belongs to the ranks of television's great military slacker comedies, including Sgt. Bilko
and McHale's Navy
. Ken Berry was promoted from bit player to leading man with his role as clueless and clumsy ("I fall down a lot") Wilton Parmenter, who is put in charge of the frontier post Fort Courage after a display of inadvertent Civil War heroism. "He's the pigeon we always dreamed of," enthuses Sgt. O'Rourke (Forrest Tucker), who runs "O'Rourke Enterprises" with his sidekick Corporal Agarn (Larry Storch). Most episodes involve O'Rourke and Agarn's get-rich schemes that ultimately backfire. The show's great (albeit politically incorrect) comic conceit is the Hekawis, the decidedly un-bloodthirsty Indian tribe who makes tourist souvenirs, not war. "We invent peace pipe," proclaims Chief Wild Eagle (Frank DeKova), whose broken English and anachronistic vernacular (similar to Joey Bishop in Texas Across the River
) provide most of each episode's biggest--and, in these more enlightened times, guiltiest--laughs.
F's troupe also includes Melody Patterson as Wrangler Jane, who has a hankerin' for "Will" ("I told you, Jane, not in front of the men"), James Hampton as bungling bugler Dobbs, Joe Brooks as nearsighted look-out Vanderbilt, cowboy star Bob Steele as gung-ho Alamo survivor Duffy, and venerable character actor (and Rocky and Bullwinkle's "Fractured Fairy Tales" narrator) Edward Everett Horton as Hekawi medicine man Roaring Chicken. Among the more memorable guest appearances include Zsa Zsa Gabor as a gypsy who attempts to fleece Agarn in "Play, Gypsy, Play," and Don Rickles (!) as Chief Wild Eagle's excitable, warlike son in "The Return of Bald Eagle." The episode, "Reunion for O'Rouke," contains the classic bit about how the Hekawis got their name. F-Troop debuted in 1965 and lasted but two seasons. It broke no television ground and was never nominated for an Emmy. A single-disc compilation of six episodes is also available, but Baby Boomers who remember F-Troop fondly will want to enlist for a full season. It's old school, flat-out funny. -Donald Liebenson
After Accidentally Leading A Cavalry Charge Into Victory, Private Wilton Parmenter Becomes A Hero And Is Given Command Of Fort Courage. Here, His Group Of Cavalrymen Bumble Through Fighting Their Enemies And Working With The Local Hekawi Indians To Sell Items To Tourists.