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LJ Idol X - Week [5] - F Trump

As we are on the verge of a new presidential administration in the United States, many people are concerned, even fearful about what the look, the feel, the tenet of this next chapter of the American story will resemble. To me, a television trivia expert, the answer is very clear. It’s…

"F Troop"

“F Troop” was an American situation comedy which was broadcast on the ABC Television Network from September 14, 1965 to April 6, 1967.

As the US Civil War was concluding, a private named Wilton Parmenter (played by Ken Berry) was sent from the battlefront to accomplish a task suitable to his capabilities: retrieve the laundry of an unnamed Union General (who looked suspiciously like Ulysses S. Grant, but was never specifically identified).

Despite his lowly rank, Parmenter was a part of a very important military family - all officers and all named for gods: his brothers Achilles, Hercules, Jupiter and his father, Thor. How he got saddled with the name Wilton is just one unexplained element of the series.

Because of Parmenter’s spring allergies during his fateful laundry run, he sneezed at an opportune moment, a commanding officer overheard it, assumed the private yelled “Charge!” and got his troops to follow along into what was, we were told, The Battle of Appomattox Court House.

Parmenter, Mid-Sneeze

Having bumbled his way into military success (and likely because of his good surname), he was awarded a command: He would become the Captain of Fort Courage, a military post out west, often assumed to be in or near Kansas, because of their proximity to “Indian Territory,” or what is now known as Oklahoma - Although it was suggested that it might have been three time zones from Parmenter’s native Philadelphia (as they played “Reveille” at ten AM instead of the customary seven AM).

As a commander, Parmenter was a no-nothing, a greenhorn when it came to leading, and additionally was a clumsy oaf, needing to consult his military manual at every opportunity. He oftentimes tripped or fell over every obstacle in his way, sometimes specifically because he was reading that manual!

When Parmenter arrived at his new post, he met his two non-commissioned officers: Sergeant Morgan O’Rourke (Forrest Tucker) and Corporal Randolph Agarn (Larry Storch). These two were the most crooked members of Fort Courage, running a sideline business called “O’Rourke Enterprises” and siphoning off military funding to help support it, all as part of their get rich schemes.

Sgt. O'Rourke and Cpl. Agarn

Also, O’Rourke and Agarn were responsible for fabricating a war with a group of local Indians, the Hekawi tribe, even though the tribe’s chief, Wild Eagle (Frank de Kova) was actually O’Rourke’s business partner! It was another method of guaranteeing a constant flow of money and supplies from Washington DC into the fort. They covered this deception with constant flattery of the Captain’s ego, continually brownnosing Parmenter until he forgot what he intended to criticize or examine.

Chief Wild Eagle

(As an aside, by today’s standards it’s difficult to miss the political incorrectness that the “natives” on the program were all played by white actors… de Kova was Italian American and even long-time comedians Don Rickles and Milton Berle both made guest appearances as Indians on the show.)

Milton Berle as a Native American

Additionally, the soldiers that populated Parmenter’s troop were among the most unprepared and inept of any in the army, making the people he was charged to lead the absolute worst to accomplish any job to which they were assigned. Examples: A Bugler who didn’t know how to play his instrument. A lookout man who was severely myopic. And a translator who could speak with the local tribes fluently in their native tongues, but either spoke no English or spoke it with an unintelligible German accent.

Dobbs: the bugler who couldn't play, even without an arrow in his bell

Finally, there was one of the townsfolk who dealt directly with the fort personnel: Jane Angelica Thrift, (Melody Patterson) informally known as Wrangler Jane, who ran the trading post in town. Wrangler Jane adored Parmenter and felt he could do no wrong. Practically at first sight, she seemed intent on a romance with the Captain, and though he always reacted flirtatiously back, he managed to keep her at arm’s length for the duration of the series. Young, blonde, intelligent and an accomplished businesswoman with a tough as nails attitude, Wrangler Jane seemed far more prepared than the Captain to be a leader.

Wrangler Jane - What a pistol.

Typical plots centered on Parmenter’s ineptitude, providing moments of slapstick and/or wordplay, some high-ranking official coming for an inspection of Fort Courage, causing O’Rourke and Agarn to cover their conflict of interest business dealings, some new scheme O’Rourke hatched up with the Hekawi tribe to make even more money but was likely as illegal as their previous plots, or Wrangler Jane and Wilton dealing with someone or something that disrupted their chaste relationship.

