Combat! reviews by Jo Davidsmeyer
Episodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets
(129) The Losers
(Guest star John Considine and Dick Peabody)
RATING: 2 bayonets
Written by Edward J. Lakso
Directed by Michael Caffey
First aired 20-Sep-1966
Episode 2 of Season 5
Saunders and Littlejohn arrive at the command post at St. Viet to pick up six
men for a mission as the town is under attack and everyone is evacuating. They
find four jailed G.I.s and conscript them into duty to blow up a bridge. When
this ragtag lot encounter Germans, the worst in each man comes out.
In five seasons of picking up raw recruits and bad apples, Saunders scrapes
the bottom of the barrel with his conscripts in "The Losers." This story of
second chances has remarkable opening footage showing the devastation of war. Rubble
and corpses are everywhere and medics rush desperately to save lives in a
world exploding around them.
John Considine, as Lennon, appeared twice in season one as Private Templeton.
In "The Losers," he plays a delicate soldier arrested for desertion under fire.
Ash, the busted "The sergeant, wants to run the operation and take charge of
his sidekick Candel, who was arrested for drunk and disorderly. Klein (Bill
Bixby) is a gum-chewing black marketer.
Writer Edward Lakso captured Littlejohn well in this episode. Lakso has the
essence of this gentle giant. In fifth season, most writers give Dick Peabody
little to work with as Littlejohn, relegating him to a bumbling hayseed. But when
he is given something to sink his teeth into, as in "The Losers," Dick Peabody
rises to the challenge. This script shows both sides of Littlejohn's nature and
his intense loyalty to Saunders. Littlejohn is gentle and sympathetic with
Lennon, but with Klein, who doesn't even fire a shot during the battle, he is
threatening and dangerous.
NOTES, ODDITIES, AND BLOOPERS:
· Shot at Korbel winery, Franklin Canyon, and downtown Los Angeles.
· The bridge explosion shows the destruction of a real bridge, not a fake one.
The Korbel property needed to have an old bridge removed and replaced with a new
structure, so effects man A.D. Flowers got to do the destruction on film for
· Bill Bixby chews gum throughout the episode, even while in the river setting
ABOUT FILMING THE EPISODE:
The opening sequence of the rubble was shot in downtown Los Angeles in a
building that had just been demolished. Dick Peabody says "Our producer, when he
read about the demolition in the paper, wisely said, 'Hey, lets do it down there.'"
(guest star Bill Bixby pictured below)
Vic Morrow as Sgt. Saunders
Rick Jason as Lt. Hanley (does not appear)
Bill Bixby as Kline
Harry Landers as Ash
John Considine as Lennon
Bill Gray as Candell
Dick Peabody as Littlejohn
Ed Deemer as American Lieutenant
Mark Russi as German Officer