Thursday, February 23, 2017

A quick Look at TV: F-TROOP

   I only recently discovered the teleseries F-Troop, but I'm so glad I did! Ken Berry is the accident-prone, but by-the-book, unlikely war hero to emerge from the last days of the Civil War. Youngest of a family of illustrious military heroes, Wilton Parmenter is given the rank of Captain and sent to man the frontier fort, Fort Courage. Once there, Parmenter tries to run things as military as possible, unaware that he's constantly being taken advantage of by his chief officer Sgt. O'Rourke -as played by Forrest Tucker. O'Rourke's sidekick and partner-in-business is the slow-witted Corp. Agarn, as played by Larry Stroch, who really steals the show. O'Rourke and Agarn have a thriving business arrangement with the near-by Heckawi Indians, who among other things supply whiskey for O'Rourke's saloon! Former cowboy star Bob Steele plays old timer Trooper Duffy. Frank DeKova is Heckawi chief Screaming Eagle, the chicken of the redskins ("Heckawi lovers, not fighters!"). And of course, every red-blooded male will take notice of Melody Patterson's feisty trader "Wrangler" Jane, who's sweet on Parmenter and will do or die to be his bride. The show was absolutely crazy. 1965 was superimposed over 1865 and from that came much of the humor. The writing was constantly strong, with hysterical scripts packed with fun characters. Of course, a show like this works mainly due to casting, and F-Troop boasts the near perfect cast. Larry Storch combines the physical comedy of a silent movie star with the elastic facial expressions of a living cartoon, his character given some of the best lines on any sitcom. Tucker was an actual Cavalry officer, and so brings an authenticity to Sgt. O'Rourke one seldom sees even on dramatic shows. Miss Paterson was only 16 when she began the series, and overnight became a G.I. dreamgirl. In the second season, the show went full color, one of the very last shows to do so after starting in black and white. Unfortunately, the second season was to be the last, and a great show left the air.

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