On an unrelated thread, Philip Portelli wrote:

 

"To the Commander: I would be very interested to hear your views on M*A*S*H, McHale's Navy, and particularly Hogan's Heroes, given your service. I know that they were comedies but I would like to hear your views, if or when you want. Heck comment on CPO Sharkey for that matter!"

 

I'll try.

 

First, let me state that, with regard to military series, both dramatic and comedic, television imposes certain necessary restraints to accuracy.  I understand this.  J.A.G. demonstrated a few of these necessary bars to accuracy.  For ten years, the two stars served in the same billets at J.A.G. headquarters (except for occasional story arcs which temporarily shifted them around).  Normal tours in the military are eighteen months to three years, at the most, and usually are two years.  So, no way that would have happened in real life.  But I understand that a popular show just can't go retooling itself with new formats and new cast members every couple of years.  So I can accept that as a necessary fictional device.

 

Also, the two stars would not have reported to the Judge Advocate General of the Navy directly, as they did in the show.  There would be a Chief of Staff and other ACOS's in the hierarchy.  But then you're talking about the expense of additional cast members, so I can accept that as a necessary fictional device, as well.

 

Those kinds of things I grudgingly give a pass to.  Other things I do not.  Things which do not affect the budget, such as improper military protocol or errors in the uniform.  These things don't cost a cent to fix, and J.A.G. had the least excuse of all shows for such mistakes creeping in.  J.A.G. had a retired rear admiral on the payroll as an advisor.  He must have been asleep through many of the episodes, though, for all the uniform mistakes---and obvious ones to anybody in the Navy---to have gotten by.

 

And, sure, many military-related series, especially sitcoms, didn’t hire a military expert as an advisor.  But you can sure bet the shows received mail from vets who watched the show and called them on errors.  So when I see mistakes of this sort appear, my estimation of the show immediately drops.

 

Now, to military sitcoms.

 

I understand, in order to evoke humour, certain aspects of military life have to exaggerated or lampooned.  But the key here---from my standpoint as a military man---is to not go beyond my willing suspension of disbelief.  Granted, the bar is higher for me than it is for someone who has never served.  And there are lots more of career civilian television watchers than there are career military television watchers.  So, if a producer wants to play the numbers game, he can go as extreme as he wants.

 

On the other hand, television history has had several military-oriented sitcoms that were successful and never strayed across my line of believability.

 

Let’s start with the two military sitcoms that are remarkable in the fact that neither one of them ever---ever---committed an error in protocol, uniform wear, or general military practice.

 

The first was Hennesey (CBS, 1959-62), starring Jackie Cooper.  This show was so remarkable that it is tied, with Father Knows Best, as my favourite sitcom ever.  It tells of a newly minted Navy physician, Lieutenant Charles “Chick” Hennesey, stationed at the Naval Dispensary in San Diego.

 

It’s a show that takes it’s humour from the characters’ reactions to simple, yet logical twists and developments in Navy life.  While Hennesey and his nurse, Martha Hale, pretty much play it straight (though they are not beyond a witty line or two), there are some characters who are “characters”---Hennesey’s commanding officer, Captain (later, Rear Admiral) Shafer, and Chief Corpsman Bronsky.  Yet, they never get so broad as to be unbelievable and underlie their minor eccentricities with remarkable humanity.  It’s a show loaded with sentimental moments, but never saccharine ones, mostly because Hennesey is just a decent, likeable man, usually right but not always.

 

As I said, Hennesey never committed a single error in military protocol, not even a situation that bordered on being impossible to really happen.  I credit this to the fact that Jackie Cooper, who also produced the show, hired a great number of military veterans as staff and he himself was a Navy veteran.  The show was also distinctive in utilising techniques infrequently seen on television then, especially in sitcoms.  It relied strongly on overlapping dialogue.  And for most episodes, it eschewed an opening credit sequence.  The show would begin with a cold open and a minute or so into it, the dialogue track go silent and the theme would play, while the credits got “painted” over the scene, which would still be going on.  Even without the benefit of dialogue, the viewer could still follow the gist of the scene. 

 

Many episodes were done without a laugh track.  Particularly one tour-de-force episode which has only two cast members---Cooper, as Hennesey, and guest star Don Rickles as a chief petty officer.  The TV Guide entry for this episode probably read:  “Hennesey gives a C.P.O. a reënlistment physical.”  Because that’s all it was.  But the dialogue keeps you so riveted that you don’t realise that nothing else takes place.

