September 14, 1965 (1965-09-14) – April 6, 1967 (1967-04-06)
F Troop is a satirical American television sitcom about U.S. soldiers and American Indians in the Wild West during the 1860s 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 series switched to color for its second season.
The series relies heavily on character-based humor; verbal and visual gags, slapstick, physical comedy and burlesque comedy make up the prime ingredients of F Troop. The series also plays fast and loose with historical events and persons and often deliberately parodies them for comical effect (such as with calling the Winchester 73 rifle the Chestwinster 76 rifle) There are even some indirect references made to the culture of the 1960s such as a "Playbrave Club" (a parody of a Playboy Club) and imitations of Rock & Roll bands (including singing songs written in the 1960s).
Main cast (clockwise from top left): Forrest Tucker; Larry Storch; Melody Patterson; Ken Berry.
F Troop is set at Fort Courage — a fictional United States Army outpost in the Old West—from just at the end of the American Civil War in 1865 to at least 1867. There's also a town of the same name adjacent to the fort. Fort Courage was named for fictitious General Sam Courage (portrayed by Cliff Arquette), who has been in the Army for forty years. The fort itself is in the stockade style stereotypically found in most American westerns.
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 is awarded the Medal of Honor after accidentally instigating the final charge at the Battle of Appomattox. Only a private in the Quartermaster Corps, he is ordered to fetch the commanding officer's laundry (with the inference that it is General Grant's laundry). As he rides away to get the laundry he repeatedly sneezes. A group of Union soldiers mistake his sneezing for an order to charge, turning the tide of the battle and "earning" Parmenter the nickname "The Scourge of Appomattox". He is also awarded the (then non-existent) Purple Heart after he is accidentally pricked in the chest by his commanding officer while receiving his first medal – "the only soldier in history to get a medal for getting a medal". His superiors, wishing to reward his action, promote him to captain and give him command of remote Fort Courage, a dumping ground for the Army's least useful soldiers and misfits (the Secretary of War (William Woodson) notes "Why, the Army sent them out there hoping they'd all desert"). Of the three commanding officers at Fort Courage before Captain Parmenter, two deserted and one suffered a nervous breakdown.
Much of the humor of the series derives from the scheming of Captain Parmenter's somewhat crooked but amiable non-commissioned officers, Sergeant Morgan O'Rourke (Forrest Tucker) and Corporal Randolph Agarn (Larry Storch). They, in league with the local (fictitious) American Indian tribe, the Hekawis—led by Chief Wild Eagle (Frank de Kova), are forever seeking to expand and conceal their shady business deals covertly and collectively referred to as "O'Rourke Enterprises". Initially, rations and pay were drawn for 30 men at Fort Courage, even though only 17 are actually accounted for (the other 13, according to O'Rourke, are Indian scouts who only come to the fort at night and leave before dawn). The pay of the fictitious scouts is apparently used to help finance the dealings of O'Rourke Enterprises. Although O'Rourke and Agarn try to take full advantage of Captain Parmenter's innocence and naïveté, they are also very 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. Very bashful, he tries to escape the matrimonial plans of his girlfriend, shopkeeper–postmistress Jane Angelica Thrift, known locally as "Wrangler Jane" (Melody Patterson), though he becomes a bit more affectionate towards her during the second season.
In the episode "Captain Parmenter, One Man Army", it is revealed that all of the soldiers (troopers) of F Troop have been at Fort Courage for at least 20 months, therefore they spent at least part of the Civil War at Fort Courage. They are so incompetent that when they are formed into a firing squad in "The Day They Shot Agarn" all of them completely miss Agarn despite standing only a few yards away from him. The most common running gag through both seasons of the series (shown in every first season opening except for the pilot episode) involves the fort's lookout tower: every time the cannon is fired in salute, the lit fuse burns out. Corporal Agarn or Private Dobbs then steps up and kicks the cannon's right wheel, collapsing the cannon and causing it to fire off target; the cannonball strikes a support leg of the lookout tower, bringing it crashing to the ground (along with the trooper in it). In the opening credits, this coincides with the line in the lyrics, "Before they resume with a bang and a boom". In one episode, an arrow brings the tower crashing down and in another Parmenter brings down the tower with a lasso. In another episode, musical instruments being played loudly cause the tower to collapse. The fort water tower is also a frequent victim of this sort of gag.
