Tuesday , April 23 2024
A lighthearted sitcom patterned after the successful formula of The Phil Silvers Show.

DVD Review: F Troop – The Complete First Season

F Troop is one of the many sitcoms that patterned itself after the successful formula of The Phil Silvers Show, a con man in the military who tries to keep his schemes one step ahead of his befuddled superior, never getting caught, but never making a big score either. F Troop finds the story transported to Fort Courage, a frontier post, during the last months of the Civil War. The character of Sgt. Bilko is now Sgt. O’Rourke of O’Rourke Enterprises, a catch-all for his various activities from selling the wares of local Indians, the Hekawis, to tourists, drawing rations for soldiers that don’t exist, and surreptitiously running his saloon.

The show, which aired two seasons, 1965 shot in black and white and 1966 shot in color, was very similar to situation comedies of the time. The humor was straightforward and silly, although there is too much use of the laugh track. The plots were simple and even familiar for frequent television watchers, such as Corporal Agarn mistaking a veterinary medical report for his own, and Agarn going after his "look-alike" cousin El Diablo, an infamous bandit.

A viewer can jump in at any time and not feel lost because the characters never developed beyond an episode, picking up in the same place each week. The shows were self-contained stories aside from the running gags like the watchtower constantly being shot down by the cannon and the frequent exchange between O’Rourke and Agarn when the latter comes up with a great idea:

O'Rourke: Agarn, I don't know why everybody says you're so dumb!
Agarn: Who says I'm dumb?

And lastly, the series’ memorable theme song explains the setting.

The cast created characters that were enjoyable to spend time with. Forrest Tucker as O'Rourke and Larry Storch as his sidekick Agarn worked well together as a comedy duo, teaming up again on the Saturday morning show The Ghost Busters (1975-76). Ken Berry had the most difficult task making the bumbling Capt. Wilton Parmenter believable without going over the top. This season had guest stars Zsa Zsa Gabor as, to no one’s surprise, a gypsy in "Play, Gypsy, Play," and Don Rickles as Chief Wild Eagle's son in "The Return of Bald Eagle."

Some people might squawk about the treatment of the Indian characters. For example, they are peaceful capitalists, so Agarn has to show them a war dance for a mock attack on the fort, which might be insulting, but I found it funny under the circumstances. They are equal business partners with O’Rourke so they are smart and savvy. Of course, it would have been ideal to use actual Indian actors, however, Frank DeKova as Chief Wild Eagle and Don Diamond as Crazy Cat don’t dehumanize the characters.

While it will never be mistaken for an all-time classic that changed the face of television, F Troop is a lighthearted sitcom that wants to provide a laugh and a smile for 30 minutes. The humor isn’t mean-spirited or crude. A single disc is available for those not willing to make the commitment to all 34 episodes of Season One. There are no extras.

About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Founder and Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/GordonMiller_CS

Check Also

GalaxyCon Richmond: ‘Blue’s Clues’ Cast on the Magical Blue Puppy Then and Now

"In real life, I don't have a magical blue puppy as much as I wish I did."