 

As in many other Hennesey episodes, something pointed out early on comes back as the clincher in the end.  And for this episode, throw away any previous conceptions of Don Rickles.  He performs with nuance and subtlety.  And in the last shot, which shows him walking toward the camera, away from the examining room, he looks and moves like every thirty-year C.P.O. I ever met.

 

Personal Sidebar:  I was a tadpole when Hennesey aired and it was the first exposure to the Navy that I ever had, and from it, I got the idea that maybe the Navy wouldn’t be such a bad place to spend my life.

 

Fast-forward to 1999.  It was Christmas Eve, and I was in my stateroom, lying on my rack, on board the flagship Blue Ridge, in Yokosuka, Japan.  I had just been assigned to the staff of Commander, SEVENTH Fleet, and the Good Mrs. Benson, having a good job that neither of us wanted her to sacrifice, was back home in the States.  The ship was quiet, practically deserted, except for duty personnel, everybody else home with his wife and family.  And I started thinking about all the events that led me to that particular point, at that particular time.

 

I followed that thread all the way back to Hennesey, which I hadn’t thought about in years.   It was about mid-night, Christmas now, when I got an idea.  I was going to write Jackie Cooper a letter, telling him how his show had been my first inspiration to join the Navy and how much satisfaction my Naval career had brought me.

 

Right then, I went down to my office and wrote.  Getting his mailing address wasn’t difficult---Cooper was still famous enough and, hey, I worked for an admiral.  And I mailed it.

 

About three weeks later, there was something on my desk from mail call.  It was a letter from Jackie Cooper, written in his own hand.  He said that my letter was one of the nicest Christmas presents he had ever received.  He was glad that Hennesey had been such an inspiration to me.  And, to me, the most important thing he wrote was that “of all the things I’ve done as a producer, director, or actor, Hennesey is the thing of which I am proudest.”

 

(The same night I also wrote and sent a letter to his Hennesey co-star, Abby Dalton, that produced some interesting results.  But that’s another story, for another post.)

 

 

 

The other error-free military sitcom came much later in television’s history, but has many of the same qualities as Hennesey.  That was Major Dad (also CBS, 1989-93).  As Hennesey was for Jackie Cooper, Major Dad was obviously a labour of love for Gerald McRaney.  While the central premise was different---die-hard Marine Corps officer meets and marries a liberal-minded lady journalist with three daughters---it shared Hennesey’s impeccability in showing both the light side and the serious side of military life, including the grimness of combat, without diluting either.  Like Hennesey, some of the regular characters were slightly eccentric but never beyond feasibility and were always underlaid with professionalism and competence. 

 

Major Dad wasn’t a “quiet” sitcom, like Hennesey.  It played comedy a bit more broadly and cranked in the generational humour with the three daughters.  And it vested Major MacGillis with a Marine Warrior image that the plots both validated and poked fun at.  It also plumbed the sentimentality well a bit more deeply, along with adding the cuteness factor of pint-sized youngest daughter, Casey.

 

It’s telling that the then-Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Al Gray, appeared in a guest spot on the show.  The Marine Corps usually doesn’t go in for that kind of thing, unless they respect a show.

 

Since I’ve rambled on here, Philip, let’s make this “part one”, and I’ll get to some of the military sitcoms you specifically mentioned on the next go ‘round.

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Speaking of television obscurities, completeness compels me to mention a forgotten and forgettable series from 1973, Roll Out, created by the same team that cooked up M*A*S*H. It told of the adventures of The Red Ball Express, an Army unit of Black soldiers that delivered supplies by truck to troops stationed in France during World War II.

 

Starring Stu Gilliam and Hilly Hicks as the wisecracking cutups, a pre-St. Elsewhere Ed Begley Jr., and two members of The Legion of "Hey, It's That Guy!" Character Actors, Mel Stuart and Val Bisoglio. It lasted half a season.

I always assumed that their answer to the show lasting many times the length of the actual war was to just give up on strict continuity at some point.

…it was on the air from 1972 to 1983, nearly four times as long as the Korean War (1950-1953)…


I recall in one of the later episodes Hawkeye commented on his grey hair: “My hair was black when I came here.” I thought that was funny (in a meta-textual kind of way).

I also remember an episode where Radar was seen to have an issue of Avengers.