The dubious efficiency of F Troop is clarified in the show's opening theme. The words of the song (by Irving Taylor) were only used in the first season's opening credits (except for the pilot episode), along with comical F Troop battle scenes intercut with stock Hollywood Western footage. The second season opening credits used only the instrumental ending part, over still cartoon scenes and caricatures of the main cast.
The end of the Civil War was near
When quite accidentally,
The hero who sneezed, abruptly seized
Retreat and reversed it to victory!
His medal of honor pleased and thrilled
His proud little family group.
While pinning it on some blood was spilled
And so it was planned he command F Troop!
Where Indian fights are colorful sights
And nobody takes a lickin'
Where paleface and redskin
Both turn chicken.
When drilling and fighting get them down
They know their morale can't droop.
As long as they all relax in town
Before they resume with a bang and a boom... F Troop!
F Troop officers & enlisted men
Captain Wilton Parmenter (Ken Berry) – The so-called "Scourge of the West." As military governor of the territory and commander of Fort Courage, he is credited with keeping the peace (which is in fact really kept by O'Rourke's secret treaty with the Hekawi tribe – though other tribes seem to fear his reputation). Chief Wild Eagle knows him by a different title: "The Great White Pigeon". When the need to keep up appearances arises, the troopers and the Hekawis stage mock battles to fool Parmenter and outsiders. Parmenter is successful at keeping the peace – he just doesn't know why. He is well-meaning and sweet-natured, although essentially clueless and a bit gullible. He is also invariably kind and encouraging to his men – and always bravely leads them into action (albeit ineptly). A stickler for regulation and proper military conduct he checks the Army manual for even the oddest situations such as "If a soldier is captured by horse". A perpetual klutz, Parmenter is forever japing himself, pinching his fingers in or on something, banging into, tripping over or knocking things over. He cannot dismount a horse properly and frequently becomes entangled with his ceremonial sword. Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania he comes from a "proud family" with a "great military tradition" including his first cousin Major Achilles Parmenter, second cousin Lt. Colonel Hercules Parmenter, uncle Colonel Jupiter Parmenter (Rod McGaughy), his father General Thor Parmenter and his great-grandfather Major Hannibal Parmenter who was with Gen. George Washington at Valley Forge (while Agarn's great-grandfather was a deserter).Jeanette Nolan played his visiting mother (no first name given) in "A Fort's Best Friend is Not a Mother". When his sister Daphne Parmenter (Patty Regan) visits the fort her eyes are on Private Dobbs. O'Rourke frequently calls Captain Parmenter "the Old Man" in the sense that he is their leader though Parmenter is usually surprised at being called "the Old Man" as he is fairly young. In "The Majority of Wilton" (near the end of the series), he turns down a promotion to major because it would mean being reassigned to a new command and leaving F Troop.
Sergeant Morgan Sylvester O'Rourke (Forrest Tucker) – The Sgt. Bilko of his day (as Agarn said to O'Rourke: "When it comes to shifty, sneaky, double dealing...you're the tops"). Originally from Steubenville, Ohio, he has been in the Army at least twenty-five years and it took him either ten years to become a sergeant or has been a sergeant for 22 years as of his 25th anniversary. His brother's name is Morton O'Rourke. O'Rourke's business dealings involve illegally running the local town saloon and an exclusive-rights treaty with the local Indian tribe (the Hekawi) to sell their "authentic" souvenirs to tourists and for the commercial market through the shady, undercover O'Rourke Enterprises operation. He also tries to find ways to fleece the men out of their pay through different schemes such as finding the men mail-order brides. Though most of his business schemes usually fail, he is apparently the only competent soldier in F Troop. It is mentioned that O'Rourke is a veteran of the Mexican–American War, but nothing is said about the Civil War. In "The Sergeant and the Kid", the tall and rugged O'Rourke shows his romantic side by taking an interest in the Widow Molly Walker (Pippa Scott) and her son Joey (Peter Robbins). In "Don't Look Now But One of Our Cannons is Missing", O'Rourke claims he saved Agarn's life twice, once from drowning and another time when a rattlesnake bit him. Tucker had actually served in the US Cavalry prior to World War II and played a similar "O'Rourke" cavalry sergeant on Gunsmoke. Tucker's wife at the time, Mary Fisk, appeared in the series twice. She played Squirrel Girl in "Lieutenant O'Rourke, Front and Center" (which involves O'Rourke being promoted to lieutenant) and Kissing Squaw in "What Are You Doing After the Massacre?".
