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Series / McHale's Navy

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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: It's about a wartime Navy crew that would really prefer to party and smuggle things.
  • 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 Catchphrase 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.
  • Catchphrase: "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.
    • Multiple episodes features Tinker dressing as a nurse or island native girl to serve as a distraction.
  • Genre Savvy: McHale often figures out when Binghamton or one-time antagonists might be up to something and what it is.
  • Hollywood Natives: Urulu and his people are often friendly and helpful, but also have genuine grievances. Truth in Television in episode 7 when Urulu demands compensation for the destruction of his island's coconut trees. This happened on several islands during the war in the Pacific. The Americans tried to replant the trees, without much success.
  • Embarrassing Cover-Up: In one episode, Binghamton contacts Admiral Rogers about replacing McHale, only to discover that the man he was going to replace McHale with is a lying crook who just conned him out of Naval supplies. When Admiral Rogers arrives he's ranting about the previous places the conmen had struck and how he's demoted the commanding officers the guy bamboozled. As Binghamton gapes in terror, Rogers asks who he wanted to replace McHale with and Binghamton quickly names his assistant Carpenter, who is completely unqualified for the job, something that Rogers is aware of, causing him to berate Binghmaton for wasting his time with such a stupid idea.
  • 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.
  • Not So Above It All: While normally a Sycophantic Servant, in one episode, Carpenter, possibly drunkenly, does tell a new man about Binghamton's Embarrassing Nickname Old Leadbottom, which, given the nature of the series turns out to be a case of Right Behind Me, that gets Carpenter in hot water.
  • Oh, Crap!: Binghamton gets about one every episode. McHale too, although unlike Binghamton he usually manages to land on his feet.
  • Retool: In its final season, the series moved from the Pacific theater to Italy.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: 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.
  • Smug Snake: Binghamton. Even Carpenter is more competent and lucky than he is.
  • 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 Naïve 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.

The 1997 movie provides examples of:

  • Parental Substitute: McHale for Roberto; this is because of his father being killed in Panama by Vladakov.
  • Running Gag: Vladakov being the world's "number 2 terrorist", much to his irritation — he wants to be the world's number 1 terrorist (though as his employers point out, there's always people jockeying for that title).
  • Shoot the Messenger: Vladakov is quite fond of doing this, to the point his psychiatrist (quite smartly) has been wearing a concealed Bulletproof Vest all of the years he's been forced to attend him.
  • Snooping Little Kid: Roberto takes pics of the governor's meeting with Vladakov and his employers at the beginning; Mc Hale admonishes him for it (apparently it's not the first time).
  • Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell: The reason why the Russian, Chinese and European guys are hiring Vladakov to steal missile launch codes is this; Vladakov says it's so "they can drive Cadillacs again."

Alternative Title(s): Mc Hales Navy


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