I remember that was specifically because it was so obvious and so incongruous. What I didn’t remember is that Radar was frequently seen reading comics books. Most of the comics shown were whatever was on sale at the time the episode was filmed, usually a war comic but not always. I spotted an anachronistic issue of Captain Savage and his Leatherneck Raiders more than once.
Philip Portelli said:

I recall one episodes where Hawkeye learns that the number of "points" you needed to be sent home was raised so he was trapped in Korea until the end. But it gave him more opportunities to preach and commiserate about his plight and the human condition in a wartime enviroment! Hope he went on a lecture tour throughtout Crab Apple Cove!

Oh, thanks for reminding me about that.

 

I did a little more research on the question of serviceman rotation in theatre during the Korean War.  Fortunately, what I discovered doesn't invalidate what I said before, but it does require some explanation.

 

The obligated service time imposed on drafted doctors by the Selective Service Act of 1948---twenty-one months (pre-'53); two years ('53 and after)---refers only to the time that the draftees must spend in the service.  No matter where they spend it---in a battalion aid station on the 38th parallel or at a veterans' hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.

 

As far as how long a soldier's tour of duty overseas was during the Korean War, in September, 1951, the U.S. Army instituted the point system, mentioned on M*A*S*H in the instance you cited, Philip, and in the episode in which LCOL Blake was sent home.

 

For soldiers detailed to the Orient, points were allocated thusly:

 

Four points for every month spent assigned to the front lines undergoing combat or the risk of combat;

 

Three points for every month assigned to a forward field headquarters or a field support unit;

 

Two points for every month assigned to Korea attached to a rear-echelon unit;

 

One point for every month assigned anywhere else in the Far East.

 

Initially, enlisted men required 43 points to be eligible for rotation back home; officers, 55 points.  In June, 1952, the Army reduced the requirement to 36 points for enlisted men, 37 points for officers.

 

Bear in mind, having earned the required number of points didn't guarantee a serviceman's transfer out of Korea; it only meant that he was eligible to be transferred.  Other factors affected when a particular individual would receive his orders for transfer---did he possess a critical specialty?  Did he fill a critical billet?  Was there someone earmarked to assume his billet, or qualified to do so?

 

Because of these more nebulous factors, and because I really don't know the bureaucratic policies of the U.S. Army in 1950-3, I really can't advance any educated opinion on how the point system would bear on the characters in M*A*S*H.  I will suggest this, however:

 

As I recall, in the episode "Abyssinia, Henry", LCOL Blake is fairly surprised when Radar informs him that he has earned enough points and he has received orders home.  Since it is mid-1952 or later (based upon the date of COL Potter's arrival given in "Change of Command"---19 September 1952), the Army's reduction of point totals for officers had recently taken affect---from 55 points to 37.

 

Feasibly, the point-reduction caught Blake unawares.  Obviously, he had at least 37 points but not yet the 55 he probably believed he still needed to go home.  The new, lower point-totals had kicked in, however, and he had more than enough to get his orders---to his surprise.

All that was ever said about Hawkeye's arrival at the 4077 was that he was there from 'the beginning'.

With all this talk about the point system, and my own memories of the episodes cited in these posts, it is my belief that Hawkeye must have arrived sometime between the MASH unit being established and it actually receiving its first official patient. Of course, as we have seen from various 'short supplies' episodes, being established does not necessarily mean being fully up and ready to operate, no pun intended. Hawkeye could have arrived with just the tents pitched and 'not a bed pan to our name' as Henry said in one episode.

Lee Houston, Junior said:

All that was ever said about Hawkeye's arrival at the 4077 was that he was there from 'the beginning'.


If I were a scholar of the show, then I could take much firmer ground in my hypotheses.  Or I would just give up on the while thing because I would be aware of so many contradictions that there's no way a plausible time-line could be cadged together.

 

Nearly everyone here would know more in-story details presented in M*A*S*H than I do.  I'm just kind of playing with it as you guys give me facts I didn't know before.

 

From what I have now (not that one of you might recall another in-story detail that would undo what I'm about to say), the statement that Hawkeye was with the 4077 from the beginning, in and of itself, doesn't negate parts of my suggested time-line, to wit:

 

LCOL Blake and CPT McIntyre drafted c. December, 1950, which would put them in Korea around Februrary, 1951.

 

CPT Pierce drafted c. July, 1951, which would put him in Korea around October, 1951.

