F Troop TV Series Overview (1965-1967)


Introduction

F Troop (F-Troop, UK) is a satirical American television sitcom Western about US soldiers and Native Americans in the Wild West during the 1860s that originally aired for two seasons on ABC.

Outline

F Troop is set at Fort Courage – a fictional United States Army outpost in the Old West, from near the end of the American Civil War in 1865 to at least 1867. A town of the same name is adjacent to the fort. Fort Courage was named for the fictitious General Sam Courage (portrayed by Cliff Arquette). The fort is constructed in the stockade style typically found in most American Westerns.

The commanding officer is the gallant although laughably clumsy Captain Wilton Parmenter (Ken Berry), who is descended from a long line of distinguished military officers. He is awarded the Medal of Honour after accidentally instigating the final Civil War charge at the Battle of Appomattox Court House. Only a private in the Quartermaster Corps, he is ordered to fetch the commanding officer’s laundry (presumably General Grant’s). As Parmenter rides away to get the laundry, he repeatedly sneezes. A group of Union soldiers mistake his sneezing for an order to charge, turning the tide of the battle and “earning” Parmenter the nickname “The Scourge of Appomattox”. He also is awarded the Purple Heart after he is accidentally pricked in the chest by his father and commanding officer while receiving his first medal, making him known as “the only soldier in history to get a medal for getting a medal.” His superiors reward his action by promoting him to captain, only to give Parmenter command of remote Fort Courage, a dumping ground for the Army’s “least useful” soldiers and misfits; the Secretary of War (William Woodson) notes, “Why, the Army sent them out there hoping they’d all desert.” Indeed, of the three commanding officers at Fort Courage before Captain Parmenter, two did desert, while the third suffered a nervous breakdown.

Much of the humour of the series derives from the scheming of Captain Parmenter’s somewhat crooked but amiable non-commissioned officers, Sergeant Morgan O’Rourke (Forrest Tucker) and Corporal Randolph Agarn (Larry Storch). They, in league with the local (fictitious) American Indian tribe, the Hekawis – led by Chief Wild Eagle (Frank de Kova) – are forever seeking to expand and conceal their shady business deals covertly and collectively referred to as “O’Rourke Enterprises”. Initially, rations and pay were drawn for 30 men at Fort Courage, though only 17 are actually accounted for (the other 13, according to O’Rourke, are Indian scouts who only come to the fort at night and leave before dawn). The pay of the fictitious scouts is apparently used to help finance the dealings of O’Rourke Enterprises. Although O’Rourke and Agarn try to take full advantage of Captain Parmenter’s innocence and naïveté, they are also very fond of and fiercely protective of him, and woe be to anyone attempting to harm him. Parmenter also struggles to exert his authority outside the ranks. Very bashful, he tries to escape the matrimonial plans of his girlfriend, shopkeeper-postmistress Jane Angelica Thrift, known locally as “Wrangler Jane” (played by Melody Patterson, who was awarded the role at the age 16, due to a forged birth certificate) – though he becomes a bit more affectionate toward her during the second season.

The episode “Captain Parmenter, One Man Army” reveals that all of the soldiers (troopers) of “F Troop” have been at Fort Courage for at least 20 months, meaning they spent at least part of the Civil War there. They are so incompetent that when they are formed into a firing squad in the episode titled “The Day They Shot Agarn”, all of their shots miss Agarn despite the fact they are standing only a few yards from him. The most common running gag through both seasons of the series (shown in every first season opening except for the pilot episode) involves the fort’s lookout tower. Every time the cannon is fired in salute, the lit fuse burns out. Corporal Agarn or Private Dobbs then steps up and kicks the cannon’s right wheel, collapsing the cannon and causing it to fire off target. The cannonball strikes a support leg of the lookout tower, bringing it crashing to the ground along with the trooper in it (in the opening credits, this coincides with the line in the lyrics, “Before they resume with a bang and a boom.”) In one episode, an arrow brings the tower crashing down, and in another, Parmenter yanks down the tower with a lasso. In another episode, musical instruments being played loudly cause the tower to collapse. The fort water tower is also a frequent victim of this sort of gag. In one variation of the tower gag, Vanderbilt, Parmenter, O’Rourke, and Agarn are standing in the water tower platform when a lone Indian, “Bald Eagle” (played by Don Rickles), tries to capture Fort Courage by scaling the tower and jumping on the platform; the combined weight causes the floor to collapse and “Bald Eagle” to be captured. In another variation of the cannon gag, the cannon collapses as it is fired, and blows up the fort’s powder magazine, causing Agarn to be saved from a vengeful Chief Geronimo.

