Vic Morrow and Rick Jason in Combat!
Format War Drama Starring Rick Jason
Country of origin United States No. of seasons 5 No. of episodes 152 (List of episodes) Production Running time 46 to 52 minutes per episode Production company(s) Selmur Productions Broadcast Original channel ABC Original run October 2, 1962 – August 29, 1967
Combat! is an American television program that originally aired on ABC from 1962 until 1967. (The exclamation point in "Combat!" was a stylized bayonet.) The show covered the grim lives of a squad of American soldiers fighting the Germans in France during World War II and stars Rick Jason as platoon leader Second Lieutenant Gil Hanley and Vic Morrow as Sergeant "Chip" Saunders.
Created by Robert Pirosh, Combat! ran for five seasons. The first four were filmed in black and white, with a move to color for the final season. Although the series ran for five seasons, King Company never fought its way out of France, despite the fact that the real U.S. Army fought there for less than a year.
CBS Television Distribution (inherited from ABC Films, Worldvision Enterprises and Paramount Television) owns American television distribution rights to the series, while Disney-ABC International Television has international rights—original producer and copyright holder Selmur Productions was a division of ABC. The domestic rights for DVD are held by Image Entertainment, under license from co-copyright holder Buena Vista Television (now ABC Studios).
Combat! is currently (October 2011) aired on Me-TV at 3 AM Eastern/Pacific Time, Tuesday thru Saturday.
- Rick Jason as 2nd Lt. Gil Hanley
- Vic Morrow as Sgt. "Chip" Saunders
- Pierre Jalbert as PFC Paul "Caje" LeMay
- Jack Hogan as Pvt. William G. Kirby
- Dick Peabody as PFC "Littlejohn"
- Conlan Carter as "Doc" (seasons 2–5); nominated for Emmy Award, 1964
- Tom Lowell as Pvt. Billy Nelson (first and second season)
- Shecky Greene as Pvt. Braddock (first season)
- Steven Rogers as "Doc Walton" (first season)
- William Bryant as Pvt. McCall (fifth season; other characters in first season)
- Paul Busch, frequently played different parts, mostly Germans
Starring billing alternated between Morrow and Jason every episode so that each was top-billed in the opening credits exactly 76 times.
Guest stars appeared as additional squad members, French citizens or German soldiers. In the first season, the then little-known Ted Knight and Frank Gorshin made appearances. Other notable guest stars included Lee Marvin, James Coburn, Telly Savalas, Charles Bronson, Richard Basehart, Eddie Albert, James Caan, Jeffrey Hunter, Leonard Nimoy, Warren Spahn, Frankie Avalon, Mike Farrell, Beau Bridges, John Cassavetes, Robert Duvall, and Dean Stockwell.
The program was produced by Robert Blees, Robert Altman (briefly), Richard Caffey, Gene Levitt, and Richard Maibaum. The executive producer was Selig J. Seligman. Ten episodes were directed by Altman, who went on to make M*A*S*H and other acclaimed films.
Most of the cast members were veterans of the armed services, with several having served during World War II. Jack Hogan, Dick Peabody and Shecky Greene all served in the U.S. Navy, while Rick Jason served in the Army Air Corps. Vic Morrow served in the U.S. Navy in 1947. Conlan Carter served in the U.S. Air Force during the post-Korean War era. Pierre Jalbert was a drill sergeant in the University Air Training Corps at Laval University in Canada during World War II.
The Super Famicom game, Sgt. Saunders' Combat!, was based on the television show and only released in Japan. It allowed players to re-enact crucial World War II battles in Western Europe and North Africa. The names of fictional officers in addition to real-world officers (i.e., Karl Bülowius, Joachim Peiper, and Anthony McAuliffe) are used in order to maintain a sense of historical accuracy.
Image Entertainment has released the entire series on DVD (Region 1). They released each season in two-volume sets in 2004 and 2005. On December 6, 2005, Image Entertainment released a 40-disc boxed set featuring all 152 episodes. Each season set as well as the complete series set features various extras including commentaries, oddities, bloopers, and photo galleries.
However, all episodes are the time-compressed versions that were distributed by WorldVision for syndication (each coming in at 46–47 minutes, instead of the original runtime, which was 50–51 minutes). The FAQ for the shows' mailing list also confirms exactly that.
Davidsmeyer, J. (1996, 2008) Combat! A Viewer's Companion to the Classic WWII TV Series. Strange New Worlds: Sarasota FL.
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