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Series / Combat!

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Left to right: Vic Morrow as Sergeant Chip Saunders and Rick Jason as Second Lieutenant Gil Hanley.

Combat! was a TV series that ran on ABC from 1962 until 1967 about "King Company" during the invasion of France in World War II, starting from D-Day and never farther than that throughout its five-season run. It predominantly featured Sergeant Chip Saunders (Vic Morrow), though his entire squad was just as fleshed out. Robert Altman was a major creative force on the series, directing every second episode of the first season.



  • Absentee Actor: Neither Vic Morrow nor Rick Jason appeared in the episode "The Chateau". This was actually intentional, as the writers and producers were experimenting to see if the secondary cast could carry the show without the leads.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Quite a few of the Germans, noticeably Colonel Hoffen in "Gadjo."
  • Big Eater: Braddock, especially in the pilot.
  • Bottomless Magazines: The squad members were seldom seen re-loading their M-1s, BAR, and Thompson submachine gun.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Almost all of the characters got to have an episode for themselves.
  • Comicbook Time: The first season follows a roughly consistent Story Arc from D-Day (June '44) to the imminent liberation of Paris (August '44). The next four all happen around and after that time... but the squad never leaves France.
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  • Doomed Hurt Guy: Several times the squad will try and rescue a badly wounded G.I., a member of La Résistance, or, sometimes, even a Nazi, only to have the individual end up dying despite all their efforts. It was used to great effect to show the futility of war.
  • Excited Show Title!
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Braddock is on the receiving end in "The Prisoner", when he corrected about pronouncing cognac the way it's spelled, rather than "Con-yak".
  • Last-Name Basis: Justified. Everyone is in the Army.
  • Licensed Game: A Japan-only Super NES Turn-Based Strategy game based on the series was released in 1995.
  • Mauve Shirt: Early on, Pirosh and Altman made an effort to contract actors for a couple of episodes, so you'd just get to know them before they're killed.
  • New Meat: The squad seems to have a completely random new soldier every week, and half of the time, they end up dying.
  • One Steve Limit: King Company had two different medical soldiers nicknamed Doc, one played by Steven Rogers in Season One, and the other played by Conlan Carter for the remainder of the series.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Gavin MacLeod's British in "The Masquers".
  • Put on a Bus: Private Braddock, as Shecky Greene walked off the show after nine episodes, because the physical demands of the series were taking a toll on him, and he wished to return to his nightclub acts in Las Vegas.
    • The first Doc after Season One as well.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: Leonard Rosenman wrote a music library that provided backing throughout the run of the series, although he did do an original score for the pilot (and some other episodes).
  • Sergeant Rock: Sergeant Chip Saunders.
  • Spin-Off: Garrison's Gorillas, made as an episode of this show, but eventually shown as a true Pilot Episode (turning it into a Spin Off Sendoff instead.)
  • Stock Footage: Artillery barrages, massive numbers of tanks, and bombers are mixed with reaction shots of the cast members.
  • Translation Convention: Completely subverted, which helped greatly with the show's authenticity and realism: the Germans spoke German, the French spoke French, and all without subtitles; any translation that may had gone on was if the squad happened to have a linguist who could hear the enemy's secrets, and relay the information back to the others.