Incredibly dumb series with a stellar cast led by Ernest Borgnine, Tim Conway and Joe Flynn. It’s 1943 in the South Pacific. Former steamship Captain Quinton McHale (Ernest Borgnine) is commissioned into the Navy and given command of PT Boat 73. His nemisis is Captain Wallace B. Binghamton (Joe Flynn), the former editor of a yachting magazine on Long Island Sound. Bumbling Ensign Charles Parker is played by Tim Conway.
Also in the cast, Carl Ballantine as Lester Gruber, Gary Vinson as George Christopher, Billy Sands as Harrison “Tinker” Bell, Bob Carpenter as Binghamton’s aide, Lt.Elroy Carpenter and for the first few seasons, Gavin MacLeod as Joseph “Happy” Haines.
Opening episode: “An Ensign For McHale” – Binghamton keeps assigning Ensigns to McHale but he and his crew manage to chase them all away. The Captain thinks he has a winner in Ensign Charles Parker until he looks at his service record. It’s one disaster after another.
Binghamton says he’ll transfer him to a remote post unless he can straighten McHale and his men out in a week. McHale and his crew have their own way on an island with plenty of booze and women and pay no attention to Navy regulations. One reason they get away with it is because when it comes to combat they’re a crack unit.
Parker tries but fails as McHale and his crew continue to do things their way. That includes having a Japanese deserter, Fuji, as their cook. McHale finds out about the inspection coming up and wants his men to cooperate with Parker. He didn’t know about the transfer threat and respects Parker for not saying anything.
It’s inspection time. Binghamton spots Fuji. He’s dressed as a native and McHale and Parker convince him that he’s a local chief they’re training as a spy. McHale gets away with it all and Parker is welcomed to the crew.
Gary Vinson was Chris Higbee in “The Roaring 20’s” (1960-62) and Sheriff Harold Sikes in “Pistols And Petticoats” (1966-67).
Billy Sands was Private Dino Paparelli in “The Phil Silvers Show” (1955-59) and appeared in numerous other TV shows including “All In The Family” and “Webster.”