Parmenter, Jane and his always handy handbook

Yes, this parallel of a long-ago TV comedy won't really resemble the incoming governing body. How our reality will progress and where we will be at the end of it, none of us can say with any certainty. That’s why we have to laugh, we have to treat this fear with humor and love. It’s up to us, now. And that’s why “F Troop” does provide us with these final hopeful points:

First, Captain Parmenter was trying to be a good leader. Of course, he wasn’t prepared and he was an excruciatingly slow learner. So, he was taken advantage of by many of the people around him, most especially his sergeant and corporal, who were knowingly breaking the law for their own benefit and constantly did things permitting the deception to continue. Parmenter never took serious notice of his staff’s shortcomings. Instead, he just accepted them, which kept the fort functioning at a high level of incompetence. In other words, the Captain’s own personality traits allowed the worst to occur.

See? Captain Parmenter is paying attention just as much as he can!

But, perhaps the most important observation is that “F Troop” was cancelled after its second season, meaning that the American public tired of this exercise in futility almost as quickly as it began. When the time came, ABC filled its timeslot with a much more believable and much more down to earth show…

Sally Field in “The Flying Nun.”

This thinkpost was written for LJ Idol X using the prompt: Fear is the heart of love


( 41 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jan. 11th, 2017 08:52 am (UTC)
Yes, but I used to LOVE F-Troop! Thanks for the laugh, though, I needed that!

Also, the leader may have been inept but he was definitely not mean-spirited. I think maybe F-Troop was more like the G.W. Bush administration than the incoming one.
Jan. 11th, 2017 11:10 am (UTC)
I agree with you on the George W. Bush connection. Especially when you consider the war-profiteering old man who took advantage of his bumbling nature.
(no subject) - penpusher - Jan. 11th, 2017 06:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - penpusher - Jan. 11th, 2017 06:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - serendipity - Jan. 11th, 2017 09:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 11th, 2017 09:30 am (UTC)
it's a fiasco.
Jan. 11th, 2017 06:31 pm (UTC)
As there is nothing to do about it, I'm just hoping it'll have some entertainment value...
Jan. 11th, 2017 11:12 am (UTC)
I can only hope for a swift cancellation of the incoming administration.
Jan. 11th, 2017 06:32 pm (UTC)
That is the possibility... but we'll have to check the Nielsen ratings.
Jan. 11th, 2017 12:37 pm (UTC)
I adored F Troop! I wasn't crazy about The Flying Nun, though.

Now that you said it, yeah, I see the similarities. I suppose one could say the same for McHale's Navy -- they were a bunch of profiteers too.

I'm just sitting back and watching this fiasco of a supposed *administration* unfold. I'm really not a political sort so I let others more versed in it say what I feel.

Jan. 11th, 2017 06:39 pm (UTC)
I thought about McHale's Navy - where Captain Binghamton represented the United States public and McHale and his crew were the incoming administration. But the facts were, they weren't incompetent. In fact, they were actually better than competent because they were doing their jobs AND running their poker games and throwing parties without the Captain ever really being able to pin them down.

But I rejected it because the theme of the show was to admire McHale and his sailors for breaking the rules and tricking the Captain.

I am willing to give this a chance but based on the first Press Conference, I really don't know where we're going!
(no subject) - xo_kizzy_xo - Jan. 11th, 2017 11:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - penpusher - Jan. 12th, 2017 04:31 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 11th, 2017 02:58 pm (UTC)
I love this!
Jan. 11th, 2017 06:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much!!
Jan. 12th, 2017 06:57 am (UTC)
This was such a fun and crazy read I almost thought I wrote it. Cept I know nothing about this show, so it is squarely yours and it was wonderful and enjoyable.
Jan. 12th, 2017 10:16 am (UTC)
That's a fantastic compliment, so thank you!
Jan. 12th, 2017 09:47 pm (UTC)
I have only seen a few episodes and it was silly.unfortunately I do not see the incoming administration being anything funny at all. I see more resemblance to a 1930's German political movement......
Jan. 13th, 2017 09:32 pm (UTC)
Oh, trust me, I know... but I'm figuring when the handover actually happens and this administration is for real? The laughing is going to end pretty quickly, so I'm just getting it in while I can.
Jan. 13th, 2017 01:01 am (UTC)
Great post! YES! This is a very lighthearted way to illustrate what ineptitude we might be in for... I love what you did with it... :)
Jan. 13th, 2017 09:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks very kindly. I think if Trump's administration goes as well as F Troop, we will be very fortunate, indeed!
Jan. 14th, 2017 03:12 pm (UTC)
Very interesting! My husband has been saying, since the terrible election, that he has "hope" that Trump will prove to be a decent leader.

