McHale's Navy

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McHale's Navy

Running for four seasons from 1962 to 1966 on ABC, McHale's Navy remains one of the longest running military comedies on television. Set for the first three seasons on an island base in the South Pacific, and for the last in Italy, it was a classic wartime farce that pitted a fun-loving crew of misfits against an incompetent commander who wants to see them put behind bars. The plots were standard fare, often involving the crew of the PT73 trying to get away with something and being saved, just when trouble looms, by an opportunity to sink an enemy sub and emerge as heroes. The three central characters were Commander McHale and Ensign Parker, who were continually engaged in fending off Captain Binghampton, or "Old Leadbottom." They were played by Ernest Borgnine, Tim Conway (at his bumbling best) and Joe Flynn, respectively.

The show spawned two movies during its run—McHale's Navy (1964) and McHale's Navy Joins the Air Force (1965)—the first with the original cast and the second with Conway and Flynn. The characters were resurrected for a 1997 feature film of the same title, with Tom Arnold playing McHale.

—Frank Clark

Further Reading:

Castleman, Harry, and Walter J. Podrazik. Harry and Wally's Favorite Shows: A Fact-Filled Opinionated Guide to the Best and Worst on TV. New York, Prentice Hall, 1989.

McNeal, Alex. Total Television: A Comprehensive Guide to Programming from 1948 to the Present. New York, Penguin Books, 1991.