This episode served as the original pilot for McHale's Navy. But don't expect Tim Conway nor Joe Flynn here. In fact Lt. Commander Quinton McHale (Ernest Borgnine) is the commanding officer of the navy PT boat island base, Taratupa. In the late spring of 1942 the Japanese bombed the base, when it was over it was devastated, only out 150 men, 18 survived. They kept in hiding of Japanese patrols, till Lieutenant Durham (Ron Foster) parachutes onto the island. His job is to get Taratupa back into action, but it's an up-hill job.
The men have gone native and one of them has even started a native laundry service, and McHale has a still and makes moonshine for the men and the natives too. McHale is buddy buddy with the native chief and even bathes with him.McHale is afraid of losing any more men, he's just concerned about their survival and getting rescued. That is till they receive orders about protecting a Marine battalion pinned on a beach and an enemy cruiser is planning to attack the beachhead in the morning. They are ordered to use all boats they have to protect the beachhead. But since the Japanese has sunk all their boats, what McHale does capture a Japanese PT boat, who has come to patrol the island. McHale doesn't plan to use the boat to evacuate the battalion, but to attack and destroy the Japanese cruiser. His plan is that since they're on a Japanese boat, flying a Japanese flag, that they can get close enough to torpedo the cruiser.
This is a dramatic war story interlaced with humor. Only the relationship with the local native chief, and their still and laundry businesses are retained in the show that eventually made it on the air as "McHale's Navy". Beside Borgnine the only other actors that made it to the series were Gary Vinson as Christy and John Wright as Willy. Other than those three actors this is a completely different cast. It's very good and while the show it will eventually be is an old favorite of mine, I wonder why this pilot didn't get picked up. It would have made an interesting series.
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