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F Troop

F Troop is a satirical American television sitcom that originally aired for two seasons on ABC-TV. It debuted in the United States on September 14, 1965 and concluded its run on April 6, 1967 with a total of 65 episodes. The first season of 34 episodes was filmed in black-and-white, but the show switched to color for its second season. Reruns premiered on the ITV network in the United Kingdom on October 29, 1968, and were screened repeatedly until July 16, 1974. The series was also broadcast nationally in Australia on ABC-TV and in Ireland on Telefís Éireann.

F Troop is set at Fort Courage, Kansas—a fictional United States Army outpost in the Old West—shortly after the American Civil War ended in 1865. There's also a town of the same name adjacent to the fort. Fort Courage was supposedly named for General Sam Courage (portrayed by Cliff Arquette), who had been in the army for forty years. Given that there were only four generals in the regular army before the Civil War, taking 40 years to advance to the rank of general was fairly common. The show is light on historical accuracy, (e.g. the uniforms, weapons, salutes and calling a company "troop" are incorrect for the period) but heavy on character-based humor; verbal and visual gags, slapstick and burlesque comedy make up the prime ingredients of F Troop.

The commanding officer is the gallant but chronically clumsy and accident-prone Captain Wilton Parmenter (Ken Berry), descended from a long line of distinguished military officers. He was awarded the Medal of Honor after accidentally instigating the final charge at the Battle of Appomattox. Only a private, he was ordered to fetch his commanding officer's laundry. As he rode away, pollen in the air caused him to sneeze repeatedly. A group of Union soldiers mistook his sneeze for an order to charge, turning the tide of the battle. His superiors, wishing to reward his action, promoted him to captain and—in view of his ineptitude—gave him command of remote Fort Courage, a dumping ground for the army's least useful soldiers and misfits. Of the three commanding officers at Fort Courage before Captain Parmenter, two of them deserted and one suffered a nervous breakdown. He was also awarded the Purple Heart after he was accidentally pricked in the chest by his commanding officer while receiving the Medal of Honor - "the only soldier in history to get a medal for getting a medal."

Much of the humor of the series derives from the scheming of Captain Parmenter's crooked but amiable non-commissioned officers, Sergeant O'Rourke (Forrest Tucker) and Corporal Randolph Agarn (Larry Storch). They, along with the local Indian tribe, the Hekawis—led by Chief Wild Eagle (Frank DeKova)—are alternately seeking to expand and conceal their illicit businesses, covertly and collectively referred to as "O'Rourke Enterprises". At one point, rations and pay were drawn for 30 men at Fort Courage, even though only 17 were actually accounted for. This was apparently to help finance the dealings of O'Rourke Enterprises. Although O'Rourke and Agarn take full advantage of Captain Parmenter's innocent naïveté, they are also fond of and fiercely protective of him, and woe be to anyone out to harm him. Parmenter also struggles to exert his authority outside the ranks. He tries to escape the matrimonial plans of his girlfriend, shopkeeper–postmistress Jane Angelica Thrift, known locally as "Wrangler Jane" (Melody Patterson), though he is seen to be a bit more affectionate towards her during the second season.

 

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