The Lieutenant TV Series Overview


Introduction

The Lieutenant is an American television series, the first created by Gene Roddenberry (who also created Star Trek).

It aired on NBC on Saturday evenings in the 1963-1964 television schedule. It was produced by Arena Productions, one of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s most successful in-house production companies of the 1960s.

Situated at Camp Pendleton, the West Coast base of the US Marine Corps, The Lieutenant focuses on the men of the Corps in peacetime with a Cold War backdrop. The title character is Second Lieutenant William Tiberius Rice, a rifle platoon leader and one of the training instructors at Camp Pendleton. An hour-long drama, The Lieutenant explores the lives of enlisted Marines and officers alike.

Outline

Gary Lockwood starred as USMC Second Lieutenant William Tiberius Rice, a recent graduate of the United States Naval Academy who is assigned his first command, that of a rifle platoon.

Rice is a young, educated idealist who still has much to learn from an older mentor. Robert Vaughn played Captain Raymond Rambridge, Rice’s company commander, an up-from-the-ranks officer.

Richard Anderson, remembered for playing Oscar Goldman in The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, had a recurring role as battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Steve Hiland, and Linda Evans, later known for her roles on The Big Valley and as Krystle Carrington in Dynasty, appeared in several early episodes as Colonel Hiland’s daughter Nan, who flirted with Rice.

Cast

  • Regulars:
    • Gary Lockwood – Second Lieutenant William Tiberius Rice.
    • Robert Vaughn – Captain Raymond Rambridge.
    • John Milford – Sergeant Kagey.
    • Henry Beckman – Major Al Barker.
    • Richard Anderson – Lieutenant Colonel Steve Hiland.
    • Don Penny – Lieutenant Harris.
    • Carmen Phillips – Lily.
    • Steve Franken – Lieutenant Samwell ‘Sanpan’ Panosian (Season 1, 1963).
    • Chris Noel – the regular female cast member, who never had a regular “character;” Gene Roddenberry had her acting out different characters each week.
    • Robert Vaughn:
      • Vaughn received the same compensation as Lockwood, even though he was usually in only one scene per episode.
      • Vaughn asked both MGM Television and Norman Felton (under whose Arena Productions banner The Lieutenant was being produced) for his own series during the run of The Lieutenant.
      • The result was The Man from U.N.C.L.E., which began the next season and proved to be highly successful.
  • Guest Stars:
    • Guest stars included Eddie Albert, Jack Albertson, Edward Asner, Barbara Babcock, Barbara Bain, Ina Balin, and Majel Barrett, who later became Roddenberry’s wife.

Controversy

The instalment “To Set It Right”, which was written by Lee Erwin, was about racial prejudice, and featured Nichelle Nichols as the fiancée of a black Marine, portrayed by Don Marshall, with Dennis Hopper as the antagonist to that Marine. It was never transmitted. The subject of race was considered taboo in entertainment television in 1964, and because the network refused to broadcast “To Set It Right” or even pay for it, MGM had to shoulder the entire cost of production. The Paley Centre for Media in New York City possesses a videotape of the episode. This episode was eventually transmitted on the cable channel TNT in the early 1990s.

It was Roddenberry’s frustrations over “To Set It Right” not being broadcast, and the fact that MGM Television had to bear the instalment’s entire financial burden, that inspired and affirmed his decision to turn Star Trek into an allegorical production.

After The Lieutenant

The Lieutenant performed well in the ratings, but was nevertheless cancelled after only one season because, according to Roddenberry, the Vietnam War had made present-day military dramas toxic for television. In the final episode of the series, “To Kill A Man,” Rice is sent to a fictitious Asian country based on Vietnam as an advisor, his assignment as such mirroring the real-life situation for which the series had been cancelled.

Roddenberry recruited Lockwood one more time, in “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” the second pilot instalment for Star Trek, as Lieutenant Commander Gary Mitchell.

