Monday, October 04, 2010

Day 04 - Your favorite show ever

If you've read this blog at all, you know what I'll be writing about today:  Combat!

Mmmm.  Combat!  What a show.  From the first time I watched an ep, at the tender age of 14, I have loved and adored Combat!  I even co-maintain a fansite for it, Fruit Salad, where Deborah Koren and I share our fanfiction, screencaps, my humorous ep reviews, and various other (often "hidden") goodies.  I wouldn't pour that kind of time and effort into just any show, so what makes Combat! so special?

The Squad

Partly, it came into my life at the perfect time.  I was 14, just beginning to grow up, and starting to recognize good writing and acting from bad.  It was 1994, the fiftieth anniversary of D-Day, and all kinds of classic war movies were being released on video.  My dad loves war movies, so we watched quite a few of them that year.  And then, Combat! came into my life, one of many old shows on a brand new channel starting up, TV-55.  My dad remembered it from his childhood, we recorded some episodes, and from then on, it's been an important part of my life.  A year or so later, I started writing seriously, and one of the first stories I wrote was, technically, Combat! fanfiction, though I didn't yet know such a thing as fanfic existed.


Partly, it's the setting.  I'm a history buff -- I love learning about WWII and the 1940s, and that makes this show right up my alley.  I also love heroes.  Combat! is about heroes, the real, dirt and grime and daily grind kind of heroes.

Littlejohn (Dick Peabody) and Billy Nelson (Tom Lowell)

Then there's the writing.  This show has some of the best doggone episodes I've ever seen in any show.  It grapples with serious, deep, sensitive subjects.  Betrayal, revenge, justice, mercy, fear, courage, love, hate, kindness, cruelty, good, evil -- it's all here.  Combat! introduces us to cowards, murderers, musicians, artists, grocery clerks, shoe salesmen, writers, every kind of character you can imagine.  And it does all this in just 152 episodes.

Lt. Hanley (Rick Jason)

There's also the acting.  The main cast members are all superb:  Vic Morrow, Rick Jason, Pierre Jalbert, Jack Hogan, Dick Peabody, Conlan Carter, and Tom Lowell.  They're supported with a truly impressive list of talented guest stars.  Actors and actresses like James Coburn, Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Eddie Albert, Mickey Rooney, Nina Foch, Leonard Nimoy, James Caan, Beau Bridges, Roddy McDowell, Sal Mineo, Frankie Avalon, Robert Duvall, James MacArthur, Joan Hackett -- I could keep going, but you get my point.  Some of these pros even requested to be on Combat! because they knew it was such a swell show.

Kirby (Jack Hogan), Doc (Conlan Carter), and Caje (Pierre Jalbert)

But most important for me are the characters.  The main ones are all great, but from my first episode, my heart has belonged to Sgt. Saunders.  He's played by Vic Morrow with a depth of feeling and understanding I have never seen equaled in a mere TV show.  He transcends the stereotype of Hero.  He's brave, but also fearful.  He's noble, but also human.  He's intelligent, but also fallible. He's compassionate, but also uncompromising.  In other words, he's the kind of complex character I'm still trying to learn to write.  He's so multifaceted, he feels real to me, and I sometimes forget he's fictional.

Sgt. Saunders (Vic Morrow)

So.  I love the setting, the writing, the acting, the characters. For sixteen years, my pulse has quickened every time I hear the familiar duh duh-duh-duh duh-duh rhythm.  I don't expect to lose interest any time soon.

9 comments:

  1. Nicely written. But where's Caje's close-up? :D

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  2. Deb -- Thanks! Would you believe this took me nearly a week to write?

    Janet -- Sorry. You can do double the Caje pics when you do this meme, k?

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  3. I too am a Combat! lover from way back, I was 9 in 1962. I was re-united with this wonderful show about 4 years ago, thanks to cable TV reruns, and now I am an absolute Combat! nut. I have read and re-read every bit of fan fiction I can find, many thanks to all the amazing writers out there. I enjoy all the stories many thanks.

