Combat! reviews by Jo Davidsmeyer
Episodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets
(131) The Letter
RATING: 2 bayonets
Written by Shirl Hendryx
Directed by Georg Fenady
First aired 25-Oct-1966
Episode 7 of Season 5
A replacement arrives who reminds Saunders of his kid brother, who he just
found out has dropped out of high school and enlisted. Saunders coddles the
recruit, keeping him out of harm's way. In the second battle, the kid moves up
against orders, saving Kirby's life, but earning Saunders' ire. At the supply depot,
Saunders' again leaves the kid safely behind. But when Saunders and Kirby are
wounded, their lives are in the hands of the boy soldier.
In "The Letter," Saunders says that to stay alive "I'll do your thinking for
you." But he is not thinking straight in this story by writer Shirl Hendryx. As
with many of her Combat! stories, this deals with familial relations. Her scripts are usually strong,
though in a Hendryx script, the men spend more time sharing their feelings than
in a typical Combat! episode.
Contrast this episode with "Mail Call," where the squad is also concerned
about Saunders. Nobody will take the direct approach with him there. But in "The
Letter," Doc is willing to butt into his personal problems not just once, but
twice. Doc knows details about Saunders' family life. But in "Mail Call," no one knew a thing about his background. Three seasons later, out of the
blue, Doc is Sarge's confidant.
NOTES, ODDITIES, AND BLOOPERS:
· The kid brother sends a color photograph of himself. Extremely unusual for
1944, it should be a black-and-white photo.
· Caje is wearing a wedding ring and pinky ring that appear and disappear on the
march to their mission objective.
· During mail call, there's a letter for Nelson.
· Why are the wounded soldiers out in the hot sun and under wool blankets, on a
day that the script describes as "hotter than August in Texas." A perfectly
good tent is in the scene, why aren't the wounded men in there?
· Earl Parker, as an American soldier, does a great back flip death in the
teaser. As a German soldier, he is killed by Saunders at the checkpoint. He is
killed again outside the bunker.
· The bunker from "Chapel at Able-Five" is the supply depot in this episode.
· Nobody checks Kirby's wound in the episode, but Doc treats Saunders and tells
him to treat the kid's.
· This episode has the longest teaser (opening scene before the credits) of any Combat! episode.
Rick Jason as Lt. Hanley
Sgt. Saunders as Vic Morrow
Randy Boone as Jim Hummel
Jack Hogan as Kirby
Conlan Carter as Doc
Pierre Jalbert as Caje
Barry Russon as Johnson
John Nealson as Pvt. Fisher
Mark Bailey as German Soldier
Peter Hellmann as German Soldier
Mike Masters as Mail Caller
Mark Tobin as German Lieutenant
Walter Davis as 1st German
Mike Krempels as 2nd German
Howard Gray as G.I.
Carl Carlsson as German Storyteller
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