Corporal Randolph Agarn (Larry Storch) – Randolph Agarn is O'Rourke's somewhat dimwitted sidekick and business partner in the shady O'Rourke Enterprises (his name is a play on both Randolph Scott and John Agar who were cowboy stars). Originally from Passaic, New Jersey, it took Agarn six years to become a corporal. At the time of the series, Agarn has been in the cavalry for 10 years, and has been posted to Fort Courage for the last four, apparently spending the Civil War years at Fort Courage. He has impersonated Generals George Washington and Ulysses Grant. However, in dual roles, Storch played numerous lookalike relatives of Agarn including his French-Canadian cousin Lucky Pierre, his Russian cousin Dmitri Agarnoff and his Mexican bandito cousin Pancho Agarnado known as 'El Diablo' (in the same episode he also played Granny Agarn, Uncle Gaylord Agarn of Tallahassee and Pancho's sister Carmen Agarnado), Confrontational and often overly-emotional in every respect, Agarn frequently collapses in tears with the phrases "Oh, Cap'n!" or "Oh, Sarge!" (depending on whose chest he buries his head in). To get the men to attention, he barks out his trademark loud and exaggerated (but unintelligible) "Aaaaa-aaahh" command. Whenever he becomes frustrated by something one of the troopers does wrong (which is often), short-tempered Agarn hits him with his hat which, unlike everyone else's, is white. A hypochondriac, Agarn thinks he's contracted the illnesses he reads or hears about or others around him have (including a horse). One running gag during the second season involves Agarn's delayed reactions, which usually ran: Agarn would make a suggestion; O'Rourke would respond: "Agarn, I don't know why everyone says you're so dumb!" At the beginning of the next scene (which could be several hours or days after the original comment), Agarn, suddenly indignant, demands: "Who says I'm dumb?!" Larry Storch was nominated for an Emmy Award for "Outstanding performance by an actor in a leading role in a comedy series" in 1967.
Bugler Private Hannibal Shirley Dobbs (James Hampton) – F Troop's inept bugler, originally from New Orleans, who can only play "Yankee Doodle" and "Dixie" with regularity. Standard U.S. Army tunes like "Reveille", "Assembly" and "Retreat" are only occasionally played competently. One episode had him playing a song, which Wrangler Jane says is a lovely rendition of "Old Kentucky Home", only for him to say he'd been trying to play "Reveille". A southern "mama's boy", he is also Captain Parmenter's personal assistant, as well as serving in the fort's cannon crew—usually with disastrous results. Private Dobbs is a personal thorn in Agarn's side, with his regular taunts resulting in Agarn's frequent retort, "I'm warning you, Dobbs!", or threatening him with a court-martial. Dobbs learned how to use a lasso on his mama's alligator farm.
Trooper Vanderbilt (Joe Brooks) – The fort's lookout who seems all but blind even with glasses (20/900 in each eye, according to Agarn) and answers questions from the lookout tower about what he sees with incongruous responses such as, "No, thank you Agarn. I just had my coffee." He once allowed two Indians wearing feather head-dresses to enter the fort unchallenged. Asked why, he replied, "I thought they were turkeys." Yet in another episode he mistakes a group of turkeys for attacking Indians. In one episode he shoots his pistol in a crowded barracks—and manages to miss everyone. Vanderbilt was a bustle inspector in a dress factory before joining the Army. In the running gag that brings the lookout tower crashing to the ground, it is unclear whether it is the heavyset Vanderbilt who comes down with it (the person who comes down each time with the tower appears to be much thinner).
Trooper Duffy (Bob Steele) – An aged old time cavalryman with a limp, the result of his "old Alamo injury" acting up again. Duffy claims to be the lone survivor of the siege of the Alamo in 1836 and loves to recount his exploits alongside Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie, "shoulder to shoulder and backs to the wall" (Steele was a 1930s and '40s Western movie and serial star, and appeared in a 1926 movie about Davy Crockett at the Alamo). However, no one ever seems to take his claim seriously and he may be engaged in telling tall tales. Parmenter discovered that Duffy is listed as dead in his service record.
