"Caje, take the point"
December 2, 2013 1:29 PM   Subscribe

TV's longest-running World War II drama, Combat! aired on ABC between 1962 and 1967. "It was really a collection of complex 50-minute movies. Salted with battle sequences, they follow [US Army King Company's travails during the invasion of France, starting with the landing at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 -- D-Day. It's] a gritty, ground-eye view of infantrymen trying to salvage their humanity and survive."

Background
Combat! starred Rick Jason as platoon leader Second Lieutenant Gil Hanley and Vic Morrow as Sergeant "Chip" Saunders. The show ran for 5 seasons.
* Wikipedia (Quote in the main post comes from this page.)
"Wesley Britton wrote, "The producers and directors of the series (including Robert Altman, whose work on the show included 10 defining episodes) went the extra mile for establishing credibility and realism. Then and now, viewers see motion picture quality photography as in the long shots very unlike most network television of the period. They had military advisors on hand to look over scripts and maps. The cast couldn't shave during the five day shoots to help the 'beard continuity.' Except for occasional dialogue, for the most part when the 'Krauts' or 'Gerrys' spoke, they did so in German. Actor Robert Winston Mercy, who wrote one script and played a number of German officers, told me the uniforms were so precisely recreated with correct pipings and insignias that he would cause a stir among Jewish cafeteria workers when he strode in wearing his costume during lunch breaks.""

* TV Tropes
* A fan site by author Jo Davidsmeyer includes lists of bloopers, casualties per episode and an episode guide.
* Background from the US Army website on D-Day.

Episodes
There were 152 episodes. The first four seasons were filmed in black and white, the fifth in color. Please note that the individual episodes listed below may not be the ones included in the series' playlist above (first link in this post.) Also, that playlist only includes up through Season Four.

Episodes are here listed in the order they aired by Production Number and Name of Episode.

Season One (1962 - 1963)
1. Forgotten Front
2. Rear Echelon Commandos
11. A Day in June
4. Any Second Now
15. Just for the Record
17. The Squad
5. Lost Sheep, Lost Shepherd
7. Missing in Action
9. The Chateau (alt link)
10. The Prisoner
11. Escape to Nowhere
12. The Celebrity
13. Far From the Brave
14. The Quiet Warrior
15. Cat and Mouse
16. Reunion
17. I Swear by Apollo
18. The Walking Wounded
19. The Medal
20. The Volunteer (alt link)
21. Survival
22. No Time for Pity
23. Next In Command (alt link)
24. Night Patrol
25. Off Limits
26. No Hallelujahs for Glory
27. Battle of the Roses
28. Hill 256
29. The Sniper
30. One More for the Road
31. High Named Today
32. No Trumpets, No Drums

Season 2 (1963 – 1964)
33. Bridge at Châlons
34. Bridgehead
35. Masquerade
36. The Long Way Home, Part 1
37. The Long Way Home, Part 2
38. The Wounded Don't Cry
39. Doughboy
40. Glow Against the Sky
41. The Little Jewel
42. A Distant Drum
43. Anatomy of a Patrol
44. Ambush
45. Barrage
46. Thunder from the Hill
47. The Party
48. Gideon's Army
49. The Pillbox
50. The General and the Sergeant
51. Eyes of the Hunter
52. The Hostages
53. Mail Call
54. Counter-Punch
55. A Silent Cry
56. The Hunter
57. What Are the Bugles Blowin' For?, Part 1
58. What Are the Bugles Blowin' For?, Part 2
59. Weep No More
60. The Short Day of Private Putnam
61. Rescue
62. Command
63. Infant of Prague
64. The Glory Among Men

Season 3 (1964 – 1965)
65. Mountain Man
66. Vendetta
67. Point of View
68. The Duel
69. Silver Service
70. The Hard Way Back
71. Operation Fly Trap
72. The Little Carousel
73. Fly Away Home
74. The Impostor
75. A Gift of Hope
76. A Rare Vintage
77. The Long Walk
78. The Town That Went Away
79. Birthday Cake
80. The Enemy
81. The Cassock
82. Losers Cry Deal
83. More Than a Soldier
84. Brother, Brother
85. The Steeple
86. The Convict
87. Dateline
88. A Walk With an Eagle
89. The Long Wait
90. The Tree of Moray
91. Cry in the Ruins
92. The Hell Machine
93. Billy the Kid
94. Heritage
95. Odyssey
96. Beneath the Ashes

Season 4 (1965 – 1966)
97. Main Event
98. The First Day
99. S.I.W.
100. The Linesman
101. The Farmer
From this point forward and until the rest of season four, episodes have been uploaded in three parts.
The following links are to a playlist for each, rather than a direct link to a single video.

