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McHales Navy Pilot Episode
by Billy Ingram

Fred Astaire TV show
Film archivist John Weber brings us a rare find - the original 'pilot' for the World War Two sitcom McHale's Navy. Only the original production was - a drama!

Fred Astaire's Premiere Theater (also known as Alcoa Premiere, formerly Alcoa Theater) was a prestigious anthology program hosted by the former MGM musical star, who also appeared in some of the hour-long productions. The series, which ran from 1961-1963, featured musical comedy and dramatic productions starring prominent film stars like Shelly Winters and Charlton Heston. Writers included Ray Bradbury and C. S. Forrester.

Ernest Borgnine as McHaleIn 1961 Premiere Theater presented "Seven Against The Sea", a superb World War Two drama about a resourceful group of stranded American PT boat crewmen hiding out on a South Pacific island controlled by the Japanese Navy.

When an American lieutenant parachutes onto the island, the group's commander, Skipper McHale (Ernest Borgnine) is forced to make a choice - risk certain death to attack the Japanese and save American lives or continue life on the island where they've carved out a slice of paradise.

Ernest BorgnineThe island natives provide some comedy relief, but for the most part the story is played straight - you wouldn't expect the McHale of the sixties' sitcom to choke a guy like he does here!

Ernest Borgnine as McHale photoIn many ways "Seven Against The Sea" is familiar to the sitcom it inspired. The lieutenant discovers McHale and his men living in relative luxury, with subservient native girls, pearl diving - they even run a moonshine still with a thriving business selling homemade liquor to the natives.

Ernest BorgnineInstead of playing all of this strictly for laughs, these circumstances provide the moral conflict at the center of the drama. McHale is forced to reconcile his love of country and sense of duty with the overwhelming grief of seeing so many of his men killed in the conflict that left them stranded.

Despite the budgetary restraints inherent in early TV, this production did an excellent job of building to a rousing action climax on the sea - helped immeasurably by the exceptional talents of Ernest Borgnine and a strong musical score by John Williams ('Star Wars').

"Seven Against The Sea" must have struck a chord, because a year later McHale's Navy debuted as a half-hour comedy on ABC. Borgnine again starred as Lt. Comdr. Quinton McHale, this time with comics Joe Flynn and Tim Conway costarring. Two popular McHale's Navy motion pictures were released in 1964 & 1965.

The sitcom lasted four years in prime-time and proved popular in syndication for the next decade. McHale's Navy was running on the TV Land network until recently. A major motion picture starring Tom Arnold (with Borgnine in a supporting role) was released in 1999 and widely panned.

Borgnine returned to television series work in 1984's AirWolf and in the 1995 sitcom The Single Guy.
McHale's Navy on DVDMcHale’s Navy: Season One
The Complete First Season Embarks On DVD
March 20th
Five-DVD Set Boasts an All-Star Reunion of the Highly-Decorated Crew:
Oscar®-Winner Ernest Borgnine and Emmy-Winner® Tim Conway
Relive the Classic Show’s Most Hilarious Moments with Original Cast Members

LOS ANGELES, CA – The six-time Emmy-nominated* McHales Navy launches on DVD for the very first time as Shout! Factory releases the classic sitcom from television’s golden age as a five-disc, restored and re-mastered collector’s set on March 20, 2007. To create a sea-worthy box set of the beloved series, DVD producers reunited the unsinkable crew of the P.T. 73, including Oscar-winner Ernest Borgnine** (Marty, The Dirty Dozen) and four-time Emmy-winner Tim Conway*** (“The Carol Burnett Show”), along with fellow crew members Carl Ballantine, Edson Stroll and Bob Hastings, for a first-ever cast reunion in December 2006 with footage from the event included as an exclusive DVD featurette.

Originally aired in 1962 on the ABC network and part of the Universal Television catalog, the outstanding first season of McHale’s Navy boasted writing from the likes of Joseph Heller (Catch 22) and garnered three Emmy nominations, including “Best Comedy” and acting nods for the leads, Borgnine and Conway. Now the original 36 episodes of this award-nominated maiden voyage can be relived on DVD for the suggested list price of $44.98.

