Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Day 06 - Favorite episode of your favorite TV show

My favorite episode of Combat! is also the first one I ever saw:  "The Walking Wounded."  Oh, how I love this ep!  Of course, it's Saunders-centric, with a weighty moral dilemma that could topple lesser men.  Should he risk the lives of four people -- himself included -- to save one critically wounded stranger?  It's that old "good of the many vs. good of the few" problem that can make for such good episodes.  Plus, it's written by Burt Kennedy, one of my fave writers for this series.

Saunders is the literal walking wounded, with a leg wound that doesn't keep him from walking, but has him out of action for a bit and on his way to an aid station.  But the aid station gets bombed right when he arrives.  He finds an unconscious, wounded man in the back of a deserted ambulance.  The ambulance is a bit banged up, but still runs, so Saunders takes off in it to find the nearest medical help.  Along the way, he picks up a trio of less-literally wounded soldiers:  the ambulance's driver, who ran away when the bombing started, a doctor who has seen too many bleeding bodies and thinks anything he does now is pointless in the long run, and a nurse who steadfastly sticks with the doctor because she believes in him.  And loves him, so much so that she never gives Saunders so much as a flirty glance, but there's no accounting for taste.

Guest stars Gary Merrill, Geraldine Brooks, and Steven Joyce
Everyone but Saunders thinks the wounded man is past all hope, but Saunders is determined to get him to medical help.  Only problem is, they have to go right past the German lines to get him there, it's a long way to travel and the wounded man might not live that long anyway, and they could rejoin their own lines much closer and be safe, though there would be no medical aid.  But Saunders insists that if he were the wounded man, he wouldn't want to be abandoned (even though I'm pretty sure if he were the wounded guy, he'd be insisting the others leave him and save themselves -- oooh!  Fanfic story idea!).

Vic Morrow as a wounded and weary Sergeant Saunders
Why do I love this episode?  I put it down to the central theme of Playing God.  One of my favorite lines from the entire series is in this ep:  the doctor says he thinks he knows whether the wounded guy can be saved or not, and Saunders says, "I always thought that was up to Somebody Else."  That line struck such a chord with me the first time I heard it that I instantly loved Saunders and the series and the episode, all rolled into one.  (Five years later, I would fall in love with a vampire named Angel, the show Angel, and one specific episode all because of one bit of dialog.  I have a weakness for good, revealing writing, cantcha tell?)  I think what particularly resonated with me was the idea that this strong-willed, brave, seemingly self-sufficient sergeant trusted God to make the really important decisions about life and death.  I was fourteen when I first saw this episode, and struggling with reconciling my own strong will with trusting God.  Saunders, especially in this ep, was precisely the role model I was hungering for.

Can I be the puppy's stunt double?  Pleeeeeeeease?
Also, Saunders just looks darned good in this episode.  And it has a puppy!  Gotta love the puppy.


  1. Agree, no question about that - about faith, I mean.
    Have not seen the episode, but will have to!

    1. I think this one is also available on YouTube :-)

  2. Just watched it, it is impressive!
    Your summary was a big help.

    1. Awwwww, I'm so touched that you went and watched it!

      I do promise I will read your Ironside story soon, but my best friend is visiting this week, so it will probably be at least the weekend before I get to it.


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