102. Evasion
103. Hear No Evil
104. Crossfire
105. 9 Place Vendee
106. The Old Men
107. Soldier of Fortune
108. The Casket
109. Luck with Rainbows
110. Breakout
111. Finest Hour
112. The Raider
113. The Mockingbird
114. The Good Samaritan
115. Retribution
116. Counterplay
117. Nothing to Lose
118. Ask Me No Questions
119. The Ringer
120. The Flying Machine
121. Hills Are For Heroes, Part One
122. Hills Are For Heroes, Part Two
123. Gitty
124. One at a Time
125. A Sudden Terror
126. Run, Sheep, Run
127. The Leader

Season 5 (1966 – 1967)
This was the only season produced in color. Each of these episodes has been uploaded in four parts.
The following links are to a playlist for each, rather than a direct link to a single video.

128. The Gun
129. The Losers
130. Ollie Joe
131. The Brothers
132. The Chapel at Able-Five
133. A Child's Game
134. The Letter
135. Headcount
136. Decision
137. The Outsider
138. Conflict
139. Gulliver
140. The Bankroll
141. Cry for Help
142. The Furlough
143. Entombed
144. Gadjo
145. Anniversary
146. Encounter
147. The Gauntlet
148. The Masquers
149. A Little Jazz
150. Nightmare on the Red Ball Run
151. Jonah
152. The Partisan
posted by zarq (33 comments total) 67 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sweet.
I watched Combat! all the time as a kid. Even as a little tyke, I was hooked on the cool opening graphics.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:39 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Great! Loved this show as a kid.
posted by marxchivist at 1:45 PM on December 2, 2013


Combat! and Rat Patrol were the back-to-back must-sees when I was a kid.
posted by 3.2.3 at 1:46 PM on December 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Huh, I was just reading about how Vic Morrow was killed filming the Twilight Zone movie last night...
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:48 PM on December 2, 2013


Actor Robert Winston Mercy, who wrote one script and played a number of German officers, told me the uniforms were so precisely recreated with correct pipings and insignias that he would cause a stir among Jewish cafeteria workers when he strode in wearing his costume during lunch breaks.

"They lose me right after the bunker scene."
posted by Etrigan at 1:49 PM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


3.2.3: "Rat Patrol"

I keep meaning to make a post about that show.

Will probably get to it eventually, but in the meantime here are the episode links I'd be using: you can watch episode one, then this playlist has nearly every other episode. (I think it's missing one towards the end of season two.)

If anyone else wants to use those to make a post of their own, please do and have fun. :)
posted by zarq at 1:53 PM on December 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Why wasn't this in reruns when I was a kid? I would have eaten it up. Made do with "Rat Patrol".
posted by thelonius at 2:03 PM on December 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Combat! and Rat Patrol were the back-to-back must-sees when I was a kid.

Oh, yeah...Rat Patrol! Loved that one, too.
There was also Twelve O'Clock High. B-17s!!!
posted by Thorzdad at 2:18 PM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was hooked on this show when I was in college. (It was on reruns, every afternoon.) A group of us at my dorm used to watch it.

I can't look at it now, because it remind me that just a few years later, Vic Morrow died on the set of the "Twilight Zone" movie.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:33 PM on December 2, 2013


If anyone's curious, here's a list of the episodes directed by Robert Altman (all from the first season):
Forgotten Front
Rear Echelon Commandos
Any Second Now
Escape to Nowhere
Cat and Mouse
I Swear By Apollo
The Prisoner
The Volunteer
Off Limits
Survival
posted by Awkward Philip at 2:37 PM on December 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


Zarq, I always dismissed Combat! as a cheesy 60s serial-- you have made me reconsider my opinion, and I will probably end up watching them all now. Great post!
posted by seasparrow at 2:47 PM on December 2, 2013


What are the best episodes to start with? Or best overall?
posted by Bwithh at 3:35 PM on December 2, 2013


