It's no wonder that "the Jerry's" lost the War!,
This review is from: Rat Patrol: Complete First Season [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
They couldn't shoot the side of a barn!
According to the premise of this 60's show, a crack quartet of soldiers (three Yanks and on Brit) were able to surprise, outthink, out drive, and genuinely create havoc for most of Rommel's minions in North Africa during WWII.
Of course, it aired during the late 60's, a time when there was innocence in programming and storytelling; thus, for all the onscreen mayhem, there was little or no blood shown and very little overt sex. Also, unlike the more adult-oriented "Twelve O'clock High" and "Combat," two other similarly themed shows of the day, "The Rat Patrol" had only thirty minutes to tell its stories. Thus, the stories were tightly-woven and did as much as they could within the time constraints.
We learn very little about the main characters and they are stereotypical but entertaining. Christopher George is the team leader, a take-no-prisoners-all-about-the-book guy that would make "the Duke" proud. Gary Raymond is the British team member, an intellectual that could also handle a machine gun with relish. Lawrence Casey is the resident hunk, frequently appearing shirtless to the chagrin of the female audience. Justin Tarr makes up the fourth member, a guy that was the mechanical wizard of the group. Hans Gudegast, later to become Eric Braedon (Victor Newman on "The Young and the Restless"), is the German commander that oftens bumps heads with the quartet as he tries to control the area and deal with the patrol, as well as Arabs, foes and allies alike.
The guest star roster includes those ubiquitous actors that populated many of the decade's television shows (John Anderson, Gavin Macleod, John Doucette, Frank Silvera, Milton Seltzer, Claudine Longet, Martin Milner, Vincent Gardenia, Richard Mulligan, and Ed Asner, to cite a few).
And the music by Dominic Frontiere, much of it recycled from his earlier work on "The Outer Limits" is action-packed and mysterious, befitting the desert setting.
Two of the highlight episodes are the three-part "The Last Harbor Raid" and "The Gun Runner Raid." The former has a real theatrical feel about it as inventive camerawork makes the viewer imagine thousands (albeit a couple of hundred) of escaping soldiers trudging through the waters toward rescuing ships. Also, the episode allows for more in-depth character development; the previously mentioned Claudine Longet plays a French singer that catches the eye and heart of Casey's character.
"The Gun Runner Raid" features TV stalwart Steve Franken as a much-decorated war vet that has decided that money is greater than patriotism as he trades arms with the Germans. His explanations for his actions would tempt lesser men and, fortunately "The Rat Patrol" is made up of sterner stock and doesn't fall victim to his machinations.
As a whole the show is pure escapism and a pretty good way to "play war" without all the blood and guts.
And the color is vivid and exciting.
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