Combat! reviews by Jo
Episodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets
The Long Way Home
Part 1 (037)
Part 2 (038)
Written by Edward J. Lakso
Directed by Ted Post
Part 1: Aired 08-Oct-1963
Part 2: Aired 15-Oct-1963
Produced by Gene Levitt
SYNOPSIS: (part 1) Caught in an
ambush, Saunders and his men surrender. In a temporary compound, they are brutally
interrogated by S.S. Cpt. Steiner. Sharing their prison camp, is Sgt. Ackers and three
other American prisoners. Steiner's been working them over. Saunders devises a plot to
sneak Billy out of camp. Steiner vows a terrible punishment, borne by the timid
grocer-turned-soldier, Gates. In a second failed escape attempt, one of Saunders' men is
killed and Saunders is beaten.
SYNOPSIS: (part 2) A wounded Billy reveals the squad's predicament to Lt. Hanley,
who can offer no help. With Caje under a death sentence for attacking a German guard,
Saunders must act quickly to devise a new escape plan. As a diversion, the soldiers start
tunneling, but the real plan involves a faulty circuit, water, and a wire fence. In the
end, the grocery clerk slays the "Superman," saving Saunders and the squad.
REVIEW: A strong script by Edward J. Lakso shows the
squad tested to the limits as they face death and torture at the hands of S.S. Captain
Steiner, played by Richard Basehart. Always a superb actor, Basehart is excellent in
playing this icy villain so sure of his own superiority. In a battle of wits with
Saunders, he wins the first rounds.
"The Long Way Home" is a squad episode,
letting all the cast shine. As each is called to face Steiner, they show both fear and
bravery, often simultaneously. Carter, Peabody, and Jalbert make the most of these
moments. Hogan is excellent during his "panic attack" as he is dragged screaming
to the interrogation -- craftily managing to turn on the faucet in the struggle. Morrow
underplays the emotions, still conveying that Saunders is torn apart at each cry from his
Guest star Simon Oakland plays Akers, a man whose spirit has been broken by Steiner,
until Saunders shows him the light. And Woodrow Parfray plays the frightened grocery clerk
with a gentle touch, making him a convincing hero.
The show ends with a quiet moment between friends, as Saunders and Hanley avoid the
celebration, and instead drink to those who were lost.
NOTES, ODDITIES, AND BLOOPERS:
- Where were all the German guards when the squad escaped?
- The opening of part two re-uses the elevated shots from the closing of "Bridge of Chalons" with Caje, Littlejohn, and Kirby
walking towards Saunders. Of course, none of these actors can be in the scene, since
they're all still prisoners.
- Odd the Germans allowed prisoners to keep cigarettes and lighters; when they were
searched, everything of value would normally have been confiscated.
ABOUT FILMING THE EPISODE: Jack Hogan recalls, "Ted Post [the
director] would sit there as you 're doing the scene, reading the newspaper in his
director chair. One time someone came up and told him that there was a plane in the shot
and Ted shouted, 'Hold the plane!' as if we had any control over LAX."
Tom Lowell: "We filmed some of it, including the shower scene, up at Franklin
Canyon. I shot Manchurian Candidate there, too. For the second part, I had to come
back and sit around, watching everybody shoot the rest, because I was finished."
Vic Morrow as Sgt. Saunders
Rick Jason as Lt. Hanley
Guest star Richard Basehart as Capt. Steiner
Jack Hogan as Kirby
Pierre Jalbert as Caje
Tom Lowell as Nelson
Dick Peabody as Littlejohn
Conlan Carter as Doc
co-starring Simon Oakland as Sgt. Tom Akers
Woodrow Parfrey as Pvt. Gates
Sasha Hardin as Lt. Brummel
Glenn Cannon as Rankin
Arthur Batanides as Nader
Jim Sikking as Lyles
Michael McDonald as Wilson
Arnold Merritt as Pfc. Cole
Walter Linden as German Compound Guard - day
Norbert Meisel as German Compound Guard - night
Rudy Dolan as 2nd German Guard - day
Robert Fortier as Captain Jampel (listed in part 2 only)