Pretty great. I never got into this (too young) but may point my parents in this direction, I'm guessing my stepfather watched religiously. Thanks a lot!
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:39 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember reading somewhere that in Vietnam, some of the troops hadn't been trained to fight in an urban setting. When they found themselves under attack in a city, they used tactics they'd seen on Combat! and actually had some success, since the TV show had been filmed with close input from WW2 vets.
posted by natteringnabob at 3:45 PM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bwithh, the Robert Altman ones listed by Awkward Philip are a good place to start. Also, Cry in the Ruins was directed by Vic Morrow and is considered one of the series better offerings. The plot: An American squad and a German squad enter a French town at the same time. A French woman (played by Lisa Pera, grandniece of Leo Tolstoy) begs them to save her baby, who is trapped in a bombed out wine cellar. The squads form a temporary truce and try to save the baby.

seasparrow, enjoy. :) It's definitely 60's cheesy! But still, it was super-popular for a reason.
posted by zarq at 4:12 PM on December 2, 2013


BTW, Bwithh, if you're only going to watch one of the Altman episodes, make it Survival. Why? It probably got Altman fired from the series.

Apparently ABC network execs had told him not to shoot the episode, calling its script "relentless" and "grim." So of course he shot it anyway and it somehow made it to air. This is a bit of a spoiler, but it features the unexpected death of a character who had been prominently part of at least a couple of other episodes that season. The ep won Morrow an Emmy nom.

A full review with major spoilers is here. But I suggest skipping it and just watching the darn thing. :)
posted by zarq at 4:20 PM on December 2, 2013


Combat! and Rat Patrol were the back-to-back must-sees when I was a kid.

Oh hell yeah!

Not only was I fascinated by stuff like this when I was a kid, but my dad was a WW II vet; a sergeant who's weapon of choice was a Thompson.

But wait, it's gets even better/more surreal. Where was he? North Africa, Sicily, Italy (all the garden spots really).

So it was the oddest experience watching Combat! and especially Rat Patrol with him in the room. He, as a general rule, dislikes most TV dramas and movies; "Real life's not like that," is his common refrain.

Also, watching Rat Patrol lead to one of the most surreal moments of my life.

There was a scene where one of the RP guys was sneaking up on an Afrika Korp guard at a supply/fuel/oil depot (they were always dealing with supply/fuel/oil depots it seemed). He got close up behind the guard, got a forearm under his chin and the other hand against the back of his head, and chocked him until he dropped off into unconsciousness.

My mom (a gal from a small New England town who, I'm not making this up, met my dad at a USO-type dance before he shipped out and fell in love with him on the spot) (and yes, they just celebrated their 66th anniversary a week ago) asked incredulously, "Can you do that to a person?"

And without thinking my dad responded, "Oh yeah. All you gotta do is get a grip on him like that [mimes the correct hand positions] and squeeze ... " and he trailed off.

My dad rarely, if ever, talked about his wartime experiences until much, much later, and the look of horror on my mom's face was just shocking.

That was probably 50 years ago, and I can remember it like it was yesterday ...

How strange an experience it must have been for my dad (and five of my uncles) to be closer in time to a war than we are to Bill Clinton's inauguration and see their wartime experiences turned into television entertainment.

Real life's not like that.

Thanks zarq, great post.
posted by Relay at 4:41 PM on December 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


Heh! The only thing I remember about this show was the opening credits.

I didn't know that they did it in color for season five! And I wonder about the rise and fall and rise of Rick Jason in the credits.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 4:48 PM on December 2, 2013


COMBAT, by Curtis White -- my only knowledge of the show -- begins:
1. In the episode of Combat titled "Command," my father was a German pontoon bridge built over a narrow French river. The bridge/my father threatened to provide a means of access for Krauts in order to roll their Wehrmacht into an area tentatively held by Americans. Therefore, as a strategic priority of the American forces, he had to be "taken out."

2. ...
It's a strange, moving, and aggravating short story. It's still hard for me to believe the show actually exists outside of it.
posted by chortly at 5:07 PM on December 2, 2013


Great post! "The Pillbox" and "Hills are for Heroes" stand out as some of the most affecting drama I've seen. One of the things I like the most was how close some of the episodes felt to live theater.

I was very excited when the DVDs came out, it meant I could retire the videotapes.

Shortly after I first found the show, a fan group organized a cruise with some of the surviving cast members. The fan site is still up: http://www.jodavidsmeyer.com/combat/main.html


Also, Leonard Nimoy was in one episode, and how cool is that :-)
posted by Gorgik at 5:52 PM on December 2, 2013


Geez, I remember this from when we lived in Robinson, IL. I was in about the 5th or 6th grade at the time. It was must-watch TV for me as a 12 year old.
posted by pjern at 6:00 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nice.