The title character in The Lieutenant was Second Lieutenant William Tiberius Rice; on the original series of Star Trek, the title character was James T. Kirk. It was not until the animated series that writer David Gerrold expanded the “T,” giving us Captain James Tiberius Kirk; however, that he chose “Tiberius” was purely coincidental. According to Gerrold, he had been influenced by I, Claudius, and had approached Roddenberry with his choice of middle name, but it was not until 2014 that Gerrold learned of the earlier use.

Several actors who appeared on The Lieutenant – among them Ricardo Montalbán, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, and Majel Barrett – would later join Roddenberry in Star Trek.

Trivia

  • The series was released on DVD in two half-season sets by the Warner Archive Collection on 14 August 2012.
  • The DVD release of The Lieutenant – The Complete Series, Part 2 includes a feature film version of the episode “To Kill a Man” that was released internationally, though not in the United States.

The Lieutenant Series

Production & Filming Details

  • Creator(s): Gene Roddenberry.
  • Director(s):
    • Vincent McEveety … (5 episodes, 1964).
    • Andrew V. McLaglen … (4 episodes, 1963-1964).
    • Don Medford … (3 episodes, 1963).
    • David Alexander … (2 episodes, 1963-1964).
    • Leon Benson … (2 episodes, 1963-1964).
    • Robert Butler … (2 episodes, 1963-1964).
    • Richard Donner … (2 episodes, 1963-1964).
    • John Brahm … (1 episode, 1963).
    • Robert Gist … (1 episode, 1963).
    • Buzz Kulik … (1 episode, 1963).
    • Michael O’Herlihy … (1 episode, 1963).
    • Don Taylor … (1 episode, 1963).
    • Marc Daniels … (1 episode, 1964).
    • James Goldstone … (1 episode, 1964).
    • Leonard J. Horn … (1 episode, 1964).
    • E.W. Swackhamer … (1 episode, 1964).
  • Producer(s):
    • Norman Felton … executive producer (29 episodes, 1963-1964).
    • Gene Roddenberry … producer (29 episodes, 1963-1964).
    • Del Reisman … associate producer (28 episodes, 1963-1964).
  • Writer(s):
    • Gene Roddenberry … (creator) (29 episodes, 1963-1964).
    • Sy Salkowitz … (4 episodes, 1963-1964).
    • Lee Erwin … (3 episodes, 1963-1964).
    • Robert J. Shaw … (3 episodes, 1964).
    • Beirne Lay Jr. … (2 episodes, 1963-1964).
    • Jay Simms … (2 episodes, 1963-1964).
    • George Eckstein … (2 episodes, 1963).
    • Sheldon Stark … (2 episodes, 1963).
    • Herman Groves … (1 episode, 1963).
    • Ellis Marcus … (1 episode, 1963).
    • Archie L. Tegland … (1 episode, 1963).
    • Jerome B. Thomas … (1 episode, 1963).
    • Ed Waters … (1 episode, 1963).
    • Robert Dozier … (1 episode, 1964).
    • Blanche Hanalis … (1 episode, 1964).
    • Margaret Schneider … (1 episode, 1964).
    • Paul Schneider … (1 episode, 1964).
    • Robert E. Thompson … (1 episode, 1964).
    • Art Wallace … (1 episode, 1964).
    • Anthony Wilson … (1 episode, 1964).
  • Music:
    • Jeff Alexander … (26 episodes, 1963-1964).
    • Lyn Murray … (3 episodes, 1963-1964).
    • Arthur Morton … (2 episodes, 1963).
    • Harry Sukman … (1 episode, 1963).
  • Cinematography:
    • Fred J. Koenekamp … (28 episodes, 1963-1964).
    • Lee Garmes … (1 episode, 1963).
  • Editor(s):
    • Henry Berman … (8 episodes, 1963-1964).
    • Edward K. Milkis … (8 episodes, 1963-1964).
    • Sam Gold … (7 episodes, 1963-1964).
    • Fred Maguire … (4 episodes, 1964).
    • John Baxter Rogers … (3 episodes, 1963).
  • Production: Arean Productions and MGM Television.
  • Distributor(s): MGM Television.
  • Original Network: NBC.
  • Release Date: 14 September 1963 to 18 April 1964.
  • Running Time: 60 minutes (per episode).
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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