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Season 4 Introduction:
More contract negotiations

As the fourth season began, the cast was celebrating their success in the previous season. They had finished in tenth place in the ratings. Prior to that, many individual episodes had been ratings successes, but third season was the first (and last) time the series, as a whole, scored well.

Vic Morrow used the success to launch another bid for a salary increase. He was successful, raising his (and Rick Jason's) salary to $6,000 per episode, making him one of the highest paid actors in series television. It also prompted Selmur to start looking for alternatives to their high-paid stars. They produced a pilot for another television series. It was not picked up, but they hoped the pilot would help show Vic Morrow that he could be replaced.

The continued clashes wore on producer Gene Levitt. Rick Jason recalls, "It got to the point where Gene Levitt just hated him [Vic Morrow]. I was in the office one day with Gene, and Gene said to me 'I hate him.' We were at the end of the third year and Gene had one more year to go." Gene quit toward the end of the fourth season. He could not take the continued stress.

After a full season of working without a contract, Conlan Carter decided that enough was enough. He walked into the front office and said that he wanted a contract or he was quitting. They agreed. "It changed nothing really, except the security of a contract," says Conlan Carter.

Combat! began to show its age in the fourth season. Plots start to be recycled and some new, inexperienced directors helmed the cameras. Michael Caffey and Georg Fenady, who had been assistant directors for Combat! since the first season, became directors in the fourth season. Their familiarity with the locations and the actors served them well.

This season produced the finest episode of the entire series: "Hills Are for Heroes ," directed by Vic Morrow. The show, which ran over schedule and over budget, became a source of contention between the producers and Vic Morrow. But the cast enjoyed the 21-day shoot, many giving their best performances in the two-part episode.

"A great part of my performance was due to Vic," says Rick Jason. "I was able to do it, because Vic gave me the time to do it. And I'd never been given the time before, none of us were given the time. You find Vic repeating himself over and over and over again in segment to segment to segment, doing a lot of the same moves, the same attitudes, the same things. It was repetition — it was gorgeous repetition, but the point is, it was repetition. I tried never to repeat myself, but it was almost impossible. But [in "Hills"] he gave me an opportunity to think. He gave me time. This is why feature films will always be better than television, because television doesn't give you time. You have to settle into a character, and just play the character straight down the line without thinking."

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