Also, from the department of assorted ephemera; Combat! the card game, and Combat!: The Counterattack, the delightful children's book.
posted by Toekneesan at 6:08 PM on December 2, 2013


The northern France of Combat looked a lot like the Korea of MASH, which looked uncannily like the Georgia of Dukes of Hazzard, which resembled pretty much every planet Kirk and Spock visited in Star Trek. To my young, untrained eyes, at least.
posted by stargell at 8:10 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is on in reruns on one of the local cable channels. I think they call it ME TV although I am not sure what the "ME" stands for. (Mildly Entertaining?) But, this is the channel that brings quality like F Troop and Hogan's Heroes and Get Smart to name a few. It can be found streaming online too.

Love me some Combat episodes. I am going to sound like the oldster that I am, but they don't make tv like that any more. Too bad.

Great post.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:18 PM on December 2, 2013


Here is the link to ME TV website and its program list
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:19 PM on December 2, 2013


JohnnyGunn: "I think they call it ME TV although I am not sure what the "ME" stands for. (Mildly Entertaining?) "

I believe it is "Memorable Entertainment." I find myself watching a lot of old shows on there. It's over the air here in the Chicago area, though.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 8:46 PM on December 2, 2013


An urban golf course in my neighborhood went bust in the mid 60s and became a playground for us kids as construction crews moved in and created a Junior High School, a strip mall, and a mid-teen level office building. We scrambled around the foundation holes with our air rifles playing Combat. We'd jam the air rifles into some mud--creating a plug--and shoot each other. We also would toss mud grenades. Some serious kid arguments broke out as we choose roles: Caje and Little John were popular but no one wanted to be Kirby.

That place was also a gold mine for "bottle hunts." Apparently in those days construction workers had no regard for the 2 cent deposit on soft drink bottles. The quart sized beer bottles were worth 4 cents. That shit funded my baseball card habit.
posted by CincyBlues at 2:52 AM on December 3, 2013


While I am not sure I will be able to partake of the many offerings here, I just had to comment on how amazing this post in it's entirety really is.
posted by jeffen at 4:29 AM on December 3, 2013


potsmokinghippieoverlord: "And I wonder about the rise and fall and rise of Rick Jason in the credits."

IMDB:
Vic Morrow and Rick Jason were essentially co-stars, and for this reason there were two sets of opening credits, some listing Morrow as the lead star before Jason and some listing Jason ahead of Morrow, although not necessarily based on which one had a larger role in a given episode.

posted by zarq at 6:12 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Watching Combat every week was one of the few things my dad and I did together when I was a kid, so my memory of the show is twinged with a bit more nostalgia than other shows of the era.

And if they had filmed "Mad Men" back then, Rick Jason would have been a shoo-in for Don Draper.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 7:19 AM on December 3, 2013


I've seen quite a few episodes on late late night Me-TV and I have to say, I've never seen Rick Jason utter more than a few lines. It's 90% Vic Morrow so it puzzles me that they were co-stars since entire weeks go by without an appearance by Jason. Not that I'm, uh, keeping track or anything.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:06 AM on December 3, 2013


zarq: "Winston Mercy, who wrote one script and played a number of German officers, told me the uniforms were so precisely recreated with correct pipings and insignias that he would cause a stir among Jewish cafeteria workers when he strode in wearing his costume during lunch breaks."

I'm pretty sure the same effect could be obtained by spray-painting a swastika on a t-shirt, so this statement just doesn't convey much of the impression it's trying to achieve.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:04 PM on December 3, 2013


zarq: "Winston Mercy, who wrote one script and played a number of German officers, told me the uniforms were so precisely recreated with correct pipings and insignias that he would cause a stir among Jewish cafeteria workers when he strode in wearing his costume during lunch breaks."

I'm pretty sure the same effect could be obtained by spray-painting a swastika on a t-shirt, so this statement just doesn't convey much of the impression it's trying to achieve.


Speaking as a person who's been in and around the military, I can assure you that a precisely correct uniform can evoke much more of a reaction among people familiar with it than something that was clearly tossed together by some wanker who liked the way the medals looked on the wrong side.
posted by Etrigan at 12:10 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


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