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Action / Drama / War Television Shows

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  • William David Elliott (1934 - 1983)
    William Elliott (II) (1934–1983), Actor Father of David Elliott and Damon Elliott. Born: William David Elliott, June 4, 1934 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA . Died: September 30, 1983 (age 4...
  • Ernest Borgnine (1917 - 2012)
    Ernest Borgnine (born Ermes Effron Borgnino ; January 24, 1917) is an American actor of television and film. His career has spanned more than six decades. He was an unconventional lead in many films ...

Televisions shows that depicted Action / Drama / War that ran approximately from 1940 to the present.


List and the seasons the show ran

  • Hogan's Heroes, Ah life in a POW camp. This comedy had a mixed group of the various allied nations solders all in the same camp (each with their own skill) with officers and enlisted (never done) as a spy / sabotage team in Stalag 13 (aviators were always in Stalag Lufts, infantry were in Stalags). Caricatures of the various NAZI and allied soldier types. Actually pretty funny show. Sgt. Shultz, Major Hoffsetter (sp?) Colonel Hogan and along with Colonel Klink were the main characters that carried the show.
  • The Rat Patrol, Inspired by the exploits of the British LRDG — Long Range Desert Group — two jeeps with .50 cals run around the desert destroying German convoys, depots, and other missions defeating the Afrika Korps in every battle in Libya. The German Kommander never seems to get a jeep in his sights even at 50' with a tank.
  • Sharpe, the Television Action-Drama Films.
  • Over There. 2005. First TV show that I know of that is being filmed / broadcast while combat is still going on. Depicts US troops fighting in Iraq after traditional combat was completed.
  • Black Adder. The very last set of episodes takes place in the British trenches of WW-I. Comedy and gallows humor in this whole series. The very last episode of the Black Adder series is very powerful.
  • Piece Of Cake. RAF Spitfire pilots from Sept of 1939 through August of 1940. Some of the best flying scenes ever filmed. Also gives a good perspective of both British pilots and command philosophies during this time frame. A glaring invalid fact is that Spitfires were never sent to France in 1939 / 1940 - only Hurricanes. And they lost over 300 of them from 1939 thru June of 1940. Spitfires still get all the glory.
  • [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combat! Combat!] 1962-1967 Various stories. Some are quite good. Don't take the tactics they use in the show too seriously. Like all movies / TV they have to compress the land "footprint" that the actors are in to show everyone and the action itself. Vic Morrow was the star along with Rick Jason. Who actually only was seen in about 1/4 of the shows.
  • [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baa_Baa_Black_Sheep_(TV_series) Black Sheep Squadron]. The Movie "Flying Misfits" started the series off. Pappy Boyington steals an inactive squadron - VMF 214 - breaks the staid military rules and wins both air battles and command battles. First episode is mostly true. Rest of the stories are based on things that happened during the war. Boyington was shot down in January (the 3rd I believe) of 1944 and spent the rest of war in a Japanese POW camp. He was in the same POW camp as submarine commander Dick O'Kane of the "USS Tang".
  • Danger: UXB. Set in 1940 London where an inexperienced officer gets to dismantle unexploded bombs (UXB) dropped by the Germans. Every episode till the last is gripping. The last one looks like they rushed to finish it and had no idea what kind of ending they wanted. The episodes are based on true facts.
  • 12 O'Clock High. This concerns the a fictitious 8th US Army Air Corps Heavy Bomber Group (B-17s) and the problems they faced in England and over the skies of Europe. Most combat scenes are from real combat footage taken during the war. TV show was inspired by the movie of the same name with Gregory Peck.
  • McHale's Navy. Set in the South Pacific with PT (Patrol Torpedo) boats this comedy used stock footage in the combat scenes. Mainly dealt with the monotony and the idiotic commands issued by a career Naval Officer "Capt. Binghamton." Lots of stories lifted from true things that happened. Later they get transferred to Italy (yes, PT boats also operated in the Med) for their final season on the air.
  • Mr. Roberts. This TV show was modeled after the movie. Life aboard a rear area ship where the captain of the ship has dreams of combat grandeur and takes out his anger of his assignment on a Liberty Ship on the crew.
  • China Beach. Life in the rear, and sometimes front lines, of a hospital in Vietnam. Won awards and critics but not enough viewers.
  • Tour Of Duty. Life of a platoon of soldiers in Vietnam doing their one year "Tour of Duty." Good action, fine acting, and good story lines. Like China Beach aired on TV too soon after the war to get a new audience.
  • Roll Out. 1973-74 - aka "Red Ball Express." This was a single season show that featured trucks and their drivers - predominately black - that supported Patton's Third Army for three months in the summer / fall of 1944. Based on the true convoy system set up to keep supplies rolling to the front. In real life lots of accidents occurred along with enemy ambushes as Patton bypassed German troops on the way to the Rhine river.
  • [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M*A*S*H_(TV_series) M.A.S.H.] Set in Korea, but on during the Vietnam Era, this anti-war show was also about a surgical hospital like China Beach. Difference between it and China Beach was that the war happened long ago enough to be abstract to 70% of all viewers. This meant enough time had passed between history and the shows depiction of it to be acceptable to watch. Even thought the show talked about current issues it being set in the past it was not as much "in your face" as China Beach was and thus more acceptable for people to watch.
  • Young Indiana Jones. A good portion of the series takes place during the First World War starting out in East Africa. The story lines are actually fairly accurate and deal with little known facets of the war in Africa then onto Europe. The flying scenes of aircraft were filmed in Oregon using models designed by Proctor Enterprises based near Aurora. One of my Oregon Barnstormer club members was the pilot for those scenes.
  • North and South. TV Mini-Series. Dramatization of the battle as told through two families - of course one fighting for the North and one for the South. Story line starts in the 1850s and lasts till 1865. 8 Principal leads to follow for the movie. More action occurs off the battlefield following the politics, mental state of the people, and their relations than on the battlefield.
  • The Winds of War

War and Remembrance - Volume 1 - Parts 1-7 War & Remembrance - Vol. 2, The Final Chapter: Parts 8 - 12

Winds of War / War and Remembrance. TV Mini-Series adaptation of Hermon Wouk's epic novels. Follows the family of a Naval Commander, son, the son's wife who is Jewish, from before the war to the end. Only two really good combat scenes out of the whole deal. A few of the best scenes that could have been put into the movie depicting combat from the book never were (North Africa and Outside Moscow). Deals with the politics of war more than the war itself. Tries to depict how the Jews in Europe saw themselves, the NAZI party and rules imposed on them, and related items.

The five longest-running Action / Drama / War Television Shows.

Overview

Guest stars

Episodes

Historical errors

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References