F Troop: Wikis

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F Troop
FTroop.jpg
Cover art from the 2006 DVD release of the 1st season of F Troop showing stars (clockwise from top) Forrest Tucker, Larry Storch, Melody Patterson and Ken Berry
Genre Sitcom
Created by Seaman Jacobs
Ed James
Jim Barnett
Starring Ken Berry
Forrest Tucker
Larry Storch
Melody Patterson
James Hampton
Frank Dekova
Bob Steele
Joe Brooks
Theme music composer William Lava
Irving Taylor
Composer(s) William Lava
Frank Comstock
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 65 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) William T. Orr (1965–1966)
Hy Averback (1966–1967)
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 22–24 minutes
Production company(s) Warner Bros. Television
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Picture format Black-and-white(1965–1966)
Color (1966–1967)
Audio format Monaural
Original run September 14, 1965 (1965-09-14) – April 6, 1967 (1967-04-06)
Status Ended

F Troop is a satirical American television sitcom that originally aired from 1965 to 1967 on ABC. It debuted in the United States on September 14, 1965 and concluded its run on April 6, 1967, producing a total of 65 episodes. The first season of 34 episodes was filmed in black-and-white, but the show switched to color for the second season. Reruns premiered on the ITV network in the United Kingdom on October 29, 1968, and were screened repeatedly until July 16, 1974. The series was also broadcast nationally in Australia on ABC-TV and in Ireland on Telefís Éireann.

Contents

Story

F Troop is set at Fort Courage, Kansas, a fictional United States Army outpost in the West, shortly after the American Civil War ended in 1865. There was a town of the same name next to the fort. The show is light on historical accuracy (e.g. the uniforms, weapons, salute and calling a company "troop" are incorrect for the period), but is heavy on humor.

The commanding officer is the gallant but clumsy and accident-prone Captain Wilton Parmenter (Ken Berry), descended from a long line of military officers. He was awarded the Medal of Honor after accidentally instigating the final charge at the Battle of Appomattox. Only a lieutenant, he was ordered to fetch his commanding officer's laundry. When he rode away, pollen in the air caused him to sneeze repeatedly. He sneezed loudly as he passed a group of soldiers, and they mistook his sneeze for an order to charge. His superiors, wishing to reward his action, promoted him to captain, and in view of his ineptness-gave him command of remote Fort Courage, a dumping ground for the Army's least useful soldiers.

Much of the humor derived from the schemes of Captain Parmenter's non-commissioned officers, Sergeant O'Rourke and Corporal Agarn, with the local Indian tribe, the Hekawis, alternately seeking to expand and conceal their illicit business, O'Rourke Enterprises. There are also struggles by Parmenter to exert his authority and escape the matrimonial plans of his girlfriend, shopkeeper–postmaster Jane Angelica Thrift, known as "Wrangler Jane".

Opening theme music

The effectiveness of F Troop is clarified in the show's opening theme. The words of the song (by Irving Taylor) were only used in the first season's opening credits, along with comical F-Troop battle scenes intercut with stock Wild West Indian battle footage. The second season opening credits used a modified version with no lyrics, over still cartoon scenes of F Troop.

The end of the Civil War was near,
When quite accidentally,
A hero who sneezed, abruptly seized
Retreat and reversed it to victory.
His Medal of Honor pleased and thrilled
His proud little family group.
While pinning it on, some blood was spilled,
And so it was planned he'd command ... F-Troop!
Where Indian fights are colorful sights
And nobody takes a lickin',
Where paleface and redskin
Both turn chicken.
When drilling and fighting get them down,
They know their morale can't droop,
As long as they all relax in town
Before they resume, with a bang and a boom ... F-Troop!

