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Don Rickles - insult comic, hockey puck - Chief Petty Officer?
In "C.P.O. Sharkey", Rickles has the Navy blues as the C.P.O. of the title trying to whip a bunch of raw recruits into nautical shape. To say he fails isn't as true that it was fun to watch him try.
Every week, Sharkey had to deal with obtuse recruits (including Landesberg!), dim-witted seamen (Isacksen), stern captains (Allen and Slattery, respectively), and a semi-understanding chief (Page) who tried without success to keep Sharkey out of trouble.
In the brief time this show was on the air, Sharkey ran the gamut of working with babies, inflatable dolls, submarines and Mexican jails, all the time rolling off his lines with that old Rickles finesse we all know and love.
It's been ages since I saw this show but I remember it like yesterday. It was crazy, goofy and constantly hilarious! Hey, Nick at Nite or TV Land: are you listening? BRING BACK THIS SHOW!!
Ten stars. At ease, Don.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In 1976 Hollywood, known for having the predictive power of the Froggie Fortuneteller in the DisneyLand "Small World" ride ("SEES ALL - KNOWS NOTHING") had no idea that 50 years in the future Rickles would still be performing, and that his unique talent would still be razor-sharp. All they knew in 1976 was that he was a hot talent and surely, as they had already done with other standup comics, they could translate that into a payday...? Well, you can't bottle stardust and you can't tie Don Rickles to a script. The show was, at best, awkward. If you examine Don's amazing career (see the movie Mr. Warmth) the one single thing you will find conspicuously missing from his resume is the ability to hit his mark and deliver his lines just as they were written. More often than not, Don's high-water mark in these episodes consisted of yelling insults (pre-written ones!) and getting so red in the face that viewers with color sets thought the picture tube had gone bad. In fact (and no disrespect to the other reviewer) for years after on the talk shows, whenever one of Don's "targets" wanted to shut him down, they would merely say 2 magic words, and the usually unstoppable comic would hit a speedbump: "CPO Sharkey." There is however a happy ending to this story. Don himself went on to become one of the longest-performing and best liked comics of all time, and Hollywood tried the formula one more time with another ad-lib comic named Robin Williams. The second time was a charm.
I have only seen Don Rickles in two parts where he really got to let go and be Don Rickles. Those were CPO Sharkey and when he was the supply Sergent in Kelly's Heroes. Both parts must have been written for him since I never saw him in any other parts where he got to let it rip. I saw him in more than one part where he was supposed to be "nice" and it was not the same. It was often in those parts that he was defanged. My father was retired Navy as a CPO and he really like any show about the navy and this and McHale's Navy were two of his favorites. Too bad CPO Sharkey only had one or two seasons because with the right writing, directing, etc it could have gone on longer. I think most of it was in studio with a studio audience and if it had been shot on location somewhere it would have lasted longer. Not every comedy has to be done in a studio with an audience. Good job Mr. Rickles and rest in peace.
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