"Wrangler" Jane Angelica Thrift (Melody Patterson) – Captain Wilton Parmenter's beautiful but tomboyish, feisty, romantically aggressive girlfriend, dressed in buckskins and a cowgirl hat. She owns Wrangler Jane's Trading Post and runs the U.S. post office in town. She is a telegrapher and the best sharpshooter in the territory. Whenever the fort is attacked she fights alongside everyone else usually shooting more Indians than everyone else. She is determined to marry the ever romantically elusive and naïve Parmenter and is often obliged to rescue him from his various predicaments. When she kisses the very bashful Parmenter he usually says "Please Jane, not in front of the men". In "The Sergeant and the Kid" she replied back "But there're no men here" to which he replied "Well then, not in front of me". As part of this running gag, in the same episode after Jane mistakenly kisses Agarn, he says "Please Jane, not in front of the Captain." While Parmenter is reticent about showing any overt interest in Jane he does become quite jealous if another man shows any interest in her. However, in "Marriage, Fort Courage Style" (one of the last episodes in the series), Parmenter finally shows a direct interest in Jane. He sets a date three months hence as the beginning of their engagement to be married (Parmenter explains the reason he has hesitated to marry Jane is that the Parmenters as military men are rather hard on their wives). The character had her own theme music; a banjo piece usually played on the soundtrack to cue her entrances, or initial appearance in each episode. For more on Melody Patterson see Creation and Production.
The Hekawi tribe
The Hekawi appear to be a very small tribe consisting of only one small village. They live an indeterminate distance from Fort Courage, though the directions to their camp are described as: "Make right turn at big rock that look like bear, then make left turn at big bear that look like rock". In "Reunion for O'Rourke", Chief Wild Eagle explains how the tribe got its name: "Many moons ago tribe move west because Pilgrims ruin neighborhood. Tribe travel west, over country and mountains and wild streams, then come big day... tribe fall over cliff, that when Hekawi get name. Medicine man say to my ancestor, "I think we lost. Where the heck are we?". "Where the heck are we?" became "We're the Hekawi" (the original name for the tribe in the series, 'Fugawi', was changed after the censors discovered the sentence "Where the Fugawi?").
The Hekawis are 50/50 partners in everything they do with O'Rourke Enterprises. They make most of the company's products, usually in the form of Indian souvenirs (on a commercial scale) and whiskey for the town saloon. They are a peace-loving tribe, (mainly due to cowardice) and self described as "the tribe that invented the peace pipe", "lovers, not fighters" and "proud descendents of cowards". Profit minded, the Hekawis look to be paid when O’Rourke needs them to do something like orchestrate a fake attack on the fort and will haggle over the price and how many braves would be in the attack (when O'Rourke balks at the price, the Chief reminds him that the Apache will gladly make a real attack on the fort for free). But because it had been such a long time since they had been on the "warpath" when the series started Agarn has to teach the Hekawis how to do a war dance. Anytime the tribe wants to contact the fort they use smoke signals which only O'Rourke can read. In one episode (and referred to in another), the Hekawis have a "Playbrave Club" (a parody of Playboy Club) complete with go-go dancing and 1960s style music.
As a sly jest based on the myth that American Indians are the 13th tribe of Israel, many of the Hekawi Indians were played by veteran Yiddish comedians using classic Yiddish shtick. The regular Indian characters (none of whom was played by Native American actors) include:
Chief Wild Eagle (Frank de Kova) – The shrewd, cranky but essentially good-natured leader of the Hekawi tribe, and business partner in the shady O'Rourke Enterprises schemes (in "Reunion for O'Rourke" Wild Eagle says he has been chief for 17 years). In spite of his gruff appearance Wild Eagle said: "Don't let name Wild Eagle fool you. I had changed it from Yellow Chicken". Like all the Indian characters portrayed in F Troop, he speaks with a mock American Indian accent in a semi broken English dialect stereotypical of American westerns (see first paragraph of The Hekawi Tribe and Tribal Members for examples). Often O'Rourke, Agarn, Parmenter, and Jane come to him for advice when they have a problem and Wild Eagle has a wise old Indian saying for every occasion (such as "Wise old Indian say you cannot make a fur coat out of a goose feather"), which he often admits even he does not know the meaning of or how it applies to the situation at hand. On differing occasions, he says he is the son of Crazy Horse, the brother-in-law of Sitting Bull, and the cousin of Geronimo. De Kova's contribution to the series was deemed so important that, beginning in the second season, he is listed in the opening credits.
