Series / McHale's Navy

McHale's Navy is an American sitcom first aired on ABC in the 1960s, featuring the exploits of a Patrol Torpedo boat crew during World War II. Ernest Borgnine starred as Lt Commander Quinton McHale.

The series resulted in two movies, McHale's Navy (1964) and McHale's Navy Joins the Air Force (1965), and a Distaff Counterpart spin-off series, Broadside (1964, one season).

A new McHale's Navy movie was released in 1997, starring Tom Arnold as Quinton McHale Jr.

The series provides examples of:

  • Armed Farces
  • Batman Gambit: When one of McHale's crew gets caught trying to use Binghamton's brand new printing press, McHale has the right to see his crewman go through a fair trial as per military regulations. Binghamton admits this is how it must be done, and assigns Ensign Parker as counsel, knowing full well that Parker's stupidity would do nothing to help defend the crewman.
  • Big "WHY?!": A Catch-Phrase for Captain Binghamton on McHale's Navy — "Why me?!? Why is it always, me?!?"
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: For all their wacky hijinks, one of the most common ways for McHale and his crew to get out of trouble is by having some sort of combat success.
  • Catch-Phrase: "Why me?!? Why is it always me?!?" Capt Binghamton bemoaning his fate as Butt-Monkey as his latest scheme to get rid of McHale and his men fails.
  • Disguised in Drag: One episode involves Binghamton tagging along with the crew of the PT 73, and getting Trapped Behind Enemy Lines in a Japanese encampment. In order to disguise themselves long enough to be rescued, they steal outfits from a traveling entertainment troupe. Binghamton has no choice but to dress up and act like a geisha.
  • During the War
  • The Idiot from Osaka: When McHale, Binghamton, and the crew infiltrate a Japanese encampment dressed as a traveling entertainment troupe, one of the Japanese soldiers in the audience comments to another on how poor McHale's accent was as he spoke to them in Japanese. Another soldier comments back that he must be from Osaka.
  • Jungles Sound Like Kookaburras: One episode has McHale and his crew trying to capture a toucan bird who was keeping the whole base awake at night by screaming like a Kookaburra. They never manage to capture or kill it, but they did manage to drive it over from their island to right outside Captain Binghamton's office window.
  • Military Brat: Ensign Parker, a hopeless schlub from an illustrious military family who is nevertheless bound and determinied to somehow carry on his family's tradition of service.
  • Military Maverick: The crew of the PT 73 are often the cause of the problem of the episode, and McHale wont' hesitate to chew them out when they do.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Torpedoman Lester Gruber is usually the cause for all the problems for McHale and the crew of the PT 73, by coming up with well-intentioned schemes to make some money. He'd always be trying to pawn off "authentic wartime memorabilia" like "Authentic Japanese Katanas" (Made in China), or the "actual wing" from a Japanese Zero. He's told time and again that war profiteering will get them all court-martialed, but he and the other crewmen can't help themselves if it'll mean living the easy life and slacking off.
  • Pun-Based Title: The show's short lived Spin-Off Broadside about WACS.
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: Sub-Lieutenant Clivedon
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: A cast consisting of:
    • A brilliant and sharp-witted tactician who rightfully earned his position as Commander
    • A dimwitted ensign originally assigned to make sure the crew follows the rules, and as such always gets caught up with quoting rules and regulations
    • A torpedoman who's always scheming to making a few bucks
    • A bunch of good-natured slackers
    • A Japanese POW who is more than happy to aid his captors and belittle his own native country.
    • A captain who does whatever it takes to get rid of them for not following the rules and regulations, and just taking the war seriously in general.
    • And a Lieutenant who acts as the Captain's right-hand man, and sometimes rival to McHale as the commander of another PT boat.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: McHale's uniform cap badge is smaller than everyone else's by a noticeable amount. This is not an error. In fact, all the other caps, which used 1960s vintage hat badges, are in error. The badge McHale wears in the series is personally owned by Ernest Borgnine, who is a genuine World War II Navy veteran and came from his time in the service.note 
  • Re Tool: In its final season, the series moved from the Pacific theater to Italy.
    • The entire premise of the show itself came from a retool: The pilot episode was called "Seven Against the Sea," an installment of "Alcoa Presents", and was a gritty war drama, featuring McHale as a serious leader trying to keep the men on his PT boat alive after a shattering Japanese attack. One of the producers, however, wanted to do Sgt. Bilko in the Navy. He ordered the shore-side business angle (which included running a laundry and still and McHale's rapport with the native chiefs) ramped Up to Eleven, and the dramatics jettisoned. The rest is history.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Played around with a bit. Admiral Rogers and some of the other among the brass hold McHale in high regard and will take his side, or at least sympathize with him. One episode ended with Admiral Rogers walking in while Binghamton had irrefutable proof that would get McHale court-martialed. Rogers, upon hearing such accusations, just straight up dismisses the issue and chews out Binghamton for trying to get rid of one of his finest commanders. In another episode, Binghamton figures he can get rid of the crew for good, figuring there'd be no way the whole crew could pass a psychological test, and thus be rendered unfit for duty. Sure enough, Ensign Parker fails his test, but the psychologists sympathize with McHale, and find a way to turn the rules against Binghamton. In the end, they conclude that Binghamton has developed a persecution complex for always trying to get rid of McHale.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying!: Most of the episodes feature McHale and co spending their time goofing off, with them occasionally managing to contribute to the war effort by accident.
  • Spiritual Successor: McHale's Navy shares many behind-the-scenes people with The Phil Silvers Show and in many ways is Sergeant Bilko in the Navy.
  • Status Quo Is God: Almost every episode involves Captain Binghamton uncovering something that will get the crew of the PT 73 court-martialed and out of his hair for good, but things always play out so, at the least, his plans usually end up backfiring against him. Many times, McHale gets commended for exemplary performance and brilliant planning by the higher ups.
  • Welcome Episode: The pilot has Capt Binghamton assign Nave Newcomer Ensign Charles Parker the job of making McHale's men behave the military way.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The naval base is located on the island of Taratupa in the South Pacific. Even before the 3rd season started to focus on Italy, It's mentioned that the city of New Caledonia is only a reasonably short travel away from the island. Once the 3rd season did focus on Italy, there was still the glaring issue of all the tropical palm trees scattered around the set of the show itself, since it was filmed in Hawaii.
  • You No Take Candle: Chief Urulu always talked this way.

The contemporary spin-offs provide examples of:

The 1997 movie provides examples of:

  • Bottomless Magazines: There are no shots of the missiles on the back of Vladikov's boat where there aren't two on the launcher, even when he had just fired one seconds before.
  • Buffy Speak:
    Vladikov: What do you think of my stealth boat, David?
    David: Very stealthy, sir.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: McHale has dealt with the villain before, and once punished him by taking him (while unconscious) to get McHale's name and face tattooed across his entire torso. Backwards so it can be read in a mirror.
  • The Film of the Series
  • Generation Xerox
  • Noodle Incident: Binghamton apparently sank the Love Boat, though it wasn't the actual one.
  • Shoot the Messenger

Alternative Title(s): Mc Hales Navy