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Season 4
COMBAT! episodes:

[Season 4 : Intro]
[The Linesman]
[The Main Event]
[Hear No Evil]
[9 Place Vendee]
[A Sudden Terror]
[Finest Hour]
[The Farmer]
[The Raider]
[Soldier of Fortune]
[The First Day]
[Luck with Rainbows]
[The Flying Machine]
[The Old Men]
[The Casket]
[The Good Samaritan]
[The Mockingbird]
[Hills Are for Heroes]
[Nothing to Lose]
[Ask Me No Questions]
[The Ringer]
[One at a Time]
[Run, Sheep, Run]
[The Leader]

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reviews by Jo Davidsmeyer Episodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets 

The Leader

4 bayonets
* * * *

First aired April 12, 1966
Episode 31 of Season Four

Written by Esther and Bob Mitchell
Directed by Georg Fenady
Produced by Gene Levitt


In a nearly flawless script by Esther and Bob Mitchell, PFC William G. Kirby, the squad goldbrick, is left in uneasy command of the squad during a German advance. As Kirby holds the fate of eleven men in his hand, he finds that the soldier most uncertain about Kirby's ability to lead, is Kirby. Not helping matters, Kirby has his own "Kirby" to deal with -- Maynard: a wise-cracking, smart-mouthed BAR man, who is always belly-aching and questioning orders. Littlejohn, in a nice twist on their usual relationship, becomes Kirby's most staunch and vocal supporter.

leader_kirby2.jpg (93978 bytes)In "The Leader" we watch Kirby transition through a spectrum of emotions. He matures from "cocky hall monitor left in charge" through a scared, tentative kid left holding the bag, until (with the sage advice of Doc) he finally trusts his own instincts and becomes a true leader among men. The script is packed with action, moving quickly through both a complex, shifting tactical situation and the constantly flowing emotional state of the characters. This episode has no fat in it. The first act contains more plot than in some entire episodes. The growth and forced maturity of Kirby under fire is believable, thanks to this intensely literate and thoughtful script and a strong performance by Jack Hogan.

Oddities, Notes, and Bloopers

  • re-used footage of the amublance from "Off Limits" -- I guess Saunders is treated by William Windom
  • Saunders is nearly on death's door for half the episode and all he has is a lousy crease on the temple?
  • lovely night-time barrage effects
  • William Bryant, Maynard in this episode, became squad regular McCall in the final season of "Combat!"

leader_saundersandhanley.jpg (111882 bytes)Cast Credits

Rick Jason
as Lt. Hanley

Vic Morrow
as Sgt. Saunders

Jack Hogan as Kirby Pierre
Jalbert as Caje
Dick Peabody as Littlejohn
Conlan Carter as Doc

William Bryant as Maynard
Michael Vandever as Scott
Steven Marlo as Austin
Tim Felix as Stice Andre
Phillippe as Grover
Richard Chambers as Lloyd
Richard Tretter as Wills
Michael Barrier as Dean

Beau van den Ecker .... German
Larry Gelbman .... German Sergeant
David Ross .... Wounded Soldier
Bill Harlow .... Sgt. Meade
Mike Masters .... Runner
Louie Elias .... Johnson

Dialog Excerpts

Doc, you think I made a mess of it? Two more dead.
Well, there's another way a-lookin' at it Kirby. You know there's nine of us still alive. You did all right. The trip wire worked. It helped.
Helped a lot more when Sarge did it up on that hill.
Yeah, but that had nothing to do with this. The Sarge had a machine gun, it was raining, the terrain was different, It's not the same thing at all.
But the Sarge --
Yeah, but the Sarge ain't here, Kirby. And he ain't likely to be here before we get out of this thing. You know, you oughta stop worrying about what the Sarge would do. It's what you're gonna do that counts. Kirby, whether we live or die tonight depends on you, and nobody else.

[sound clip] What To Do (92 k)

He's pretty bad, huh Doc?
Kirby, they all are.

william_bryant_in_the_leader2.jpg (112232 bytes)Maynard:
Boy, are we in bad shape. Four dead, three wounded, cut off, surrounded, and Kirby in charge.
What would you do, Maynard?
Pull back and work our way to the CP.
Yeah. Sure. With three wounded men and Kraut patrols between us and home.
So we take our chances. Couldn't be any worse than this. Or do you just want to sit around and wait to be killed because Kirby says so?
That's right, Maynard. Because Kirby's in charge. Maybe you think you could do better. But, like I said, Kirby's in charge, so why don't you just shut up.

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File last updated June 28, 2012

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