Crazy Cat (Don Diamond) – Chief Wild Eagle's goofy assistant and heir apparent. He often speculates on when he will become chief, but is subsequently rebuked by Chief Wild Eagle. Appearing sporadically in the early first season episodes, he became a regularly featured character later in the first season, as Roaring Chicken and "Medicine Man" were phased out of the series. "Craze" (as O'Rourke and Agarn sometimes call him) does become "acting chief" in the episode titled, "Our Brave in F Troop" (when O'Rourke and Agarn have to somehow sneak Wild Eagle into Fort Courage to see the Army dentist so he can get his tooth pulled). Crazy Cat humorously comments on the situation, "When Wild Eagle away, Crazy Cat play."
In order of number of appearances:
Happy Bear/Smokey Bear (Ben Frommer) – An overweight, usually silent Hekawi brave in black braids and a Fire Ranger's hat (a parody of Smokey Bear of "Only you can prevent forest fires" fame). In the first season Frommer appears (usually uncredited) as Happy Bear, sometimes as Smokey Bear, once as Papa Bear and also Red Arrow and a few times without a name. In the second season he appears solely as Smokey Bear. Overall, Frommer appeared in 52 episodes in rather minor mainly non-speaking roles.
Trooper Duddleson (Ivan Bell) – A sleepy, slovenly, obese soldier who is hit on the head repeatedly by Agarn for having his body in line but not his belly, or sleeping when he's supposed to be at attention. He is sometimes upbraided by Agarn for having gravy stains on his shirt. Duddleson typically wears a printed piece of cloth instead of the standard yellow neckerchief. According to his service record Duddleson was a female impersonator with a carnival in civilian life. He appears in 45 episodes, but in a minor, often non-speaking, role.
Trooper Hogan (Jimmy Horan) – Appears in 31 episodes, but in a minor usually non-speaking role.
Trooper Hoffenmueller (John Mitchum) – A trooper who can either (a) only speak in his native German or (b) speaks English with a German accent, depending upon the episode. According to his service record Hoffenmueller can speak Cherokee, Sioux, Apache, and Hekawi. "We can use you as an interpreter ... just as soon as you learn to speak English" —Capt. Parmenter. He appears in 11 episodes, but in a minor role.
Stagecoach Driver (Rudy Doucette) – He briefly appears in 7 episodes including one as Slim.
Roaring Chicken (Edward Everett Horton) – An ancient Hekawi medicine man and son of Sitting Duck. He appears in only 6 episodes in the first season. And he "invented" the RoarChick test (a parody of the Rorschach test). Long time veteran actor Horton guest starred on the 1960s TV series Batman as a villain called "Chief Screaming Chicken".
Pete (Benny Baker) – The bartender at the saloon, appears in 5 episodes.
Charlie – The town drunk (veteran stuntman Harvey Parry and Frank McHugh). Fort Courage got Charlie from Dodge City. As Capt. Parmenter says: "We were lucky to get him – Dodge had a spare" and "We're all proud of you Charlie; you're the fastest drunk in the West". The role was created especially for Parry to show off his skills (he was in his sixties by then, but appears in only 3 episodes). In "Will the Real Captain Try to Stand Up", Charlie (Frank McHugh) temporarily pretends to be the captain of F Troop while Charlie's daughter, Cindy Charles (Linda Foster), is visiting because she thinks he actually is the captain of F Troop rather than the town drunk.
Major Duncan (James Gregory) – Captain Parmenter's superior from Territory Headquarters, who usually "brings a saddlebag full of trouble," according to O'Rourke. According to the episode "Too Many Cooks Soil the Troop", Major Duncan had taken F Troop's quartermaster, clerk, blacksmith and cook and transferred them to his own fort. Gregory appeared twice as Major Duncan and once as the land baron Big Jim Parker who bought the town and the land the fort sits on.
Trooper Leonard "Wrongo" Starr (Henry Gibson) – A jinxed soldier (the name is a play on Beatles drummer Ringo Starr). He appears in "Wrongo Starr and the Lady in Black" and in "The Return of Wrongo Starr." Alternative explanations are given for the origin of the jinx.
Medicine Man (J. Pat O'Malley) – An unnamed Hekawi "doctor" who prescribes various tribal dances to treat diverse ailments. He appears in 2 episodes.