 

If Blake and McIntyre arrived in Korea eight months before Hawkeye, that doesn't invalidate the statement that Hawkeye was with the 4077 from the beginning.  Not if the 4077 unit wasn't formed until after Blake and McIntyre and Pierce arrived in theatre.  Perhaps the three of them were assigned to other duties upon arrival in Korea, then sometime later, the 4077 M*A*S*H unit was stood up, with Blake ordered in as commanding officer, and Pierce and McIntyre assigned as surgeons.

 

What I'm getting at is being with the 4077 from the "beginning" doesn't equate to the beginning of the war or the beginning of Pierce's conscription; it means the beginning of the 4077.

 

And that keeps the rest of the time-line I theorised intact.

 

Unless one of you had a piece of info that undermines that, which is very possible.

It rather obvious that continuity wasn't a big deal to the producers. In the early seasons, they probably didn't expect the show to last so "why bother?" may have been the prevailing attitude. In later years, when the show had already lasted longer than the war, continuity on details (names of parents, spouses, stuff like that) was much tighter but trying to lock down a time-line was fairly futile.

Figserello said:

It never occurred to me for years that MASH was set anywhere other than in Vietnam in the 70's. I was surprised to learn after the fact that it was supposed to be Korea.
Clark Kent DC replied: That was just what they wanted you to think!

Many years ago, I was able to talk with someone who worked in the movie. He told me that Robert Altman, behind the studio's back, eliminated every possible reference to the film being set in Korea. Altman wanted the audiences to think it was in Vietnam. If I remember correctly (it's been a few years since I watched the movie, although I have the DVD), the only mention of Korea is right at the beginning. Twentieth Century Fox wasn't happy with the film but couldn't argue with the success.

"M*A*S*H" the movie is actually one of the better novel adaptions that I've ever seen. Much of the movie is right out of the book. Several first season episodes of the TV series did loosely adapt events from the novel but those adaptions disappeared pretty quickly.
Well, I think Commander Benson has succeeded in ruining M*A*S*H for me, just as he’s previously “ruined” Denny O’Neil and Neal Adam’s Green Lantern/Green Arrow and “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” I’m kidding, of course, but over the weekend I watched the fifth season episode in which Hawkeye feels guilty for Radar getting wounded, tells him to go to hell and calls him a ninny. Hawkeye really screwed up, but he learns from his mistakes and comes out a better person in the end. The episode, I noticed, was written and directed by Alan Alda.

Let's try this again:

 

Speaking of television obscurities, completeness compels me to mention a forgotten and forgettable series from 1973, Roll Out, created by the same team that cooked up M*A*S*H. It told of the adventures of The Red Ball Express, an Army unit of Black soldiers that delivered supplies by truck to troops stationed in France during World War II.

 

 

Starring Stu Gilliam and Hilly Hicks as the wisecracking cutups, a pre-St. Elsewhere Ed Begley Jr., and two members of The Legion of "Hey, It's That Guy!" Character Actors, Mel Stuart Stewart and Val Bisoglio. It lasted half a season.



ClarkKent_DC said:

Speaking of television obscurities, completeness compels me to mention a forgotten and forgettable series from 1973, Roll Out, created by the same team that cooked up M*A*S*H. It told of the adventures of The Red Ball Express, an Army unit of Black soldiers that delivered supplies by truck to troops stationed in France during World War II.

 

Starring Stu Gilliam and Hilly Hicks as the wisecracking cutups, a pre-St. Elsewhere Ed Begley Jr., and two members of The Legion of "Hey, It's That Guy!" Character Actors, Mel Stuart and Val Bisoglio. It lasted half a season.

Military Sitcoms Part Three

 

 

Unfortunately, I don’t have time to crank out a lengthy post on the military comedy shows I put at the bottom of the pile.  Hogan’s Heroes I will definitely address next time, along with C.P.O. Sharkey, since Mr. Portelli asked about that one specifically. 

 

But I also don’t want to wait too long before returning to the topic, so I will take this time to belt out some comments on what is I think---I didn’t check to verify---the earliest military situation comedy:  The Phil Silvers .Show.

 

Let’s address one thing right out of the gate, to minimise confusion:  The original title of the show was You’ll Never Get Rich, but after it became a runaway hit, the title changed to The Phil Silvers Show.  Most folks know it simply as, and refer to it as---“Sergeant Bilko”.

