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Series / Black Sheep Squadron

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"In World War II, Marine Corps Major Greg "Pappy" Boyington commanded a squadron of fighter pilots. They were a collection of misfits and screwballs who became the terrors of the South Pacific. They were known as The Black Sheep."
Opening narration

An American television series starring Robert Conrad and following the exploits of the US Marine Corps fighter squadron VMF-214, based on the fictional island of Vella La Cava. The show lasted from September, 1976 to September, 1978, with a total of 37 episodes in two seasons. When not in combat, the members of the squad could often be found getting in trouble in and around base.

The show was originally called Baa Baa Black Sheep. For its second season this was was changed to Black Sheep Squadron in an attempt to boost ratings, as network execs thought it was being mistaken for a kids' show, and that's the title advertised when it's in syndication.

Black Trope Squadron:

  • Ace Custom: Japanese ace Haguro Nishi (a.k.a the Iceman) has a Zero tweaked to fly faster and armored for defense. Not to mention a ridiculous amount of kill flags from at least four different countries.
  • Ace Pilot: All the pilots.
  • A Father to His Men: Pappy Boyington
  • Artistic License – Military: Most of the aerial fight scenes consist of the Corsair pilots dogfighting Japanese Zeros. This wouldn't have happened in Real Life, as the Corsair pilots wouldn't have bothered with trying to dogfight and instead would have used their planes' superior speed and power to set up diving attacks that were very effective against Zeros. Additionally, defensive tactics such as the Thach Weave are never displayed.
  • Benevolent Boss: General Moore.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Movie star Rod Towers telling a reporter "I need to change my drawers."
  • Butt-Monkey: TJ Wiley.
  • The Cameo: The Real Life Greg Boyington was given a cameo in one episode.
  • Captain Obvious: From "The Fastest Gun": "What are you flying?" "AN AIRPLANE, YOU IDIOT!!"
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Boyington and Micklin
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome
    • James "Jim" Gutterman just disappeared between seasons 1 and 2.
    • Bob Anderson as well early in the second season.
  • Cigar Chomper: Micklin, except when he's asleep. And sometimes even when he's asleep: in "The Fastest Gun" he has a cigar in his mouth as he takes a nap on a hammock.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: American-born Japanese pilot Tenyu Araki.
  • Do a Barrel Roll: makes for pretty action shots. Subverted with the landing gear malfunctioning on TJ's plane, a barrel roll or flying upside down was the only way he could get the landing gear to retract.
  • Fanservice: Midway through the second season a medical facility was located on the island and several nurses, billed in the opening credits as "Pappy's Lambs," became a regular part of the stories.
  • Eternal Sexual Freedom: The nurses are implied to enjoy casual sex with the officers. In The '40s , women would be written off as immoral and promiscuous.
  • Expy: Rod Towers of Clark Gable
  • Friendly Enemy: Harachi, to Boyington. The two frequently trade taunts over the radio, but it's always with a friendly jibe.
  • Gentlemen Rankers: Double Subverted. All the soldiers are technically officers, but fly combat missions, and they are definitely not gentlemen...
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: At one point, Pappy and Harachi accidentally shoot each other down over the same island; while waiting for their respective rescues, they manage to get together and swap wine and chocolate.
  • Hollywood Costuming: Many hairstyles and some clothing were firmly of The '70s.
  • Hospital Hottie: The "Lambs", nurses assigned to the airbase hospital.
  • Grease Monkey: Hutch and Micklin, the resident squadron mechanics. When they can't fix the problem, you know it's bad.
  • Improbable Piloting Skills: Boyington, the real-life counterpart of which was a flying ace in his own right, though the series exagerrates his prowess a bit.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Boyington and Harachi's verbal jousting.
  • Japanese Ranguage: Tamachi. Granted, he is a Japanese airman, but still.
    Tamachi: "Your prane no fry!"
  • Manly Tears:
    • Boyington dictating a letter to the family of a fellow pilot
    • Gutterman's Heroic BSoD after being shot down by Harachi
  • Mr. Fanservice: Robert Conrad has a Shirtless Scene in every episode.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Double Subverted by Col. Thomas Lard, who at first appears to be a by-the-book career officer and in the odds with Boyington, but who is secretly supportive to Boyington
  • Outranking Your Job: There's an abundance of captains flying in Imperial Japanese Navy squadrons.
  • Put on a Bus
    • Popular character John "Hutch" Hutchinson was killed off in the episode "Last One for Hutch".
    • Pappy's first love interest, nurse Captain Dottie Dixon, was killed in "Fighting Angels" to make room for the new forbidden fruit, the much younger nurse Lt. Samantha Greene (one of Pappy's Lambs). And to dramatically give Greg back his golden cross.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Hand-picked by Boyington himself. Ironically, because he cared little about what they did off-duty, they had little to rebel against and became a well-oiled bunch.
  • Rank Up: Casey is promoted to captain to replace Gutterman.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying: Very much so. Actually the way the war is shown is like something between a drunken frat boys' club and beach holiday.
  • Sitting Duck: Lampshaded in one episode by the narrator while discussing how a new pilot was both very good and very foolish. While the airfield is being strafed, he jumps into a plane and somehow manages to out-turn a Zero and shoot him down while taking off. That is to say, the Narrator lampshaded the trope, explaining it as why most pilots don't try to take off while actively being strafed, and averted by the pilot, who manages to succeed despite it.
  • Sky Face: In an episode the young mechanic gets killed (during an air raid?) and at the end of the episode we see a still shot of him in the sky.
  • The Squad: The titular squadron, led by "Pappy" Boyington
  • Squad Nickname: VMF-214 "The Black Sheep".
  • Stock Footage: Actual WWII air combat footage, including archived footage of ''German'' warbirds. TPTB figured nobody would notice.
  • Unconventional Food Usage: At least one episode includes a reference to (metaphorically) patching up a fighter plane with chewing gum and wire.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: There was a USMC fighter squadron nicknamed the "Black Sheep" and it was led by Major Greg Boyington, but the true part ends there. The Real Life Boyington, a technical advisor for the show, called it "fiction based on reality", and noted that his show counterpart was the only real life character, with the rest being created for the show.
    • The real-life VMF-214 "Black Sheep" had a fairly good professional reputation in the South Pacific, with no more (or less) Bunny Ears Lawyers than any other Marine fighter squadron. Veterans of VMF-214 were offended by the show’s portrayal of their outfit, and a very apologetic Boyington told them that the producers weren’t interested in historical accuracy and he needed the money.
    • Boyington, however, was a notorious drinker, brawler, and general trouble-maker.
  • Weapons Understudies: Modified T-6 Texan for the A6M Zeros, of which very few surviving examples exist, even fewer of which are airworthy.
    • The Vultee BT-13 Valiant stands in for the Aichi D3A Val.
  • Worthy Opponent: Tomio Harachi to Boyington. The two would frequently trade barbs over the radio, often challenging each other to duels.

Alternative Title(s): Baa Baa Black Sheep