Other members of F Troop
Most of the other troopers in F Troop are usually only seen at assembly or in passing, with most of the focus on the troopers listed above under Regular Characters and Recurring Characters. Their names are only occasionally mentioned and it is not clear who the other members of F Troop are. Below are the names mentioned in various episodes:
According to Austin and Irma Kalish (interviewed for the 2007 DVD release of the second season), the writers deliberately took advantage of the multiple talents of their versatile cast, especially Larry Storch's expertise at mimicry and Ken Berry's gift for improvising physical comedy. In several episodes, one of the featured stars plays a double role:
Larry Storch portrays Agarn's Canadian fur trapper cousin Lucky Pierre in "The Singing Mountie", and Agarn's Russian soldier cousin Col. Dimitri Agarnoff in "Only One Russian Is Coming! Only One Russian Is Coming!" In the episode "El Diablo", Storch plays four roles in addition to Corporal Agarn: Agarn's Mexican bandito cousin Pancho Agarnado (known as El Diablo), Granny Agarn, Uncle Gaylord Agarn and Carmen Agarnado. In one episode, Agarn pretends to be George Washington; in another, General Ulysses S. Grant.
In "Wilton the Kid", Ken Berry plays Parmenter's notorious outlaw lookalike Kid Vicious.
In "Did Your Father Come from Ireland?", Forrest Tucker plays O'Rourke's Irish father.
In the order of their appearance on the show (for the most part)
The series is a broad, lighthearted military farce which usually played fast and loose with historical events and persons. However, though the series was meant to be comical rather than historically accurate, writers Austin and Irma Kalish, interviewed for the 2007 DVD release of the series, revealed that some scripts had their origins in actual events or authentic 19th century Army protocol. One episode, titled "The Sergeant and the Kid", tells the story of 10-year old Joey Walker (Peter Robbins), who tried to join F Troop. This episode is loosely based on the true story of John Lincoln Clem, a 10-year old from Newark, Ohio who tried to enlist in the United States Army at the outbreak of the Civil War. Clem would end up serving in the Army for 54 years, and be promoted to major general upon his retirement in 1916. Likewise, "The Day They Shot Agarn" had its roots in historically accurate regulations obtained from a period cavalry manual, according to Austin Kalish.
The series often deliberately parodied history such as with calling the Winchester 73 rifle the Chestwinster 76 rifle and having Chief Wild Eagle related to Crazy Horse, Geronimo and Sitting Bull (many of the Indian names are parodies as well such as Standup Bull). The series also heavily relied on stereotypes still common and, for the most part, still considered acceptable in the 1960s, but usually for comical effect rather than anything even inadvertently demeaning (such as the fictitious Indian greeting of "How" or referring to Native Americans/Indians as "Redskins" – which is now considered demeaning). In some ways, the series mocked the stereotypes seen in American western movies and TV shows.
The official surrender of General Robert E. Lee to General Ulysses S. Grant after the Battle of Appomattox Court House in Virginia on April 9, 1865 did not, in fact, end the Civil War. The war did not come to a final end until June 23, 1865. So it's possible that when Captain Parmenter arrived at Fort Courage, the Civil War may have still been ongoing. However, during the episode "Don't Look Now, One of Our Cannon is Missing", Agarn (impersonating Ulysses S. Grant) mentions having lunch with President Lincoln, setting the date of the episode before Lincoln's death.Abraham Lincoln died on April 15, less than one week after the Battle of Appomattox Court House, but an earlier reference in the episode to a battle with the (fictitious) Shug Tribe sets the time Parmenter has been at Fort Courage at a minimum of several months, which makes reconciling the dates in the first few episodes impossible.
Many online sources presume that Fort Courage is set in Kansas and several references are made about Captain Parmenter being the "military governor of the territory". However, Kansas was made a state in 1861 and therefore was not a territory but a state during the time frame of the show. The location of the fort is never stated in the series, however, so the Kansas location may be erroneous.
O'Rourke is celebrating his 25th anniversary in the service during the episode "Reunion for O'Rourke" and mentions to Agarn that he "joined up for the Mexican War". Since the Mexican-American War started in 1846 and ended in 1848, the episode, depending on when during the war O'Rourke "joined up", would need to be set 6 to 8 years after the Civil War, rather than shortly thereafter.
The episode "Old Ironpants" briefly features General George Armstrong Custer (John Stephenson). Given the time period (1865 to 1867) in which F Troop is set, Custer may no longer have been a general. His commission as a general of volunteers expired on January 31, 1866 and was reduced in rank to captain in the regular Army. A short time later he was made a lieutenant colonel, but given the brevet rank of major general (either way, at least as a courtesy, he could be addressed as "General"). In addition, as Custer departs, Parmenter wishes him luck at his "new assignment at Little Bighorn" (see below).
