Combat! reviews by Jo Davidsmeyer
Episodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets
Written by Edward J. Lakso
Directed by Alan Crosland, Jr.
First aired 02-Nov-1965
Episode 8 of Season 4
Saunders returns from patrol with one
of his squad, a decorated veteran of Omaha Beach, under arrest. Stevens disobeyed a direct
order, causing the squad to be trapped by a German machine gun and two men to be killed.
"Crossfire" shows the making and unmaking of a combat soldier. In this
Frankenstein-type story, Stevens is Saunders' creation who he cannot control. As Hanley
delves into the situation, Saunders relates how the two met on D-Day. Saunders took
Gordon, a frightened private, and molded him into a soldier who would keep moving and kill
Krauts. But the lesson was learned too well. By the time he is assigned to Saunders'
squad, Stevens has developed a hair trigger and is trouble. The third flashback merges
into the same scene that opened the show (and repeats ALL the footage the audience has
already seen). Eventually, the script meanders back to the present and resolves itself.
In a television series that made some rather intrusive use of incidental music, this
episode is the nadir. Normally, I am fond of the high-volume, often overpowering score. My
tolerance was severely tested in the teaser. By second act, I laugh at the music instead
of paying attention to the story. Low-tension scenes of men scurrying across fields have
high-tension music, heavy on woodwinds and tympany. Every dramatic sentence is punctuated
with a heavy downbeat and an occasion du-dum!
The D-Day flashback does not match "A Day in June." Saunders was not separated from Hanley and squad
long enough to have had this encounter with Stevens. All fighting on Omaha Beach ceases
when Saunders wipes out the single machine gun nest however, in "A Day in
June" he fights his way off the beach with his own squad while under continuing
German machine gun fire.
The scenes between Saunders and Gordon are biting and believable as Saunders has to
deal with this monster that he has created. But the odd twists and turns of flashbacks and
the exact duplication of the teaser is annoying.
NOTES, ODDITIES, AND BLOOPERS:
· Don Gordon accurately throws a grenade after being shot in
his pitching arm, then fires 11 rounds from an eight-round M1.
· Saunders' shirt is
alternately buttoned down to nearly his navel then to only the first button, sometimes
switching in mid-speech.
· Filmed at Thousands Oaks,
MGM, Zuma Beach, and long shot of Jeep at opening of show is from Korbel.
· Angelo De Meo, one of the
show's stunt coordinators, gets screen credit in this episode. His only other credit is in
· With the re-use of "A
Day in June" footage, plus the complete re-use of the teaser segment and other lifted
scenes, this episode has less than a half-hour of original footage.
Rick Jason as Lt. Hanley
Vic Morrow as Sgt. Saunders
Don Gordon as Pvt. Stevens
Jack Hogan as Kirby
Pierre Jalbert as Caje
Dick Peabody as Littlejohn
Conlan Carter as Doc
Burt Douglas as Pvt. Clark
Ron Foster as Pvt. Marshall
Rand Brooks as G.I. Lieutenant
Walter Gregg as Pvt. Coates
Robert Hoy as G.I. on Radio
Paul Busch as German Captain
Bob Turnbull as G.I. Corporal
Robert Champion as German Sergeant
Angelo De Meo as Doan