Combat! reviews by Jo Davidsmeyer
Episodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets
(097) The Linesman
RATING: 2 bayonets
Guest Star Jack Lord
Teleplay by Edward J. Lakso
Story by Gene Levitt
Directed by Tom Gries
First aired 05-Oct-1965
Episode 4 of Season 4
SYNOPSIS: A hostile signal corps sergeant,
McClosky, balks at having Saunders as escort on a mission to lay wire. He holds Saunders
responsible for the death of one of his men. The mission is nearly botched by McClosky's
attitude and Littlejohn's loss of a reel of phone wire.
Viewers of the episode " Bridge At Chalons," will have deja
vu watching "The Linesman," right down to Littlejohn bumbling the wire. Jack
Lord's specialist-with-an-attitude does not trust the lives of his men in Saunders care.
By fourth season, Saunders is less willing to take abuse from an arrogant specialist, but
otherwise, the story is much the same as "Bridge at Chalons" except this
time no medal recommendation for Saunders, just the satisfaction of knowing his patented pep talk (NCO variant)
still works its magic.
footage opens up this episode, and surrounds the squad with non-tropical foliage. The
story drags, possibly because of too many scenic shots. The long shots inserted to justify
Gene Levitt's European vacation are lovely, especially when using the distinctive
architecture of the area. But the extreme long shots in the farmland might as well have
been shot at Thousand Oaks. From that distance, grass looks the same the world over.
NOTES, ODDITIES, AND BLOOPERS:
ABOUT FILMING THE EPISODE:
Jack Hogan says, "Actors love to be loved. But sometimes you'll come on
and you're supposed to be the bad guy. Vic was supposed to be the good guy in that show
and Jack was supposed to be the bad guy ... Jack didn't want to be ugly. So, he wasn't
really doing his job. He was trying to be more wonderful than our fearless leader, Vic
Morrow. That happened a lot of times. Rip Torn, who was a nice guy and a terribly good
actor. Same thing. He was supposed to be bad, but wanted to be effective or good or
whatever it was. So, I think you're not quite doing your job if you're trying to be Mr.
Wonderful and the part doesn't call for you to be Mr. Wonderful."
- Vic Morrow and Jack Lord were antagonistic on- and off-screen. They had clashed in
the past, coming to blows during the filming of God's Little Acre.
- The exteriors of bridges, chateaus, and farmlands are shot in the Loire valley of
France. The editor interspersed these with the MGM backlot and Franklin Canyon. Note how
shots of Earl Parker in a tree with an authentic French village in the background intercut
to a closeup of Jack Lord in the tree. (Read more about filming
Combat! in France.)
- The chateau used in filming is Chambord
in Loire, France.
Vic Morrow as Sgt. Saunders
Rick Jason as Lt. Hanley
Jack Lord as Barney McKlosky
Jack Hogan as Kirby
Dick Peabody as Littlejohn
Pierre Jalbert as Caje
Peter Duryea as Pvt. O'Connor
Heinz Brinkman as German Lieutenant
Horst Ebersberg as German Sergeant
Gerd Rein as German
Tom J. Stears as Pvt. Locke
Peter Hellmann as German Soldier
Chris Anders as German Sergeant
For more about the Signal Corps, see: The Signal Corps in the Pacific