Regular characters

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F Troop officer & enlisted men

  • Captain Wilton Parmenter (Ken Berry), the "Scourge of the West" – is credited with keeping the peace, which is in fact really kept by O'Rourke's secret treaty with the Hekawi. When the need to keep up appearances arises, the troopers and the Hekawi stage mock battles for the benefit of outsiders. He is successful at keeping the peace – he just doesn't know why. Parmenter is invariably kind and encouraging to his men – and always bravely, but ineptly, leads them into action. Parmenter is chronically clumsy, unable to fold maps and frequently becomes entangled with his ceremonial sword.
  • Sergeant Morgan Sylvester O'Rourke (Forrest Tucker) – the Sgt. Bilko of his day. O'Rourke's business dealings involve illegally running the local saloon and an exclusive-rights treaty with the local Indian tribe (the Hekawi) to sell their "authentic" souvenirs to tourists. He calls his dealings "O'Rourke Enterprises". (Doubly ironic is that Tucker had actually served in the US Cavalry prior to World War II and played a similar "O'Rourke" Cavalry Sergeant on Gunsmoke). Many of his schemes fail. It is mentioned that O'Rourke was a veteran of the Mexican-American War, but nothing is said about the Civil War. Presumably, he spent the war years at Fort Courage.
  • Corporal Randolph (No Middle Initial) Agarn (Larry Storch) – O'Rourke's dimwitted sidekick and business partner in the illegal O'Rourke Enterprises scheme. His name is a play on both Randolph Scott and John Agar. The episode El Diabolo features his Mexican bandit cousin who, like other members of his family, all look exactly like him. Running gag: Agarn makes a suggestion; O'Rourke: "Agarn, I don't know why they say you're so dumb!" At an inappropriate moment a few minutes later Agarn asks: "Who says I'm dumb?!" Like O'Rourke, Agarn apparently spent the Civil War years at Fort Courage.
  • Private First Class Hannibal Shirley Dobbs (James Hampton) – F Troop's inept bugler, who can only play "Yankee Doodle" and "Dixie" with regularity. Standard Army tunes like "Reveille", "Assembly" and "Retreat" are only occasionally played well. He is also Captain Parmenter's personal assistant as serving in the fort's cannon crew, usually with disastrous results. Private Dobbs is as a 'thorn' in Agarn's side, with his regular taunts resulting in Agarn's retort, "I'm warning you, Dobbs!"
  • Private Vanderbilt (Joe Brooks) – a legally-blind lookout (20/900 in each eye, according to Agarn) who also answers questions in the lookout tower with responses such as, "No, thank you Corporal. I just had my coffee." He once allowed two Indians wearing feather head-dresses to enter the fort unchallenged. Asked why, he replied, "I thought they were turkeys." A running gag has Agarn kicking the fort's cannon in frustration after it misfires, only to see one of its wheels come off, setting it off, sending a cannonball into one of the tower's support legs, causing the tower to collapse and sending Vanderbilt crashing to the ground. In one episode he accidentally shoots his pistol in a crowded barracks and misses everyone.
  • Trooper Duffy (Bob Steele) – an elderly cavalryman with a limp. Duffy is the lone survivor of the siege of the Alamo in 1836. Duffy loves to recount his exploits alongside the heroes of the Alamo, "shoulder to shoulder and backs to the wall". Parmenter discovers that Duffy is listed in Army records as having been killed in action. (Steele was a 1930s and '40s Western movie and serial star, and had been in a 1926 movie about meeting Davy Crockett at the Alamo)

Townspeople

  • "Wrangler" Jane Angelica Thrift (Melody Patterson) – Captain Parmenter's beautiful but tomboyish girlfriend, who runs the local general store and post office. She is determined to marry the naive Parmenter, and is often obliged to rescue him from his various predicaments. Patterson was only 16 years old when the series began.
  • Charlie – the town drunk (veteran stuntman Harvey Parry), who usually took his leave of the saloon through the plate-glass window. Fort Courage got Charlie from Dodge City. "We were lucky to get him – Dodge had a spare." —Capt. Parmenter.

The Hekawi tribe and tribal members

The Hekawi tribe supposedly derived their name from an incident in which the tribe became lost, exclaiming "Where the heck are we?", which then became "Where the Hekawi?" The original name for the tribe, 'Fugawi', was to be changed after the censors discovered the sentence "Where the Fugawi?"[1] They are partners in O'Rourke Enterprises and produce most of the company's products. They are a peace-loving tribe — Agarn has to teach them a war dance. They have a 50/50 deal with O'Rourke and have a still which produces the whiskey for the saloon. As a sly jest based on the myth that Native Americans are the 13th tribe of Israel, many of the Hekawi Indians were played by veteran Yiddish comedians using classic Yiddish shtick, particularly Chief Wild Eagle and Medicine Man Roaring Chicken. The regular "Indian" characters (none of whom were played by Native American actors) include:

