Combat! reviews by Jo Davidsmeyer
Episodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets
Dick Peabody injured himself shooting this scene
Photo copyright by Earl Parker
RATING: 0 bayonets
Teleplay by Paul Playdon and Bob Fredererick
Story by Shimon Wincelberg and Richard Shapiro
Directed by Vic Morrow
First aired 06-Dec-1966
Episode 12 of Season 5
Two miles from Lyon, Saunders sends
Littlejohn off for a day of R&R. But his vacation is prevented by a Messerschmitt that
strafes him. He is rescued/captured by a band of French urchins. They are scavengers who
strip the dead of money, food, and clothing. And now they've scavenged Littlejohn, holding
him prisoner in their houseboat hideout. When their attempt to ransom him to the Americans
fails, they try to trade him to the Germans.
"Gulliver" has the potential
for high tragedy, but misses the mark. The episode was written to feature Hanley, but Vic
Morrow, as the director of the episode, convinced the producer to change it, giving an
opportunity to Dick Peabody. The switch in central characters hurt the story. The plot was
not strong to begin with, but the change from an officer to an enlisted man put too many
obstacles in the script, making the urchins not very bright. The children's actions make
more sense if they had a real officer in their clutches.
Any actor, Peabody or Jason, would have been a waste in this role. The show is carried
by the children, and not very well. The children are not up to the calibre of past child
actors on the show, such as Andrea Darvi. Vicki Malkin, as Christina, does her best
playing a demented Wendy to these gun-toting lost boys.
The story desperately calls for a PPT at
the end, but the script and Morrow have Littlejohn simply lying flat on his back for the
conclusion. Littlejohn is the constant victim throughout the show, offering no insight, no
action, and no resolution.
NOTES, ODDITIES, AND BLOOPERS:
· The plane strafing was filmed at Thousand Oaks, with a
P-51 mustang acting as the Messerschmidt.
· Dick Peabody ripped his
cartilage filming the scene where he is strafed by the airplane.
· The French children have
international tastes in music. They sing "London Bridge is falling down" in
English and listen to Wagner. Well-educated children, three of them speak English and
French. Henri is tri-lingual.
· Why would the children try to
bargain for German money? They are trying to make it to the coast, which is in Allied
ABOUT FILMING THE EPISODE:
Dick Peabody says, "I didn't like
'Gulliver,' in which I was the lead. I think my agent [Meyer Mishkin] discouraged me from
liking it. I asked him to see a screening, to see if I should run an ad. So we screened it
for him and he said, 'Save your money.' Great agent I had. He said it was too inactive a
part. 'You really didn't do anything, you were just lying around being wounded.' [...] I
can't be objective about my own work. I've had a lot of good comment from 'Gulliver' from
other people, other than my agent. I don't know. How does one judge their own work?"
Vic Morrow as Sgt. Saunders
Rick Jason as Lt. Hanley [does not appear]
Dick Peabody as Littlejohn
Stefan Arngrim as Henri
Vicki Malkin as Christina
Jeremie Paul Andre as Marcel
Don-Antoine Fabrice as John
William Bramley as Desk Sgt.
Sasha Hardin as German Lt.
Paul Busch as Sgt. Kolcheck
Horst Ebersberg as German Sentry
Joe Stead as Johnson
Angelo De Meo as Jeep Driver
Oliver C. Stine, Jr. as Corporal
Beau Vanden Ecker as G.I.
Larry Grant as U.S. Soldier