Little Bighorn is mentioned from time to time throughout the run of the series. However, the Battle of Little Bighorn would not take place until 1876.
Although he is awarded the Medal of Honor, Captain Parmenter is incorrectly shown receiving what appears to be the Silver Star, an award that was not created until 1918 (as the Citation Star) and as the Silver Star until 1932. However, the Medal of Honordoes feature a star and was first awarded during the American Civil War. Captain Parmenter also receives a Purple Heart, which did not exist until 1932 and was retroactively awarded to persons serving on or after April 5, 1917.
The episode "Marriage, Fort Courage Style" shows Agarn in a dream sequence watching stereopticon slides of "a new game this fellow named Doubleday invented called baseball". When his dream wife pesters him to do the chores, he retorts by saying, "Not now, I'm watching the game!" It's been proven that Abner Doubleday never invented baseball, never claimed to, and may never have even seen a professional game.
The episode "The Singing Mountie" features Paul Lynde as the phony "Singing Mountie" Sgt. Ramsden and Don Kent as the real Sgt. Ramsden of the Canadian Mounties. The series is set in the 1865 to 1867 time period, but the formative organization that would eventually become the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (originally called the "North-West Mounted Police" and where the title Canadian Mounties comes from) was not founded until 1873.
The episode "Go for Broke" guest starred George Gobel as Henry Terkel who invents a working telephone, a working radio and a not-so-workable steam driven "horseless carriage". The time period for the show is 1865-1867 and, although there were some working on the idea at the time, the first working telephone wasn't invented until 1876 (by Alexander Graham Bell). While important discoveries about what would become radio were being made as early as 1873, the first working radio wasn't invented until the 1890s. However, many attempts were made throughout the 1800s to invent a steam powered self-propelled carriage (hence horseless) so the series is accurate in depicting a failed attempt in the 1860s. A working model wasn't built until 1873 (by Amédée Bollée). See steam car.
The uniforms, weapons, salutes and calling a cavalry company "troop" are incorrect for the period.
In the episode "Spy, Counterspy, Counter Counterspy", a reference is made to a cocktail known as a French 75. The cocktail, named after a French cannon introduced in 1897, was not created until 1915.
In "The Courtship of Wrangler Jane", Chief Wild Eagle mentions Yellowstone Park. The area that became Yellowstone National Park wasn't made into a park until 1872 and would not have been referred to as park before its inception in 1871.
By all reliable accounts, it's impossible for Duffy to have been wounded at the Alamo in 1836 as no white adult males fighting for Texas are known to have survived the battle. And of course it's purposely silly that Duffy would be listed in his service record as dead and yet continue to be listed as an active member of the Army and draw pay (however, no doubt many service records had many mistakes, some of which were never properly corrected). In 1836, Texas was not yet part of the United States and only became an independent nation after the battle. So, Duffy would have been listed as a member of the Army of the Republic of Texas. Of course, it's possible that Duffy may only be indulging in spinning some "tall tales" and none of the characters in the series ever seem to take his claim seriously.
Creation and production
Although the show's opening credits claim F Troop was created by Richard Bluel, a final arbitration by the Writers Guild of America eventually gave Seaman Jacobs, Ed James, and Jim Barnett credit.
The plot engine of O'Rourke and Agarn's money making schemes echoed that of an American television series of the late 1950s, The Phil Silvers Show, which had featured swindling by the wily Sergeant Bilko, also based at a "peacetime" Army base — albeit in the mid-20th century although with the twist of involving local pre-industrial aboriginals with US military men in money making schemes. It also echoes some of the money making schemes found in the American television series McHale's Navy which was written by some of the same writers from the Bilko show.
Melody Patterson lied about her age to get the part of Wrangler Jane. She was 15 at the time of her audition, but turned 16 by the time filming started. As a result the romance between Jane and Parmenter was kept very low key during the first season. By the time production of the second season started, Patterson had turned 17 and Parmenter's affections were made stronger and Jane was made more sexually aggressive (Patterson was 10 days short of turning 18 when the last episode was aired).
The show's ratings were still healthy after the second year (ranked #40 out of 113 shows for the 1966-67 season, with a 31.3 share), but according to Tucker, Warner Bros.' new owners, Seven Arts, discontinued production because they thought it was wasteful for so much of the Warner Ranch to be taken up by a single half-hour TV show. Producer William Orr says the studio was also unhappy with the added costs of producing the show in color during its second season.
