Combat! reviews by Jo Davidsmeyer
Episodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets
The First Day
Rating: 3 bayonets
First aired 09-21-65
Episode 2 of Season 4
Written by Esther and Bob Mitchell
Directed by Georg J. Fenady
Produced by Gene Levitt
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Our beloved squad, worn-out and exhausted, receives four green replacements. In this
tight, fat-free script by Esther and Bob Mitchell, we follow these four teenagers as they
attempt to survive their first day on the front line. Among the newbies are: a high-school
football star, a wise-cracking street- smart kid, a sweet country boy, and the clean-faced
boy next door. Who will survive?
This episode provides a little more background info on Doc. Here he claims to have been
a grocery clerk before the war. He also shows familiarity with 4H, knowing what type of
projects and info would be in a project book.
Georg J. Fenady, a
regular associate producer of "Combat!", makes a great debut behind the camera
as director of this episode. He makes sure the pacing of camera and actors matches the
pace of this first-rate script. I do have a bit of a problem with the initial premise of
the episode, though. The squad acts as if it's so unusual to have soldiers of this age. In
reality, many sol- diers who fought on the frontlines in WWII were between the ages of 18
and 20. These replacements were typical -- guys in their late 30s and 40s, such as
Saunders, Kirby, and Caje, were rarer than the teens.
Later in the season this same combination of writers, Esther and Bob Mitchell, and
director Georg J. Fenady give us the flip side of this story, as three old men become the
squad's replacements in the episode "The Old Men". I
wonder if the Mitchells sold the two scripts as a package?
Oddities and Notes
- Just how many cotter pins does a soldier lug
around? Kirby seems to have a never-ending supply.
- Shouldn't Kirby have marked his path as he
crossed the mine field?
- The squad doesn't carry mess kits with them?
Then how come they always have their kits whenever there's a fire or a hot meal around?
- Kevin Coughlin (Loomis) also appeared as an
MP in "Off Limits." In that episode, shot three seasons earlier, no one thought
he was too young to be a soldier.
Schedule for filming "The First Day."
as Sgt. Saunders
as Lt. Hanley
(Note: does not appear in episode)
Jack Hogan as Kirby
Conlan Carter as Doc
Pierre Jalbert as Caje
Dee Pollack ... McBride
Buck Taylor ... Tobin
Kevin Coughlin ... Loomis
Robert Biheller ... Tate
John Nealson ... Anderson
Rick Weber .... German
- I didn't freeze.
- Well, you can call it anything you want to, Tate. All I know is, you didn't act like a
soldier. You don't get many chances up here. Don't waste 'em.
Words (66 k)
- What are you waiting for, a speech? He made a wrong move and he's dead. That's all the
speech there is. Let's go.
- Caje, we better win this war soon. We're runnin' out of men.