The Scourge of Appomattox

Coming on the heels of the Civil War centennial, F Troop joined Hogan’s Heroes as historical comedies just as prime time television shifted from black and white to color (F Troop and Hogan’s Heroes first aired three days apart in September 1965).  Ever wonder about the long story behind Captain Wilton Parmeter’s rise to fame?  Well, here it is:

The captain’s story almost resembles the story behind how Ulysses S. Grant became colonel of the 21st Illinois.  Almost.

I always wondered whether Larry Storch and Micky Dolenz of The Monkees fame were somehow related.  Or whether Wrangler Jane was a sassy takeoff on Elly May Clampett of The Beverly Hillbillies.

For the remainder of the series, each episode was introduced by a most memorable song:

Would such a show air nowadays?

5 thoughts on “The Scourge of Appomattox

  1. TF Smith June 10, 2011 / 1:59 pm

    There were couple of these “service comedies” at this point; McHale’s Navy comes to mind, along with Hogan’s Heroes – which seems a comic take on Stalag 17, as McHale’s Navy plays off Tales of the South Pacific and even a little bit of Mr. Roberts.

    Probably a pretty good social history thesis in examining the GI Generation in Hollywood postwar, say 1950-1980. Anything comparable in terms of popular entertainment centered on WW I in the US? The Lost Generation seems to have had a harder time taking things lightly in the 1920s and 1930s.

    Same for the Civil War generation – did the war as experienced by Billy Yank ever enter into the minstrely/vaudeville genre during the Gilded Age? “Charles MacAlpine’s” humor seems pretty broad, but with a bit of sadness (sort of a CW-era Bill Mauldin), but I don’t know if that carried into the post (1865) era; Mauldin’s effort to brng Willie and Joe “home” in the late 1940s certainly didn’t.

  2. James F. Epperson June 11, 2011 / 6:49 am

    A common theme among the three “service comedies” was the incompetent authority figure, be it Parmenter, Col. Klink, or Capt. Binghampton in McHale’s Navy.

  3. Dave Jordan June 11, 2011 / 5:02 pm

    And let’s not forget Gomer Pyle, USMC, which seemed to be set in contemporary times (mid-1960s) but failed to mention the Vietnam war at all. (Although according to wikipedia, Jim Nabors (Gomer) said that it was difficult for him to watch the opening sequence of the show, because many of the Marines he is seen marching with were killed in Vietnam.

    In this show the theme Jim mentions is reversed – the authority figures were fairly competent, but the protagonist is a well-intentioned bumbler.

    I don’t recall any F Troop or Hogan’s Heroes movies being made, but McHal;e’s NAvy Joins teh Air Force was made in the mid 60’s and a McHale’s Navy movie was released in the late 1990’s.

    I don’t know if F Troop, Hogan’s Heroes, or McHale’s Navy would air today since they were set in the past, but I’m pretty sure a contemporary Gomer Pyle wouldn’t fly.

  4. John Buchanan June 15, 2011 / 11:37 am

    As one of those anal sticklers about accuracy, one of the great aspects of the dramas and comedies of the 1950s-early 1970s was the accuracy of the actors in use of weapons and equipment. This grew in large part out of them mostly being veterans. Now everything was not accurate (anyone ever see SGT Saunders reload that Thompson submachine gun?) but the uniforms were usually correct and teh actors looked like they knew what they were doing.

    Ken Berry was a Korean War vet, Forrest Tucker enlisted under age before World War 2, was discharged and then enlisted at the outbreak of war and became a lieutenant. Larry Storch was a sailor on a sub tender. Ernest Borgnine was a longtime Navy Vet and Joe Flynn and Tim Conway both were Army vets, as were Werner Klemperer and Bob Crane.

    It just made the shows better.

  5. ray o'hara June 15, 2011 / 12:48 pm

    There was a Playhouse 90 special where Werner Klemperer played a serious Nazi, After years of Colonel Klink it was hard to take it seriously and I kept expecting him to exclaim “Hogan!”

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