By arrangement with the U.S. Navy’s international distributor, EURPAC, Shout! Factory has also created a specially-packaged edition of McHale’s Navy exclusively for Naval bases worldwide. From 1962 to 1966, McHale’s Navy was ABC’s must-see comedy series with an amazing cast including Academy Award® winner Ernest Borgnine (Lt. Cmndr McHale), comic genius Tim Conway (Ensign Parker), and the one-of-a-kind comic talent of Joe Flynn (Captain Binghamton). Veteran seaman Quinton McHale is commissioned into the Navy Reserve at the start of WWII. He becomes Skipper of the Torpedo Patrol (PT) Boat #73 stationed on the island of Taratupa in the Pacific. With a lovable crew of six good-hearted swabbies, McHale and his men are constant irritants to their base commander, Captain Wallace B. Binghamton. Binghamton is forever trying to find a way to get rid of McHale and his rule-bending crew and McHale & Co. are forever scheming to keep him from succeeding. Despite their hilarious party-boy shenanigans and utter disregard for Navy regulations, when duty calls the crew of PT 73 does its job…and does it well. With its talented stars, great writing and a solid supporting cast, including Gavin McLeod of “Love Boat” fame, McHale’s Navy is classic television at its finest – and funniest.

Guest stars include Oscar winner George Kennedy (Cool Hand Luke), Ted Knight (“Mary Tyler Moore”), Bob Hastings (“All In The Family,” “Ironside”) and Oscar-nominated Asian-American actor Mako (The Sand Pebbles, Pearl Harbor).

An Ensign For McHale - 10/11/1962
Ensign Charles Parker (Tim Conway) – new Executive Officer of the PT 73 crew – is Binghamton's last hope to tame McHale and his “pirates.” Though unwelcome at first, McHale sees potential in the young officer, and orders his crew to shape up so that Parker won't be shipped out.
A Purple Heart For Gruber - 10/18/1962
During an attack by the Japanese while doing the Captain’s laundry, Gruber scratches a finger and puts in for a Purple Heart.
McHale And His Seven Cupids - 10/25/1962
McHale tries his hand at matchmaking, using Ensign Parker and Nurse Brown as guinea pigs.
PT 73, Where Are You? - 11/1/1962
Virgil (Edson Stoll) loses the 73, and McHale and the crew must arrange for a replacement boat before they can take some promised R&R in New Caledonia. This episode was written by Joseph Heller (Catch 22) under the name Joe Heller.
Movies Are Your Best Diversion - 11/8/1962
When McHale and his men are assigned the duty of averting a Japanese attack on a U.S. convoy, they use the soundtracks of movies.
Operation Wedding Party - 11/15/1962
McHale tries to arrange a wedding for Christy (Gary Vinson) and Lt. Winters (Cindy Robbins) while keeping Binghamton in the dark and facing a battle with the Japanese.

Who Do The Voodoo? - 11/22/1962
Urulu (Jacques Aubuchon) puts a curse on Binghamton when Binghamton refuses to arrange for monetary compensation for damages inflicted on Urulu's island by the Navy's cannon boats.

Special Feature: The Crew Remembers
Shout! Factory hosts a very special 45th anniversary reunion of the crew, including stars Ernest Borgnine, Tim Conway, Carl Ballantine, Edson Stroll and Bob Hastings.

Three Girls On An Island - 11/29/1962
The singing Tyler Sisters are stranded on a deserted island. McHale and the crew have an ulterior motive when they volunteer for the rescue mission. But the girls, having had such experiences in the past, are wise to their plan.
McHale's Paradise Motel - 12/6/1962
While out on a recon mission McHale and the 73 crew discover a deserted plantation which they turn into a party house. Their activities draw the attention of both the U.S. Navy and the Japanese.
The Battle Of McHale's Island - 12/20/1962
McHale and the crew must practice some trickery to keep Binghamton from building his new Officer's Club on McHale's island.
The Day They Captured Santa Claus - 12/27/1962
McHale and his crew run into a Japanese ambush Christmas Day while playing Santa Claus to a group of native children
Beauty And The Beast - 1/3/1963
When a photographer with an attitude is assigned to the 73 crew, McHale and the boys must work up a plan to get rid of her.
The Captain's Mission - 1/10/1963
Ashamed of his desk job, Binghamton assumes command of the 73 during McHale's absence and takes it out on a combat mission so that he can have a war story to share with his battle-hardened fellow officers.
Send Us A Hero - 1/17/1963
Ensign Parker and the crew scheme to get McHale selected for a stateside War Bond tour. When they discover that they won't be included they must cook up another plan to get McHale off the hook.
The Captain Steals A Cook - 1/24/1963
Gruber has been selling Fuji's Polynesian dishes to the Taratupa personnel, and trouble develops when Binghamton - having sampled the delicious food - insists that it be served at a dinner for a visiting Admiral.

