One of television's most popular series, the groundbreaking Combat! offers a gritty, unflinching look at American soldiers battling in Europe during World War II, confronting imposing odds and demonstrating remarkable leve... more »ls of ingenuity and courage.« less
Kevin R. Austra | Delaware Valley, USA | 10/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Season five was COMBAT!'s final year as a prime time ABC television series. By its fifth season, COMBAT! was in color. For that reason alone these DVDs are a must. Never has the show appeared in such glorious format as the digitally restored fifth season. The cinematography is excellent and equal to any of the war movies filmed today.
Comments have been made to the effect that color contributed to the demise of COMBAT! in that the show lost its gritty World War Two look. Not really. Remember that in 1967, the majority of family television sets in the United States were still black and white. For most of us growing up in the 1960s, COMBAT! was viewed in black and white whether it was color or not. Additionally, COMBAT! turned to color about the time most television series also made the transition. Remember that other series of the day, also had their first episodes or seasons in black and white.
What eventually killed the show was its production company's budget. Selmur Productions was looking to syndicate COMBAT! before too many households acquired color television sets. In those days, a prime time television series could not be syndicated until it finished its run. As such, Selmur Productions launched a COMBAT! spinoff, GARRISON'S GORILLAS, to replace Vic Morrow and Rick Jason.
The budget affected COMBAT!'s fifth season in other ways. Filming at MGM studios became too expensive, so the COMBAT! crew moved to CBS studios -- albeit, with a handful of returns to the MGM French village for camera shots that could not be procured anywhere else. As CBS did not have a wooded backlot, COMBAT! was shot more often in Franklin Canyon, the Korbel winery, and other locations. A demolished building complex in downtown Los Angelos also provided a backdrop for shooting.
Between seasons four and five, Vic Morrow reportedly demanded a hefty increase in salary. As Morrow shared star billing with Rick Jason, Jason's salary increase automatically matched Morrow's raise. The other squad regulars also received modest raises. Unfortunately, the salary increases and use of color did not increase the budget for the show. Cutbacks had to be made. You will see in season five there are very few episodes that include the full squad. Morrow and Jason were paid whether they appeared or not. For the other actors, if they did not appear in an episode, they were not paid.
Season five also suffered a drop in the number of episodes. There are less than thirty shows in the fifth season. Still, thirty 50-minute episodes is better than the average 21 season episodes today's televison series.
COMBAT! was the BAND OF BROTHERS of its day. The only two things that separate COMBAT! from BAND OF BROTHERS are that the COMBAT! scripts are fictional and the color is not washed out.
Season five has some great episodes. The show could have lasted another one or two seasons had it not been replaced with GARRISON'S GORILLAS. On the other hand, COMBAT! successfully stretched the 1944 battle of France into five years. Not bad for a military televison series.
One of the things I was looking forward to was the pilot of GARRISON'S GORILLAS. During COMBAT!'s fifth season, the GARRISON'S GORILLAS pilot was shot in two versions. The first was as an episode of COMBAT! featuring Rick Jason as the familiar Lt. Hanley. Alternate takes were filmed that did not include Jason. The Selmur Productions plan was to screen the pilot for network executives. If they okayed the pilot, then the non-COMBAT! version would be aired. If the pilot failed to get approval the pilot would have ended up as an episode of COMBAT! Ultimately the stand-alone version of GORILLAS was broadcast. GARRISON'S GORILLAS could hardly be dubbed the successor to COMBAT! except that it occupied the latter's time slot. GARRISON'S GORILLAS was a television version of THE DIRTY DOZEN and used the same production crew, stuntmen, and uniforms. Though GARRISON'S GORILLAS is inferior to COMBAT!, it would be nice to see the solitary season of the show released on DVD to fully complete the collection.
One of things I did miss about the final COMBAT! season episodes is that when these shows originally premiered, the first shows began with a brief teaser stating, "COMBAT! In Color." In the 1990s when the last season of COMBAT! was re-broadcast on Armed Forces Network the teaser was included. This announcement is missing in the DVD release. In enjoying this final half of the season make sure you do not skip the two-part special feature on the making of COMBAT! It makes up for the short season."
Last Season of Combat!