  • Chief Wild Eagle (Frank Dekova) – shrewd leader of the Hekawi tribe and business partner in the illegal O'Rourke Enterprises scheme. Often O'Rourke, Parmenter, and Jane come to him for advice when they have a problem. Wild Eagle has an old Indian saying for every occasion which even he sometimes admits he does not know the meaning of. In the second season, DeKova is listed in the opening credits.
  • Crazy Cat (Don Diamond) – Chief Wild Eagle's assistant and heir apparent. He often speculates on when he will become chief, and is subsequently rebuked by Chief Wild Eagle. He is not a featured character until the second season.

Recurring characters

In order of number of appearances:

  • Private Duddleson (Ivan Bell) – a sleepy, obese soldier who is hit on the head repeatedly by Agarn for having his body in line but not his belly, or sleeping when he's supposed to be at attention.
  • Private Hoffenmueller (John Mitchum) – trooper who only speaks in his native German. According to the fort's personnel records (doctored by O'Rourke to inflate the payroll) Hoffenmueller can speak Cherokee, Sioux, Apache, and Hekawi. "We can use you as an interpreter ... just as soon as you learn to speak English" —Capt. Parmenter.
  • Roaring Chicken (Edward Everett Horton) – aged medicine man (veteran actor Horton appeared as Roaring Chicken in the first season only, and only in certain episodes. Horton also guest starred on the 1960's Batman as a villain called "Chief Screaming Chicken").
  • Private Leonard "Wrongo" Starr (Henry Gibson) – a jinxed soldier. He appears in "Wrongo Starr and the Lady in Black" and in "The Return of Wrongo Starr." Alternative explanations are given for the jinx. The name is a play on the name of Ringo Starr.
  • Pete – bartender for O' Rourke's saloon. He is only seen in the first season but is mentioned several times in the second.

Other members of F Troop

Several members of F Troop were only mentioned or only seen in passing. They are listed in approximate order of their first mention or appearance in the series:

  • Gilbert
  • Sullivan
  • Lewis
  • Clark
  • Stanley
  • Livingston
  • Holmes
  • Watson
  • Hogan
  • Hightower
  • Anderson
  • Henderson
  • Scully (there is also a bartender named Scully in Season Two)
  • Jones
  • Barnes
  • MacIntosh

Double roles

In several episodes, one of the stars plays a double role:

  • Larry Storch as Agarn's Canadian fur-trapper cousin, "Lucky Pierre," Agarn's Mexican bandit cousin "El Diablo," and Agarn's Russian soldier cousin, "Col. Dimitri Agarnoff." In one episode, Agarn pretends to be George Washington.
  • Ken Berry as an outlaw, "Kid Vicious"
  • Forrest Tucker as O'Rourke's father

Guest stars

Many established actors and comedians appeared as guest stars in the show, including Henry Gibson, Harvey Korman, Don Rickles, Jack Elam, Lee Meriwether, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Patrice Wymore, Mike Mazurki and British-born character actor Bernard Fox. Veteran American actress Mae Clark (whose two F-Troop appearances were her last screen credits) had played Elisabeth in the famous 1931 Universal version of Frankenstein and was the recipient of the famous grapefruit-in-the-face from Jimmy Cagney in The Public Enemy. Other notable actors who played minor roles include Jamie Farr, who became famous in the 1970s as the cross-dressing Corporal Klinger in M*A*S*H[2].

Episodes

Season One (Black and White)

