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Series / Roll Out!

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Those Two Guys of Roll Out!

Roll Out! was a military sitcom that aired on CBS in 1973, and focused on a supply unit in France during World War 2, and had a mostly African-American staff; the main driving forces (No Pun Intended) of the show were Corporal Carter "Sweet" Williams - a schemer and a dreamer who always wants to come out on top, and P.F.C. Jed Brooks - who is more or less the voice of reason of the two. Other characters include High Strung and Wheels Dawson, who serve as Sitcom Arch-Nemesis to Sweet and Jed; Sergeant B.J. Bryant, the ranking non-commissioner officer over the rest of the drivers; and Captain Rocco Calvelli, the commanding officer of the entire unit.

The show was actually created by Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds, the creators/producers behind M*A*S*H; CBS saw what a success M*A*S*H had become, and turned to Gelbart and Reynolds to create another military sitcom for them, in hopes on further cashing in on the success and popularity of the former series. Whereas M*A*S*H drew parallels from The Vietnam War for its anti-war satire of the Korean War, Roll Out! drew on race relations for its humor. Roll Out!, however, did poorly in the ratings, and lasted only one season.

This series provides examples of

  • Based on a True Story: as The Other Wiki describes it:
    The Red Ball Express was a famed truck convoy system that supplied Allied forces moving quickly through Europe after breaking out from the D-Day beaches in Normandy in 1944. In order to expedite cargo to the front, trucks emblazoned with red balls followed a similarly marked route that had been closed to civilian traffic....The system originated in an urgent 36-hour meeting and began operating on August 25, 1944, staffed primarily with African-American soldiers.
  • The Bet: Sweet pulls this quite frequently throughout the series, such as the time a contest is held where the team with the best-maintained and driven truck wins a free trip to Paris; a bet arises between Sweet and Wheels to see which of them will win said trip to Paris.
  • Christmas Episode: "Christmas of 44," in which the unit is depressed over spending their Christmas in the middle of a war, until a group of orphans brighten their day.
  • invokedDude, Not Funny!: In one episode, Calvelli asks Chapman if he knows anything about Leonardo da Vinci, to which Chapman responds, "I know he was a homosexual, sir." Calvelli is not amused.
  • During the War: France in WW2.
  • Hilarity Ensues: Usually whenever Sweet is up to something that he's trying to get to work in his favor.
  • Jive Turkey: Not surprisingly, many of the characters on this show speak this way, though perhaps Sweet, Wheels, and High Strung moreso than others.
  • Large Ham: Sweet (hey, it's Stu Gillman), Wheels, High Strung, and Jersey.
  • Laugh Track
  • MacGuffin: In a number of episodes, a free trip to Paris is this for Sweet.
  • Nicknaming the Enemy: Though Wheels isn't technically an enemy in the sense that he's on the other side of the war, he's Sweet's nemesis, and Sweet always calls him "Ugly".
  • Only Sane Man: Out of the drivers themselves, Jed is the only one who actually tries to be a decent guy, on the grounds that people should help each other during a war.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: All of the ranking officers (Bryant, Calvelli, and Chapman) fall into this category.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Sweet is red (arrogant, abbrasive, competitive, always wants to come out on top), while Jed is blue (a little naive, thoughtful, considerate, wants to be of help to anyone who needs it).
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Wheels and High Strung are these to Sweet and Jed (mostly Sweet), though they feel it's the other way around.
  • Short-Runner: One season, 12 episodes.
  • Spiritual Successor: Despite being made in the shadows of M*A*S*H, this show was also something of a series adaptation of the movie Red Ball Express.
  • Title Drop: And it's a Once an Episode thing, as the order that Bryant shouts out to the drivers when it's time for a run: ROLL OUT!
  • Those Two Guys: Applies to both Sweet and Jed, as well as Wheels and High Strung.
  • Verbal Tic: Jersey Hampton, who pretty much always speaks in imitations of famous movie stars including James Cagney and John Wayne; in fact, a whole episode can go by without the audience even really knowing how Jersey really speaks.