The Ensign Gets A Zero - 1/31/1963
Under the impression that Parker is an ace gunner, Binghamton wagers one of his most prized possessions that Parker can out-shoot an arrogant captain's best gunner.
The Big Raffle - 2/7/1963
A lovely French girl agrees to help the guys out in a plan to raise expense money for the birth of Christy's (Gary Vinson) child.
One Of Our Engines Is Missing - 2/14/1963
McHale and the boys must scheme to procure new engines for their beloved boat before Binghamton ships the 73 crew out to a new location.
The Natives Get Restless - 2/21/1963
Binghamton angers some of the native islanders, and then must make amends with them in order to make a good impression on a certain V.I.P. who is arriving for a visit.
The Confidence Game - 2/28/1963
Ensign Parker thinks the crew has no respect for him before he's given an opportunity to demonstrate his prowess as a leader.

Six Pounds From Paradise - 3/7/1963
Capt. Binghamton plots to fatten up McHale and get the overweight commander shipped out of his command.

Washing Machine Charlie - 3/14/1963
Capt. Binghamton cancels the leave planned by McHale and his crew, refusing to let them go until they get rid of the Japanese plane harassing the base.

Nippon Nancy Calling - 3/21/1963
Binghamton assigns Parker to spy on McHale after “Nippon Nancy” broadcasts confidential information about him.
One Enchanted Weekend - 3/28/1963
Capt. Binghamton denies Parker's request to spend leave with Emile Gerard and his pretty daughter, Yvette, on their plantation.

The Mothers Of PT 73 - 4/4/1963
McHale's PT-73 crew plans a festival for the fleet, and the date accidentally falls on Mother's Day.
H.M.S. 73 - 4/11/1963
Capt. Binghamton plans to get rid of McHale permanently by stationing him as liaison officer to the British Navy in Sydney, Australia.
A Wreath For McHale - 4/18/1963
Capt. Binghamton conducts memorial services for McHale and the crew of PT-73, presumed killed in action at the island of Kalakai.

Portrait Of A Peerless Leader - 4/25/1963
Capt. Binghamton sees a chance to get McHale out of his command by having him transferred to teach at a PT-boat school.

Instant Democracy - 5/2/1963
Binghamton’s arrest and hoped-for court martial of McHale is undone when he needs McHale’s aid in soliciting Chief Urulu's tribe to help enlarge the Taratupa airstrip.
Camera, Action, Panic - 5/9/1963
A combat photographer comes to Taratupa to film a P.T. crew in action. But trouble erupts, when Gruber swipes the photographer's movie camera for a little private enterprise.

Alias Captain Binghamton - 5/16/1963
When a Binghamton look-alike (Joe Flynn in a dual role) is assigned to McHale's crew, McHale's men are convinced he is a spy for the captain and plot to get rid of him.

Parents Anonymous - 5/23/1963
McHale and his crew decide to adopt little Kim Su after a departing hospital ship strands her on the island. They try to make a happy home for her while keeping her a secret from Binghamton.

McHale's Millions - 5/30/1963
McHale and his PT-73 crew find $4 million in cash amidst the wreckage of Japanese transport plane. Presuming it is counterfeit, Gruber trades it for island trinkets. But when the crew finds out the money is real, they plot to get it back.

The Hillbillies Of PT 73 - 6/6/1963
Captain Binghamton, on an inspection tour of McHale's Island with visiting Congressman Joyner, takes a dim view of the proceedings until he learns that the atmosphere reminds the Congressman of home.

The Monster Of McHale's Island - 6/13/1963
A Navy transport plane carrying Bruce Hanson, the 10-year old son of an admiral, makes an emergency landing at Taratupa. McHale takes matters into his own hands when the spoiled brat makes trouble for the crew.
Uncle Admiral - 6/27/1963
When Capt. Binghamton learns that Ensign Parker is related to Vice Admiral Parker (Harry Von Zell), he has the young officer reassigned as his aide.

TVparty / classic TVMcHale's Navy
McHale's Navy Pilot Show

McHale's Navy on DVD

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Title design: Saul Bass

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