 

Now, I rarely do this; the anal-retentive part of my nature usually prohibits it, but for purposes of ready understanding, I will refer to the show as Sgt. Bilko.  When it’s in italics, I’m referring to the show; in regular font, I mean the character.  This isn’t just for you guys.  In 1963, Silvers took another shot at a television series, calling it The New Phil Silvers Show.  It was a redeux of his first show, with the same premise, except that instead of an Army non-com in charge of a squad of soldiers, Silvers played a factory foreman in charge of a shift of workers.  Essentially, though, he was Sgt. Bilko in mufti.

 

Most viewers figured “Why watch the new show, when we can watch reruns of the old Phil Silvers Show, which was done better.”  The ratings were embarrassing, so mid-way through the season, the show changed formats.  It didn’t help, and the series expired after one season.  Now, I do know the difference, but whenever I see The Phil Silvers Show, my mind goes to the second one.  So it’s easier for me to call the old show Sgt. Bilko, as well.

 

I didn’t like Sgt. Bilko.  Truth to tell, it wasn’t badly written; it had some funny moments; and after it became a hit, displayed an expensive production standard.

 

I didn’t like it because of Phil Silvers.

 

Now let me be clear.  I never met the man, but from everything I’ve heard about him, off-camera, he was a fairly nice guy.  No saint, of course; none of us is.  But I probably would have enjoyed an evening with him as a guest in my house. 

 

It’s his on-screen persona that I didn’t care for.  I never cared for his fast-talking, overly unctuous, yet implicitly insincere character.  And, as CK and Lee Houston pointed out, once Silvers made his mark with Bilko, he never played anything else, no matter what the rôle.  I never understood, even as a kid, how anyone could fall for such a transparently phoney guy.

 

And, of course, to make it work, Bilko’s marks had to be nimrods, the worst of which being his usual foil, Bilko’s commanding officer, Colonel Hall (played, admittedly to perfection, by Paul Ford).  COL Hall was the first of a long parade of bumbling sitcom C.O.’s, and probably the worst.  He made Captain Binghamton look like Bull Halsey.

 

But, again being candid, setting aside my detest for such a character type, there were some things laudable about the show.  Or things at least the writers were intelligent enough to incorporate.

 

In general, much of the dialogue---usually not Silvers’, but occasionally so---was funny.  The cast was large and to accommodate that, the writers often employed overlapping dialogue and much of the aside stuff was humourous, and more so, because it sounded realistic.

 

The plots were generally too broad to accommodate anything close to the real-life military, but sometimes they hit the mark.  By almost all accounts and sources I’ve checked, the episode rated the funniest was “The Court-Martial”, originally airing on 06 March 1956.  This is the famous episode in which a chimpanzee, as a result of a series of snafus, is inducted into the Army.

 

I viewed “The Court-Martial” again a few years back, and admittedly, not only is it funny, but it pushes but doesn’t break the willing-suspension-of-disbelief barrier.   In setting up the situation, it’s established that, in order to groom himself for promotion, COL Hall has set a goal of inducting the record number of recruits in a two-hour period.  To that end, he has streamlined the induction process and refuses to let anything slow down the flow of recruits.  On that basis, the implausible gaffes which would permit a chimpanzee to pass all the wickets---physical exam, psychological evaluation, and so forth---are rendered plausible.  Barely, but enough.  It also helps that, throughout, Sgt. Bilko, for once, is trying to do the honest thing, by pointing out the error to the various officers throughout the process.  But, being under orders from COL Hall to proceed as fast as possible, they blow Bilko off.

 

The show also makes it plausible that a man like Bilko would rise to the rank of master sergeant in the Army.  If one studies the decorations he wore on his uniform, one sees a Combat Infantry Badge, a Bronze Star, and an Army Commendation Medal, among others.  The CIB is a qualification an infantry man earns for serving in a unit that was actively engaged in combat.  The Bronze Star is the U.S. military’s fourth-highest award for bravery under fire.  And the Army Commendation Medal is awarded for sustained heroic or outstanding performance.

 

Now, the first impulse is to be cynical and assume that Bilko managed to con his way into getting those decorations.  But at various times, the show makes it clear that he most likely earned them legitimately.  One show makes reference to a time during World War II when Bilko braved machine gun fire to obtain water for his parched unit pinned down under attack.  There was another moment when some of his men, having obtained his service jacket, marvel at the fact that it shows, during wartime, Bilko was a brave, responsible leader.

