|(I don't want him to glare at me like this for forgetting his birthday.)|
(Wait, maybe I do. He's awfully yummy when he glares.)
To celebrate both Vic's birthday AND the 1940s, I'm posting the list of my ten favorite eps of my very most favorite TV show ever, the WWII drama Combat! (1962-67). I know I rave about this show from time to time, about how much I love the characters, how I met my husband and my best friend because of it, and so on. But I've never done a post listing my favorite eps, so... time to remedy that.
PLEASE, let us be clear. This is NOT my list of the ten best episodes! I'll try to post that some other time. This is my list of my ten favorite episodes. I've linked the ep titles to where you can watch them on YouTube if you are so inclined. All five seasons are also available on DVD, for which I am forever grateful.
1. "The Walking Wounded." Sergeant Saunders (Vic Morrow) gets a non-life-threatening wound and hitches a ride in an ambulance driven by a man who runs from danger who is hauling a dying soldier, a once-brilliant surgeon who has given up on the dying soldier, and a devoted nurse who refuses to give up on the surgeon. Being Saunders, he has to help them solve all their problems while also keeping them safe. This is the first episode I ever saw, and I adore it. (Reviewed more extensively here and here.)
2. "The Long Way Home -- Parts One and Two." If you want to try out this show, I totally recommend starting with this two-part episode. It involves all the main characters, and it's got a great plot. Saunders and his squad get captured and imprisoned in a German prisoner-of-war camp run by the sadistic Captain Steiner (Richard Basehart). (Reviewed more here, sorta.)
3. "Far from the Brave." Sgt. Saunders grieves over the death of his friend Grady Long, and behaves in an uncharacteristically antagonistic way toward Long's replacement (Joe Mantell), as well as toward everyone else in the squad. (Reviewed more here, sorta.)
4. "One More for the Road." I often show this to people for their first episode too. The squad finds a baby alone in a barn and pleads with Saunders to let them take it along with them. He finally gives in, against his better judgement, and guess what? Babies are not good things to take with you when you're sneaking around behind enemy lines. Always listen to Saunders. Always.
5. "Glow Against the Sky." Billy Nelson (Tom Lowell) gets gravely wounded, and the squad has to keep him alive and quiet while they hide in a town crawling with Krauts.
6. "A Gift of Hope." Saunders (can you tell who my favorite character is, by chance?) runs into a fellow sergeant named Avery (Rip Torn), whom he had believed to be dead, and who is now suspected of being a deserter.
7. "Retribution." Kirby (Jack Hogan) tracks down the Kraut who murdered Kirby's brother-in-law in cold blood.
8. "The Bridge at Chalons." The squad takes a cranky demolitions expert (Lee Marvin) to a bridge he's supposed to blow up, and of course everything goes awry and they have lots of exciting adventures.
9. "A Distant Drum." Lt. Hanley (Rick Jason, who is actually the other star of the show, but um... I love Saunders, so there are more Saunders eps on this list) gets wounded and separated from everyone else (this happens a lot to him), and finds sanctuary in the home of a French woman (Denise Darcel) and her adult daughter.
10. "No Trumpets, No Drums." Caje (Pierre Jalbert) accidentally kills a French civilian, and spends the whole episode trying to figure out how to live with that fact. He tries to assuage his guilt by caring for the man's little daughter, but of course, that's only a temporary solution.
I love many other Combat! episodes, but those are the ten that I am drawn to over and over. Not coincidentally, all but one of them are episodes I got to see as a teen, when a local TV channel broadcast this show for about a year. The only exception is "A Gift of Hope," which I didn't get to see until the show came to DVD.
Anyway, happy birthday again, Vic Morrow! Thank you for playing my favorite fictional character of all time.
|Vic Morrow (1929-1982) as Sgt. Saunders on Combat!|