated drivel regarding what made it so bad? Simple: It has the following very appealing elements:

1. It shows the greatest fighter plane ever built (F4U-1 Corsair) flying - both in series-filmed elements and stock footage. Other aircraft are shown often and a lot of gun camera footage.

2. It has Robert Conrad, who is the greatest television star/actor of all time.

3. It is loosely - very loosely based on the exploits of a great pilot and someone (I too) met as a teenager - LTC Gregory "Pappy" Boyington. His motto - taken from F. Scott Fitzgerald: "Just name a hero, and I'll prove he's a bum" has become my motto and a part of my life.

4. Red West - the example of what every Enlisted mechanic in the US Military should strive for.

5. It reminds me that television was once fun - very much full of crap when "Crap was King!".. but fun.
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1/10
Absurd, Ridiculous, and Totally Inaccurate In Every Way Possible
Diane Ruth5 July 2015
The production values, period details, and writing for this awful cartoon version of the Pacific War are just terrible. While the Corsairs are very good indeed, the plots, historical setting, and acting are abysmal. This show has more in common with Hogan's Heroes and McHale's Navy than a program actually about the Marine fighter squadron known as "Black Sheep." In fact, McHale's Navy might actually be more accurate and true to life than this swill. I was reminded how truly bad this junk is when I watched a rerun today on MeTV and stared slack-jawed as Japanese soldiers disguised as Marines took over the Black Sheep's airfield and captured the pilots. It seems the squadron is stationed on a remote island without any armed support or even ground crews. Even more amazing is that the mission of the Japanese is to kill General MacArthur when he comes to visit this isolated, unguarded outpost in an unescorted B-25. When our heroes manage to overcome the enemy and scare guest star George Takei really badly, all the Japanese immediately throw their hands up and surrender. "No Japanese characters were harmed during the filming of this episode." Pretty odd behavior for any soldier of the Emperor let alone commandos on a suicide mission. Oh, well, it doesn't matter. No one who knows anything about the Second World War, has any familiarity with Pacific air combat, or has read anything about Marine aviation during WWII would watch more than two minutes of this trash. It's totally ridiculous, stupid, and an insult to veterans of Pacific combat, especially the U.S. Marine fighter pilots who didn't have nearly the fun these Hollywood clowns seem to enjoy. For a more realistic depiction of another dark aspect of the war, watch Hogan's Heroes. The Nazis are delightful buffoons and being in one of their prison camps is a laugh riot.
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10/10
A great TV series about a famous marine aviator
rwendler939-120 July 2016
I loved this series. When I was in the Marines I was fortunate to be stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay with Marine Air Group 13 (MAG 13). The the three flying squadrons included, you guessed it, VMA 214, The Black Sheep Squadron. They were obviously not the original pilots but they carried on the tradition. At the present I am reading "Baa Baa Black Sheep" written by Black Sheep One himself, Gregory "Pappy" Boyington. He pulls no punches. In the book he details all his personal problems, his being shot down and captured by the Japanese, and his time spent in a Japanese camp. He also goes into details about his time with the American Volunteer Group (Flying Tigers). A great book written by a famous marine.
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9/10
perhaps one of the most entertaining series from the aces of the pacific
georgeszaslavsky26 September 2013
I watched Baa Baa Black sheep for the first time in 1983. I really liked the dislikable characters like Miklin and Colonel Lard who were good in their roles. The Japanese actor who played the ace Arachi was excellent. The atmosphere between the black sheep is often rivalry, humor, boxing fights against each other sometimes, teamwork with sense of duty and responsibility, also all the black sheeps share a big interest in women. Pappy is a hero like there have been a few during the second world, Conrad portrays him as a man liking his crew men and with sense of responsibility and huge courage.It is a great TV series for those interested in the aerial combat in the South Pacific.
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9/10
Simple two words; Loved it.
jacobse_en_van_es11 April 2016
This series has 'childhood memory' written all over it. I simply loved it.

Being interested in WW2 aviation at an early age I watched and read everything I could get my hand on. And one day I found this series on TV. I was blown away. What were these beautiful blue aircraft? I knew of Spitfires, Mustangs and Messerschmitts but what was this?? It was the beginning of a life long adoration for the Corsair which is still there today.

The series was far from being historical accurate, in fact it only has very few connections with the real Black Sheep Squadron (VMF- 214). But this does not matter. Sure, the story line is over the top and incredibly fictional and the same goes for the characters which are way too 'Hollywoodlike' (with Robert Conrad's role getting 1st price there). But all of this is not annoying and as a viewer you accept this as other parts in the show (like the dog fighting scenes) make up for this.

The actors chosen also fitted their parts very well. They all seemed to be cast just right and all have their specific place in the squadron and all share the same amount of attention (except for Pappy of course) . They "jumped the shark" as they say in Hollywood when the nurses arrived in the series in order to save the ratings. Too bad it was canceled. The show had much more potential.

When I found out many years later that the series could be bought on DVD, I ordered it immediately without even checking the price. Many a rainy day has been spent watching the series. Now it's my young son asking what these beautiful blue aircraft are.
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