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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This episode pits - albeit temporarily - Joe Gallagher against his own brother U.S. Army infantry officer Lt. Col. Preston Gallagher, ably played by Jack Lord. Gallagher is leading the 918th to North Africa after bombing a target in Europe on what was called a shuttle mission, meaning the aircraft shuttled from England to a target and then to another base. Kudos to Quinn Martin & Co. for using this bit of historical fact as a background. The facts sort of end there, but hey its free to watch (on broadcast TV anyway), right? From the opening act you know what you are in for - brother vs. brother. Lord plays Gallagher's brother as an short sighted, hard infantry officer who is at the end of his fighting rope after a week long battle with German units to seize an important airfield. Joe Gallagher needs fuel and bombs, waiting there for this very important shuttle raid, to complete the return part of his mission. Somewhere along the line, Preston Gallagher has decided the fuel is his outfit's needed to evacuate (to where isn't very clear) his wounded. He tells Joe Gallagher the 12 or so B-17s are going to be scrapped - blown up - on the runway to keep them out of enemy hands and everybody is going to fall back. The episode goes off the logic rails with this one. I guess the thought is Jack Lord is slightly mad from too much combat and isn't seeing straight. It seems to me if your orders are to hold an airfield for aircraft to operate out of, then BLOWING up some $3 million worth of aircraft (B-17s were about $250,000 a piece then) and essentially kissing off the second half of a very important mission when the goods and time are there to do it wouldn't be a punch in the promotion ticket. Plus, you have 12 bombers, fuel and bombs and you know where the Germans are ....hmmmmm (well, wait and watch the episode) From then on out the episode is just standard 'No you will not' ... 'Yes I will for duty, honor, country' conflict stuff that most episodic television is to this day. And that's sort of the bane of television production. Grinding out some 24-28 episodes a year (in the mid 60s) didn't leave a lot of time to polish scripts and make sure plots were iron clad. Along with that, Quinn Martin had a few television shows in production at this time - mid 1965 - and staffs tended to work across the board on multiple shows on script approval and rewrites. As usual, however, the performances of the actors, along with some pretty good reuse of movie war footage, sells this episode and gives it an 8 stars for me.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've always been a big fan of this series and always will be, one
reason being the different guest stars - Jack Lord (before Hawaii
Five-O) and the lovely Julie Adams in this episode.
But Hollywood misses a LOT of technical details, and a big one ruins the major premise of this episode - that the limited amount of gasoline available can either be used by Colonel Gallagher's bombers, or by his brother's (Jack Lord) ground troops for their trucks and tanks. WWII aircraft could NOT use the same gasoline as WWII trucks and tanks!!
WWII ground vehicles were designed with low-compression engines because gasoline you were likely to find in Europe & North Africa was low octane & poor quality, but army trucks & tanks could run just fine on it. If you absolutely had to, you could drive a few miles using aviation gasoline if you took it easy on the throttle, but the engine would overheat, blow spark plugs and burn valves before long. On the flip-side, WWII aircraft engines would be down on power so much and would "knock" so bad on the low octane gasoline for trucks & tanks that the planes wouldn't even make it to the end of a runway - it'd be like trying to race a NASCAR car on gasoline for your lawnmower!
The show's writers and producers either didn't know that (probably didn't) or figured the public didn't know, but especially in the 1960's when the show was produced, I'd say most people did know - I sure did & I was only 12 years old when this episode aired! Knowing that "little detail", what happens in this episode couldn't possibly have happened (airplanes using gasoline for trucks & tanks), but if you can overlook that, the show has the heroic action you expect from "12 O'Clock High".
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