  • Scourge of the West Introduction
  • Don't Look Now, One of Our Cannons Is Missing
  • The Phantom Major
  • Corporal Agarn's Farewell to the Troops
  • The Return of Bald Eagle
  • Dirge for the Scourge
  • The Girl from Philadelphia
  • Old Ironpants
  • Me Heap Big Injun
  • She's Only a Build in an Girdled Cage
  • A Gift From the Chief
  • Honest Injun
  • O'Rourke vs. O'Reilly
  • The 86 Proof Spring
  • Here Comes the Tribe
  • Iron Horse Go Home
  • Our Hero, What's His Name?
  • Wrongo Starr and the Lady in Black
  • El Diablo
  • Go for Broke
  • The New I. G.
  • Spy, Counterspy, Counter Counterspy
  • The Courtship of Wrangler Jane
  • Play, Gypsy, Play
  • Reunion for O'Rourke
  • Captain Parmenter, One Man Army
  • Don't Ever Speak to Me Again
  • Too Many Cooks Spoil the Troop
  • Indian Fever
  • Johnny Eagle Eye
  • A Fort's Best Friend is Not a Mother
  • Lieutenant O'Rourke, Front and Center
  • The Day the Indians Won
  • Will the Real Captain Try to Stand Up?

Season Two (Color)

  • The Singing Mountie
  • How to Be F Troop Without Really Trying
  • Bye, Bye, Balloon
  • Reach for the Sky, Pardner
  • The Great Troop Robbery
  • The West Goes Ghost
  • Yellow Bird
  • The Ballot of Corporal Agarn
  • Did Your Father Come from Ireland?
  • For Whom the Bugle Tolls
  • Miss Parmenter
  • La Dolce Courage
  • Wilton the Kid
  • The Return of Wrongo Starr
  • Survival of the Fittest
  • Bring on the Dancing Girls
  • The Loco Brothers
  • From Karate with Love
  • The Sergeant and the Kid
  • What Are You Doing After the Massacre?
  • A Horse of Another Color
  • V is for Vampire
  • That's Show Biz
  • The Day They Shot Agarn
  • Only One Russian Is Coming! Only One Russian Is Coming!
  • Guns, Guns, Who's Got the Guns?
  • Marriage, Fort Courage Style
  • Carpetbagging, Anyone?
  • The Majority of Wilton
  • Our Brave in F Troop
  • Is This Fort Really Necessary?

Creation and production

Although the show's opening credits claim F Troop was created by Richard Bluel, a final arbitration by the Writers Guild of America eventually gave Seaman Jacobs, Ed James, and Jim Barnett credit.

Episode writers included Arthur Julian (who, alone, wrote 29 of the 65 episodes), Stan Dreben (Green Acres), Seaman Jacobs, Howard Merrill (The Dick van Dyke Show), Ed James, Austin and Irma Kalish, and the highly successful comedy writing duo of Tom Adair and James B. Allardice, who collaborated on some of the most successful American TV sitcoms of the 1960s, including The Munsters, My Three Sons, Gomer Pyle, USMC and Hogan's Heroes.

The series was directed by Charles Rondeau and Leslie Goodwins, among many others, and produced by William T. Orr and Hy Averback. I. Stanford Jolley, Forrest Tucker's former father-in-law, appeared as Colonel Ferguson in the 1966 episode "Survival of the Fittest".

The entire series was shot on the Warner Bros. backlot in Southern California.

The show's ratings were still healthy after the second year, but according to Tucker, Warner Bros.' new owners, Seven Arts, discontinued production because they thought it was wasteful for so much of the Warner Ranch being taken up by a single half-hour TV show. Producer William Orr says the studio was unhappy with the added costs of producing the show in color during its second season.

Syndication

Although only two seasons were produced, F Troop enjoyed a healthy second life in syndication, much like fellow two-year run entries The Munsters, The Monkees, and The Addams Family, from the same era. The show was a particular favorite on Nick at Nite in the 1990s, running from 1991 to 1995 despite an archive of only 65 episodes.

DVD releases

On September 27, 2005, Warner Home Video released the first F Troop DVD compilation as part of its "Television Favorites" series. The six-episode DVD included three black-and-white episodes and three color episodes. Previously, at the close of the VCR era, 30 of the series' 60 episodes were digitally remastered and released in 1998 on ten VHS tapes by Columbia House.

Following the successful sales from the "Television Favorites" release, Warner Home Video released F Troop: The Complete First Season, with all 34 black-and-white episodes included.

The Complete Second Season of F Troop was released on DVD on May 29, 2007. The DVD features interviews with original F Troop members, writers and other production personnel, as well as behind-the-scenes information. However, only one major actor from the series, Ken Berry, was interviewed for the half hour special. There were also audio segments of an interview with actor Joe Brooks ("Private Vanderbilt").

References

External links


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