I tried to be hopeful too, but as he has appointed these made people to his staff, it has disappeared. I think, and I'm not generally a fatalistic person, that we all might not make it out of the next four years.

My husband said he doesn't want to live in fear of that. I responded that I'm not afraid. I plan to keep doing what I'm doing, giving my kids a great life, being a good librarian, making my patrons happy...But I'm not going to lie to myself about what's to come.

I hope you are right though, maybe he will be impeached fairly quickly before too much damage is done. However, was your mention of The Flying Nun to say his replacement isn't so hot either? Lol!
Jan. 15th, 2017 10:01 am (UTC)
What I think we are learning is that Trump is a textbook narcissist. That means that he will never state anything negative about himself or anything to do with him... and he will always inflate anything good he does into something amazing. Additionally, we have been noting that he attacks anyone who says anything negative about him, from other politicians to public figures to any member of the press. He is actively trying to prevent any criticism of anything he does by anyone!

In a way, that makes things easy: this will be one president who you don't have to listen to, because nothing he is going to say will matter. He will say one thing on one day, and something completely opposite, the next day... or as was the case in his first Press Conference, he said one thing that day and something completely opposite the same day.

There's still so much toxic waste swirling around with the whole Russia hacks and the lack of clarity about the election and his Putin commentary... it feels like some bizarre motion picture plot.

As for "The Flying Nun," if nothing else, it was a program that featured more women as castmembers than pretty much every other show on television at that time, combined! Even since then, there haven't been a lot of programs like that... maybe "Ally McBeal?" And that was about 20 years ago.
Jan. 15th, 2017 01:20 am (UTC)
Wonderful! I remember watching F Troop, and I love your summary. I thought this was great.
Jan. 15th, 2017 10:04 am (UTC)
Thanks so much... this was a bolt of lightning - it struck me right away and that's why I wrote it so quickly... and I probably would have written some sort of essay like this with or without LJ Idol!
Jan. 15th, 2017 08:22 am (UTC)
I definitely missed this show. I saw Star Trek in its original run, and possibly Gilligan's Island, but this show wasn't on my wavelength. Who can say about The Wild, Wild West or Maverick? They always seemed to be on, but could have been in reruns by then.

I certainly think we've already seen a few foxes appointed to guard the henhouse, and I expect there will be a lot of profiteering going on. I can only hope this show gets cancelled after one 'season' too. :O
Jan. 15th, 2017 10:14 am (UTC)
Because of how syndicated reruns "used to" work when I was a kid... people in particular television markets would have seen shows that other people in other markets wouldn't have seen at all... so I'm really not surprised you didn't ever see F Troop. Of course now there are cable channels dedicated to showing these reruns, but because of the small number of episodes and the fact that about half of them are in black and white, this show doesn't lend itself to reruns anymore.

Foxes in charge of the hen house for sure... thanks for your thoughts here... and hope that, if we're lucky, things will go as smoothly as F Troop!
Jan. 16th, 2017 05:30 pm (UTC)
Love this! F Trump indeed!
Jan. 17th, 2017 11:46 am (UTC)
That was the line that I couldn't resist! Thanks!!
Jan. 16th, 2017 10:38 pm (UTC)
I don't know, F Troop might be a standard too high for the Trump Troop to reach. Although if a nun did fly in to save us in the next couple of years I'd laugh so hard I'd fall down.
Jan. 17th, 2017 11:47 am (UTC)
All too true. It's possible that by the end of this, we'll all have religion!
Jan. 17th, 2017 12:31 am (UTC)
*thunk* You could sell this article. I'm astonished at how much work you put into this, how many overlaps and intersections you found and compounded. Amazing and thought-provoking work!
Jan. 17th, 2017 12:08 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! Watching TV reruns was my hobby through most of my childhood, so I'm just using my misspent youth as writing fodder!
Jan. 17th, 2017 10:57 am (UTC)
This was clever and funtastic! I have not seen F troop but found it hilarious enough to check it out. A great read. Thanks!
Jan. 17th, 2017 12:12 pm (UTC)
F Troop is a show that I think very few people would have seen, especially since more than half of the episodes were filmed in black and white. I'm just hoping that the new administration here in the United States will be more comedy than drama!

And thanks for your wonderful comment!
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