Combat! reviews by Jo
Episodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets
High Named Today
Rating: 2 bayonets
First aired: May 7, 1962
Syndication order: 31
Season: One, Episode 31
Written by David Z. Goodman
Directed by Paul Stanley
Stockwell (Al of Quantum Leap) puts in a terminally ethe- real performance as Rob Lawson,
a young man convinced he has one foot in the afterlife. I found it difficult to feel
anything for this soldier who is wholely untouched and unmoved by the actions around him.
The meandering, heavy-handed script doesn't help. Too much time is spent needlessly
establishing Lawson's reputation before we see him. So there's no surprise that he charges
the sniper, we've been repeatedly told to expect it. The third time he rushed headlong
into danger was hopelessly redundant.
The best moments in this episode occur during the night scene in the barn. In the quiet
darkness we are allowed to get close to the characters of Doc, Kirby, Nelson, Caje, and
Littlejohn. I wish the director had also allowed us to get close to Lawson. But he simply
presented the motivation for Lawson's behavior, not the emotions and conflict behind them.
With Lawson unconcerned wheth- er he lives or dies, I was equally uninterested in the
resolution of the story -- except in a clinical fashion.
And how did the story end? Did Lawson have a revelation? Does he now want to live? Will
he be a good team member from now on? I guess so. The script leaves these questions
unresolved. But since Lawson is absent in future episodes, poor Lawson's Mom was proba-
Notes, Oddities, and Bloopers
- remarkably, no one in the squad gets wounded or killed in this episode
- we learn that Doc #1's mother is dead (the only personal bit of data we ever learn about
Steve Roger's Doc)
Private Lawson, a reputed "one man army," joins the squad. Hanley's platoon
is ordered to take the woods where the 3rd platoon was destroyed. A sniper attacks as Caje
and Saunders search the underbrush for land mines. Spotting the sniper, Lawson charges and
kills him. Hanley is furious Lawson acted without orders by running into the mine field.
Lawson in unrepentant.
The squad finds corpses of 3rd platoon surrounding an apparently abandoned barn.
Saunders and Hanley try to draw fire to discover where the enemy is hiding, but Lawson
rushes in. He enters the barn alone and destroys two machine gun nests. Afterward,
Saunders reads him the riot act about the "fundamentals of squad tactics."
Lawson in unimpressed.
Kirby conspires with the other squad members to get Lawson transferred before the
"superman" gets them all killed. When Hanley refuses, the squad surrounds Lawson
and threatens him. But Lawson is frightened neither by the enemy nor by his fellow
soldiers. He is certain that nobody is going to get killed because of him; just as he is
certain that he is not going home. His mother told him so. Lawson's father and grandfather
both died in previous wars. Devastated by her losses, his mother is sure she will lose her
son -- and has convinced him of his destiny.
Next day, Saunders takes Kirby, Littlejohn, and (much to Hanley's surprise) Lawson to
destroy two recon vehicles. Arriving at the road, the patrol discovers half-tracks, not
recon trucks. Saunders devises a plan to get the vehicles, but its success requires Lawson
to work as part of a team. The second half-track is destroyed as planned; but Lawson's
grenade is a dud and the first half-track pins him on the riverbank. Saunders pleads with
Lawson not to charge it alone; he doesn't have to die. If Lawson works with them, they can
save Lawson's life. He does, and they do.
- It's not enough to be a brave man. This whole squad is filled with brave men. The whole
of France is lousy with brave men on both sides. The only thing we have to count on when
we're fighting is each other. We don't have anything else. And if we can't count on each
other, we're in trouble. Bad trouble.
Words of Advice (103K)
as Lt. Hanley
as Sgt. Saunders
Dean Stockwell as Rob Lawson
Jack Hogan as Kirby
Pierre Jalbert as Caje
Dick Peabody as Littlejohn
Tom Lowell as Billy Nelson
Steven Rogers as Doc
Lew Brown.... Pratt
John Apone.... Soldier #1
Steve Gaynor.... Wounded Soldier
Burt Berger.... Corporal