JerS | Florida | 09/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The 5th Season is known as the season in color since it was the only one filmed with color, however it was also a different producer. This was evident in the quality of the episodes. Rarely was the entire squad together in an episode. The endings seemed to me to be incomplete, open-ended, unsettled. The edge was not as intense as in earlier seasons. This is in my opinion the fault of the 5th Season. The technical aspects of the DVD itself is excellent. The color is enhanced making it a 5 star quality. As for the Garrison's Gorillas issue, I agree with the previous reviewers who want to continue the DVD collection with the only season filmed. I do feel it is a "spin-off" and should complete the set. The cancellation of Garrison's Gorillas was not due to lack of quality but more to do with the backlash in US over the Vietnam War. Congress took issue with the violence. Pity they ended it. I think future seasons would have allowed more character development and emphasis since the show centered around the 5 characters as opposed to the act of seeing how many Germans could be eliminated per episode. Combat! centered more on the actual war and duties of a squad. It allowed and insite into what the men experienced in WWII. I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated both aspects. Since both shows are products of ABCTV it seems that the one season of Garrison's Gorillas could be converted to DVD. I think there is a market out there. The show has only rerun once in US but continues in some foreign countries like UK and China where it converts many new young fans viewing it for the first time."
A Combat/GG DVD
Denise E. Woods | 09/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Since I am a fan of both Combat and Garrison's Gorillas, I would definitely purchase the Combat DVD set again IF the Garrison's Gorillas series was added. There has been talk in the fan groups that there is an "unaired" version of Garrison's Gorillas first episode, The Big Con, in which some of the cast of Combat appears. Whether Garrison's Gorillas is viewed as a spin-off from Combat, or not, it would be nice to see that show presented in its entirety on DVD, along with commentary from the show's surviving cast and crew as well.
I also would like to comment on Kenneth Gillespie's impression of GG fans! Oh, how I beg to differ, Mr. Gillespie! I am a fan of both Combat and Garrison's Gorillas and I have been happily MARRIED for the last 28 years. Since you think I am *so* "mature," well, given a choice between Alzheimer's Disease and still being able to recall how handsome the actors were, I think I'll take the latter.....thank you very much! "
I don't care what anybody says...
cinemaniak | New York | 09/26/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"...My TV war library is incomplete without GARRISON'S GORILLAS, RAT PATROL, TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH, BLUE LIGHT (Robert Goulet), and McHALE'S NAVY (Ernest Borgnine)! How long will I have to wait for these?"
Turn off the color
Eddie Wood | Portland, Or | 08/29/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The consensus of the critics is that the fifth and last season of "Combat" was weak, due to it's being in color. That is a valid criticism, as much of what made "Combat" unique among television shows was it's gritty realism, and movie-like look. That and we tend to see World War II as a "black and white war." I watched the first episode in color, and indeed, it just wasn't the same. So I decided to turn the color off for the rest of the series. Once the distraction of color was gone, I could concentrate on the quality of the episodes. Surprisingly, they are as good as the rest of the other four seasons. It is truly amazing how well the producers, writers, directors and cast maintained such a high level of excellence throughout the show's run. Sure, there were a few clunkers, and a few re-makes of the same basic episodes, but for the most part, creativity was the goal of everyone involved. One has to remember to view the show through 1960's eyes, not the way shows are made now. You know the main characters are never going to die, the Germans are always the ones to jump up and get shot, and are lousy aims, but artistic license is at play here as in most action programs.It's interesting to speculate how different a series "Combat" would have been if there'd been an HBO back then.The only truly annoying aspect of the DVD collection is the inane "Notes, Oddities and Bloopers" by Jo Davidsmeyer, who wrote a book about "Combat." Who really cares if Jack Hogan's cufflinks don't match or Dick Peabody forgot to tie his boots? William Shatner had it right when talking about the obsession of Trekkies: "Get a life!" And as for critics, they're mostly failed writers and/or performers. watch the episodes and be your own critic! The only real disappointment in Season 5 is that there was no closing eoisode, where the war would end and the guys could celebrate and reflect. Given the huge success of the final episode of "The Fugitive," it's baffling that the producers didn't film a final episode for when the series ended. As a viewer you feel somewhat cheated. But all in all, "Combat" holds up pretty damn well 40 years on."