 

So the implication is, when it counts, Bilko could be as capable and brave as any man in combat.  In this respect, he was like the character of Sergeant O’Rourke, from F-Troop---who was also a chiseler and a conniver, but when he or his men were really up against it, his true worth came to the fore.

 

And this leads to the last intelligent handling of Bilko.  In most of the case, Bilko’s scams never paid off for him.  This was usually because of one of two developments.  Sometimes, his scams would backfire and end up costing him as much or more than if he had never run it in the first place.

 

But quite often, they would fail to pay off because Bilko was never quite able to eradicate his deeply buried sense of decency.  At the end, when he could just walk away with his profit, if it resulted in a hard penalty for his mark, or some other innocent, he would turn around and make things right.

 

And there were even occasions when he did something just because it was the decent thing to do.  The episode “The Colonel’s Reunion” (airing 17 February 1958) saw this sort of thing occur.  In a rare display of competence, COL Hall is able to shut down all of Bilko’s gambling operations.  Then Bilko discovers that the colonel has turned down an invitation to attend a reunion of the officers of his old wartime regiment.  Bilko learns the reason that COL Hall is staying away is because Hall is self-conscious of being not as successful as his former peers.

 

To get back at the colonel, Bilko arranges it so that COL Hall has to attend the reunion and he finagles his way into going along, so he can witness the colonel’s embarrassment first hand.

 

At the reunion, Bilko has reason to arrive at the event before COL Hall and, overhearing, he discovers that the colonel is held in disdain by his former comrades, all generals now.  They look upon COL Hall as incompetent and he is, privately, the butt on cruel remarks.  Struck with sympathy for his C.O., Bilko undertakes a charade which redeems Hall in the eyes of the generals and restores the colonel’s respect.

 

This is the moment which redeems Bilko in the eyes of the viewer, as well.  It is similar to the Andy Griffith episode “Andy on Trial, in which Barney Fife delivers a bravura testimony which eradicates the charges against Andy and restores him as sheriff.

 

As most of you know, I love moments like this.  Most of these touches which tempered Sgt. Bilko’s negative traits came from the typewriter of Sgt. Bilko’s producer and lead writer, Nat Hiken, who understood that the character would have to display some redeeming qualities to keep the audience’s sympathy.  Hiken left the show before the start of the final season, and subsequent writers didn’t always keep this mind.  Consequently, there were episodes in which Bilko was a complete horse’s ass from start to finish.  These were not well received.

 

So, on the whole, You’ll Never Get Rich/The Phil Silvers Show/Sgt. Bilko had a thread of quality which kept it from being a terrible effort.

 

I just didn’t like it.

Unfortunately, I don’t have time to crank out a lengthy post on the military comedy shows I put at the bottom of the pile.

 

In that case it's a good thing you stuck to one you could cover in a short post!

I've never seen Sergeant Bilko The Phil Silvers Show, but I enjoyed reading your thoughts on it.

Commander Benson said:

I didn’t like Sgt. Bilko.  Truth to tell, it wasn’t badly written; it had some funny moments; and after it became a hit, displayed an expensive production standard.

 

I didn’t like it because of Phil Silvers.

 

Now let me be clear.  I never met the man, but from everything I’ve heard about him, off-camera, he was a fairly nice guy.  No saint, of course; none of us is.  But I probably would have enjoyed an evening with him as a guest in my house. 

 

It’s his on-screen persona that I didn’t care for. I never cared for his fast-talking, overly unctuous, yet implicitly insincere character. 

 


Now that's funny!

But I know the feeling. I had the same reaction to the Vertigo series Y, The Last Man. I read the entire series via trades borrowed from the library. It had an intiguing premise: Somehow, inexplicably, every male human and animal on Earth suddenly drops dead, save for one Yorick Brown and his pet monkey, Ampersand.

I liked exploring this strange new world, and it had a wealth of interesting situations and story arcs. The book benefited from having the same artist and writer team throughout the run, and nearly every aspect of the book was well done. Most of all, it had vivid, compelling characters, save one: Yorick, who was an annoying, irritating, whiny useless slacker.

Here ends the threadjack, and we return to "Military Sitcoms," already in progress ...
Sgt. Bilko had one advantage/disadvantage from McHale and O'Rourke, both similar wheeler-dealers. He operated in peacetime so his schemes didn't have the same impact as they would have in WWII or the Indian Wars, respectively. But then he didn't have the same chance to prove his worth under fire as they did!

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