Every Saturday, The Savvy Screener’s Boomer Box is counting down “The 50 Greatest Television Episodes of the 1960s,” in reverse chronological order, as researched and written by Todd M. Pence. (This series ran originally in the Classic 1960’s TV Facebook group.)
The middle of October 1964 was quite a week for great television. Today features the second of three installments which were originally aired within just a few days of each other.
ABC’s 12 O’ Clock High (a series based on the 1949 film of the same name) was, along with Combat!, one of two premier 1960s military dramas set during World War II. During the first season, Robert Lansing was the show’s lead as Brigadier General Frank Savage, commander of a U.S. Air Force base in England.
On October 16, 1964, the episode “The Sound of Distant Thunder” welcomed guest star Peter Fonda as Andy Lathrop, a green pilot fresh off the farm who is assigned as the base’s new bombardier. At first Savage is taken aback at Lathrop’s obvious youth and wet-behind-the-ears manner, but Lathrop proves his mettle when he saves’ Savage’s life after a routine mission goes wrong. Savage, seeing potential in the youngster, takes him under his wing with an idea to promote him to full lieutenancy.
But Lathrop disappoints Savage after failing to return on time from a leave – one in which he started a drunken brawl and became infatuated with a local girl. When Savage rebukes Lathrop, the latter plans to desert the army and marry his romantic liaison – but he is about to get a harsh lesson in the realities of life and war.
Although it would later be renewed for a second [and then a third] season, Lansing would not be retained by producer Quinn Martin. In a move rare for the time, Savage died heroically in the fall 1965 season premiere, making the series one of the first on television to kill off a regular character (the half-hour version of Naked City had also done this back in 1959).
You can watch 12 O’Clock High Saturdays at 11 pm over the air on Heroes & Icons.
(Source for images: IMDb)
- ‘Mr. Novak’: 1960s’ #28 - July 17, 2021
- James Drury’s ‘Virginian’ - July 10, 2021
- Peter Fonda’s 1964 ’High’ - July 3, 2021
- #31: ‘The Outer Limits’ - June 26, 2021
- The Fugitive’s ‘Survivors’ - June 19, 2021
- Slattery’s People ‘Unborn’ - June 12, 2021
- Rod Serling’s ‘The Loner’ - June 5, 2021
- 1960s’ #36: ‘Combat!’ - May 22, 2021
- ‘60s #37: ‘The Time Tunnel’ - May 15, 2021
- #38: ‘Mission: Impossible’ - May 8, 2021