Cast

  • Forrest Tucker … Sergeant. Morgan O’Rourke.
  • Larry Storch … Corporal Randolph Agarn.
  • Ken Berry … Captain Wilton Parmenter.
  • Melody Patterson … Wrangler Jane Angelica Thrift.
  • James Hampton … Hannibal Dobbs.
  • Frank DeKova … Chief Wild Eagle.
  • Bob Steele … Trooper Duffy.

Trivia

  • There were 65 episodes in all, 34 in black and white (season 1) and 31 in colour (season 2).
  • The series relied heavily on character-based humour, verbal and visual gags, slapstick, physical comedy, and burlesque comedy.
  • The series played fast and loose with historical events and persons, and often parodied them for comical effect.
  • Some indirect references were made to the culture of the 1960s, such as a “Playbrave Club” (a parody of a Playboy Club) and two rock and roll bands (one which performs songs written in the 1960s).

F Troop Series

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Charles R. Rondeau … (19 episodes, 1965-1966).
    • Seymour Robbie … (12 episodes, 1966-1967).
    • David Alexander … (9 episodes, 1966).
    • Phil Rawlins … (7 episodes, 1966-1967).
    • Hollingsworth Morse … (6 episodes, 1966-1967).
    • Leslie Goodwins … (5 episodes, 1965).
    • Gene Reynolds … (4 episodes, 1966).
    • Gary Nelson … (2 episodes, 1966).
    • Hal March … (1 episode, 1967).
  • Producer(s):
    • Hy Averback … producer / executive producer (64 episodes, 1965-1967).
    • Herman S. Saunders … associate producer / producer (64 episodes, 1965-1967).
    • Phil Rawlins … associate producer (31 episodes, 1966-1967).
    • William T. Orr … executive producer (17 episodes, 1965-1966).
    • Richard M. Bluel … producer (1 episode, 1965).
  • Writer(s):
    • Arthur Julian … (written by) (29 episodes, 1965-1967).
    • Stan Dreben … (written by) (8 episodes, 1965-1966).
    • Howard Merrill … (written by) (8 episodes, 1965-1966).
    • Seaman Jacobs … (written by) (7 episodes, 1965-1966).
    • Ed James … (written by) (7 episodes, 1965-1966).
    • Austin Kalish … (writer) (8 episodes, 1966-1967).
    • Irma Kalish … (writer) (8 episodes, 1966-1967).
    • Richard Baer … (writer) (3 episodes, 1966).
    • James Barnett … (2 episodes, 1965-1966).
    • Irving Elinson … (written by) (2 episodes, 1965-1966).
    • Fred S. Fox … (written by) (2 episodes, 1965-1966).
    • Hal Goldman … (written by) (1 episode, 1965).
    • Al Gordon … (written by) (1 episode, 1965).
    • Stan Burns … (written by) (1 episode, 1966).
    • Mike Marmer … (written by) (1 episode, 1966).
    • Richard M. Bluel … (creator) (1 episode, 1965).
    • Larry Markes … (written by) (1 episode, 1965).
    • Michael Morris … (written by) (1 episode, 1965).
    • Tom Adair … (unknown episodes).
    • James B. Allardice … (unknown episodes).
  • Music:
    • William Lava … (60 episodes, 1965-1967).
    • Frank Comstock … (3 episodes, 1965).
    • Richard LaSalle … (3 episodes, 1966-1967).
  • Cinematography:
    • Robert Hoffman … (34 episodes, 1965-1966).
    • Louis Jennings … (28 episodes, 1966-1967).
    • Nicholas Musuraca … (3 episodes, 1966).
  • Editor(s):
    • David Wages … (22 episodes, 1966-1967).
    • Elbert K. Hollingsworth … (13 episodes, 1966-1967).
    • James T. Heckert … (12 episodes, 1965-1966).
    • Byron Chudnow … (8 episodes, 1965-1966).
    • Milt Kleinberg … (6 episodes, 1965).
    • Stefan Arnsten … (3 episodes, 1966).
    • William Wiard … (1 episode, 1965).
  • Production:
    • Warner Bros. Television.
  • Distributor(s):
    • American Broadcasting Company (ABC) (1965-1967) (USA) (TV).
    • ITV – Independent Television (1968) (UK) (TV).
    • Me-TV (2013-) (USA) (TV).
    • Warner Home Video (2004) (USA) (DVD).
    • Warner Home Video (2005) (USA) (DVD) (compilation).
    • Warner Home Video (2006) (USA) (DVD) (season 1).
    • Warner Home Video (2007) (USA) (DVD) (season 2).
    • Warner Home Video (2007) (USA) (DVD) (seasons 1 & 2).
    • Warner Home Video (2008) (USA) (DVD) (seasons 1 & 2).
  • Release Date:
    • Series 01: 14 September 1965 to 10 May 1966.
    • Series 02: 08 September 1966 to 06 April 1967.
  • Running Time: 25-30 minutes (per episode).
  • Rating: 7+.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Video Link(s)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.