Although only two seasons were produced, F Troop enjoyed a healthy second life in syndication. The show was a particular favorite on Nick at Nite in the 1990s, running from 1991 to 1995 despite an archive of only 65 episodes. Reruns began airing on Me-TV on September 2, 2013.
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, in Ireland on Telefís Éireann and in Italy during the 80s as a "filler" show during summer months (when ratings usually dropped due to large numbers of people going on holidays).
Writer/director Bobby Logan is working on a feature version of F Troop, to be produced by Logan and Alan Hall. However, as of 2014, Logan has not received authorization on any script or filming rights.
Near the close of the VCR era, thirty of the series' sixty five episodes were digitally remastered and released in 1998 on ten VHS tapes by Columbia House.
On September 27, 2005, Warner Home Video released the first F Troop DVD compilation as part of its "Television Favorites" series. The six-episode DVD included three black-and-white episodes and three color episodes.
Following the successful sales from the "Television Favorites" sampler release, Warner Home Video released F Troop: The Complete First Season, with all 34 black-and-white episodes included. The Complete Second Season of F Troop was released on DVD on May 29, 2007. The DVD features interviews with original F Troop members, writers and other production personnel, as well as behind-the-scenes information. However, only one major actor from the series, Ken Berry, was interviewed for the half-hour special. There were also audio segments of an interview with actor Joe Brooks ("Private Vanderbilt").
^ abcdef"The New I.G.". F Troop. Season 1. Episode 21. February 8, 1966.
^ abcd"Lieutenant O'Rourke, Front and Center". F Troop. Season 1. Episode 32. April 26, 1966.
^ abcdef"That's Show Biz". F Troop. Season 2. Episode 23. February 9, 1967.
^ abcd"Our Brave in F Troop". F Troop. Season 2. Episode 30. March 30, 1967.
^ abcdefghij"Scourge of the West". F Troop. Season 1. Episode 1. September 14, 1965.
^ ab"Don't Ever Speak to Me Again". F Troop. Season 1. Episode 27. March 22, 1966.
^ abcde"Captain Parmenter, One Man Army". F Troop. Season 1. Episode 26. March 15, 1966.
^ abcde"The Day They Shot Agarn". F Troop. Season 2. Episode 24. February 16, 1967.
^ abcde"Me Heap Big Injun". F Troop. Season 1. Episode 9. November 9, 1965.
^ abc"A Horse of Another Color". F Troop. Season 2. Episode 21. January 26, 1967.
^ ab"A Fort's Best Friend is Not a Mother". F Troop. Season 1. Episode 31. April 19, 1966.
^ abcdefghi"Miss Parmenter". F Troop. Season 2. Episode 11. November 17, 1966.
^ ab"The Majority of Wilton". F Troop. Season 2. Episode 29. March 23, 1967.
^ abcde"Too Many Cooks Spoil the Troop". F Troop. Season 1. Episode 28. March 29, 1966.
^ abcdefghijklm"Reunion for O'Rourke, Pardner". F Troop. Season 1. Episode 25. April 26, 1966.
^ abcde"Old Ironpants". F Troop. Season 1. Episode 8. November 2, 1965.
^ abcd"The Sergeant and the Kid". F Troop. Season 2. Episode 19. September January 12, 1967.
^ abcdef"Don't Look Now, One of Our Cannons is Missing". F Troop. Season 1. Episode 2. September 21, 1965.
^ abc"What Are You Doing After the Massacre?". F Troop. Season 2. Episode 20. January 19, 1967.
^ abcde"The Singing Mountie". F Troop. Season 2. Episode 1. September 8, 1966.
^ abcd"Spy Only One Russian is Coming! Only One Russian is Coming!". F Troop. Season 2. Episode 25. February 23, 1967.
^ abcd"El Diablo". F Troop. Season 1. Episode 19. January 18, 1966.
^ abcd"Corporal Agarn's Farewell to the Troops". F Troop. Season 1. Episode 4. October 10, 1965.
^ abcde"Johnny Eagle Eye". F Troop. Season 1. Episode 30. April 12, 1966.
^ abc"The Courtship of Wrangler Jane". F Troop. Season 1. Episode 23. February 22, 1966.
^ abcd"The Marriage, Fort Courage Style". F Troop. Season 2. Episode 27. March 9, 1967.