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Season 5
COMBAT! episodes:

[The Gun]
[The Losers]
[Ollie Joe]
[The Brothers]
[The Chapel at Able Five]
[A Child's Game]
[The Letter]
[Headcount]
[Decision]
[The Outsider]
[Conflict]
[Gulliver]
[The Bankroll]
[Cry for Help]
[The Furlough]
[Entombed]
[Gadjo]
[Anniversary]
[Encounter]
[The Gantlet]
[The Masquers]
[A Little Jazz]
[Nightmare on the Red Ball Run]
[Jonah]
[The Partisan]

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Combat! reviews by Jo Davidsmeyer • Episodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets 


Peter Haskell, Conlan Carter, and Tom Simcox

Jonah

Rating: 2.5 bayonets

First aired 03-07-67
Episode 24 of Season 5

Directed by Georg J. Fenady
Written by Richard Wendly and William Fay
Produced by Richard Caffey


Review

The last episode filmed, "Jonah" is the story of a new replacement convinced that he "sponges" good luck. Tom Simcox plays the Jonah as a man burdened with the curse of seeing friends die around him while he remains unscathed. Hanley is in charge of this outing plagued by bad-luck from the beginning. Two expendables die at the Jonah's side, falling to unusually unlucky whims of war. Doc and Hanley adamantly resist falling prey to the fears of having a jinx among them, but Caje and eventually even pragmatist Kirby begin to wonder if their luck has finally run out.

William Fay devised this story that examines the fears and superstitions among frontline soldiers, and how they adversely affect morale and combat readiness. This interesting plot explores some unique territory that the show had never before touched upon. To a small degree, it's the flip side of first season's "High Named Today." In that episode we had a soldier convinced that he would die; in "Jonah" we have a soldier convinced that he will live, but only at the expense of those around him. In the first season episode, this was a mere plot point, and the writer never deeply explored the "superstition" or its effect on the squad. The screenplay for "Jonah," written by Richard Wendly and William Fay, looks inside both the Jonah and the squad. The Jonah is tormented by his fate; the soldier in "High" was unmoved and unemotional, not caring how he affected those around him. I would have preferred to see a bit more of the squad's reaction to this man. I missed having Littlejohn in this episode. Of all the regulars, to me he seems the most superstitious.

This interesting plot idea elevates the episode a little above the norm. But the "ordinary" battles and uneven pacing keep this episode rather banal. The most interesting sequence was Tom Simcox crossing the minefield -- good tension, very tight direction, and a bit of the unexpected for a conclusion to the scene. Peter Haskell puts in a good performance as the friend of Simcox that slowly comes to fear his buddy may be the jinx that he claims. (We saw Haskell earlier this season as the less-than-sympathetic GI in "A Child's Game". He also appeared as the German prisoner in "Hear No Evil".)

In the end, Simcox gets shot (non-lethally) and believes that his "curse" is finally over -- or never existed in the first place, it's not made clear. However, we never see if the squad makes it back to their base without further injury; so the question of whether his "curse" is over is still open as the final credits roll. As Combat's last filmed episode, "Jonah" leaves the fate not just of the recruit-of-the-week in question, but also that of the entire squad. Their five-year trek across France ended not in triumph or tragedy ... just a question mark.


Guest Stars Peter Haskell and Tom Simcox


Notes, Oddities, and Bloopers

  • Rank has no privileges in this episode. Hanley is leading the troops through the rain and the mud while Saunders remains safely back in a nice dry house giving instructions on the radio.
  • The show opens with one of "Combat!"s better staged hand-to-hand fights. Caje and a German battle in the mud and rain. It has absolutely nothing to do with the story, and could easily have been cut from the episode, but it *is* a very pretty fight.
  • Speaking of Caje, what a soldier! Wounded in his left arm, but that doesn't hinder this southpaw from firing an M1 with deadly accuracy. Hanley must have great confidence in Caje: when Hanley scouts ahead, he takes with him the guy who's wounded in his shooting arm. Doesn't seem like too bright a decision.
  • For the Busch fans, Paul Busch appears briefly as the German telephone operator. The honor of the final slaying of this unstoppable German went not to a squad regular, but to guest star Tom Simcox.

Cast Credits

Rick Jason
as Lt. Hanley

Vic Morrow
as Sgt. Saunders

Guest Star Tom Simcox as Dolan

Jack Hogan as Kirby
Conlan Carter as Doc
Pierre Jalbert as Caje

Peter Haskell as Richards
Peter Duryea as Simmons
and
James Dobson as Greely

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File last updated June 28, 2012

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