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  4. Hi, Daphne! It's always great to "meet" another Combat! fan. I'm glad you've rediscovered the show and are enjoying all the fanfic out there. In case you hadn't figured out from my plug for Fruit Salad, my call sign in that fandom is White Queen. I'm working on a couple new stories, but due to having a baby less than 3 weeks ago, it'll probably be a while before I finish the stories and have them up on Fruit Salad.

    If you're interested in interacting with other fans and discussing the show, there are some excellent fan groups on Yahoo -- I think the biggest one is at http://tv.groups.yahoo.com/group/CombatFan/ but there are several others too.

    Thanks for stopping by and letting me know you're enjoying C! fanfic :-)

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  5. Dante Quinn
    City and Country: Mount Vernon,NY U.S.A.
    E-mail address: danteq45@hotmail.com
    Occupation: Counselor
    Sex: male
    When did you first watch COMBAT?:
    I have vivid memories of watching Combat with my Father while He was eating Polyseeds in the family room. I was about 7-years old. Even then I appreciated the acting. My dad was in the Navy during the war,and he watched the show religiously.
    Why do you enjoy COMBAT?:

    First off it wasn,t until later on when the show went into syndication and I was much older that I was so impressed with the Cinematography. The "gritty" look of the show, Robert Altman is a genius at angle shots ,close ups, and the writing was outstanding the relationships of the characters really studied the personal "Wars" going on with the men, and how they coped with being in Combat.

    That and to top it off the fine backround Music and compositions provided by the talent of Leonard Rosenman made for a very realistic view of war.
    Share any COMBAT memories you might have.:

    The one episode that stands out in my mind is "The Volunteer" In the "Volunteer" the story about a 10 year old french boy that wanted to join the American Army was a tearjerker. The photography was great,and the music with the harmonica backround made me feel like I was in France. The French boy was played by the actor Serge Prieur. Being a childhood actor,he is only listed with that one acting credit for the episode. I understand today He owns a bed and breakfast in France.
    Comments about the web site or other comments:
    At this time I am collecting the series and hope to have many more comments on being a devout "Combat" fan!
    Thursday, April 2nd 2009 - 02:50:58 AM

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    Replies
    1. Hello! Nice to meet a fellow fan :-) Thanks for sharing some of your thoughts on the show -- it's so intriguing how different aspects attract different people. And I didn't know that Serge Prieur now owns a bed-and-breakfast in France, how interesting! He definitely turned in a wonderful performance in "The Volunteer."

      Isn't it wonderful that the entire series made it to DVD? So many other classic shows are either unavailable or only have a season or two out, but we can enjoy all of Combat! whenever we want. Lucky us!

      Thanks for stopping by :-)

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  6. Just found your blog. I became obsessed/addicted to Combat!. I guess it's not so bad, there a lot of other things that could have been worse. Anyway, I read and re-read your fanfic. I wanted more. So I joined the Combat fanfic forum and read those stories. It was never enough.

    My major in college was business but my minor was history. I love the 1940's. My Dad was in WWII so I would pump him for info. Then one day I got this idea and I decided to write a story about it. The only thing I ever wrote were legal documents for mortgage loans.

    I think I have now written 12 or more stories.

    So thank you for writing those stories, you inspired me.

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    Replies
    1. Hi! I say, if you've got to be addicted to something, Combat! is one of the better options :-)

      There is never enough fanfic. That's why we keep writing more! I'm trying to write a short new story right now myself, though a cold and impending company for Easter have derailed me. But anyway, do you have your stories online somewhere? Please leave me a link! What's your call sign in the C! fanfic group? I'm White Queen, in case you haven't guessed, though I rarely post anything there anymore.

      I got my BA in Liberal Arts with concentrations (like minors) in English and History. The 1940s are hands-down my favorite historical period to learn about.

      Thank you for letting me know you've enjoyed my stories! I'm so honored that my stories have inspired you with your own writing. What an amazing fandom we have!

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