In case that title was a bit confusing, here’s what I’m doing in this post: I’m going to take several of my favorite old TV shows and then talk about my top favorite episode from each one. I feel like I don’t talk enough about my favorite classic shows (and there are several I love). So this post today will begin to rectify that!
COMBAT! – ‘The Hostages’
Saunders, Caje, and Doc are taken captive by a couple German soldiers in a town that had supposedly been cleared out. Saunders and Caje are held as hostages to force Doc into helping the Germans escape. Since Doc is my favorite Combat! character, it’s no surprise that this episode is my favorite. Conlan Carter got an Emmy nomination for his performance in ‘The Hostages’, after all–well-deserved too! Additionally, the main villain is absolutely chilling (I can never trust Mark Richman in other roles now, lol). And the plot is tense. Simply an excellent episode all around.
RAT PATROL – ‘The Chain of Death Raid’
It’s been aaaages since I last watched a Rat Patrol episode, but you can’t get much better than Troy and Dietrich being forced to cooperate in order to survive in a North African desert. To be honest, Rat Patrol is not the *cough* greatest show on the planet. 😉 But it is still rather a nostalgic favorite. And Eric Braeden/Hans Gudegast is pretty fun to watch!
GET SMART – ‘The Expendable Agent’
Choosing a favorite Get Smart episode was a little hard–partly because there are so many good ones and partly because I don’t have an intense love for any one episode. But the hijinks in ‘The Expendable Agent’ are very fun, and there’s a rather good plot twist at the end.
HOGAN’S HEROES – ‘Reverend Kommandant Klink’
Hogan’s Heroes is a really goofy, crazy sitcom. But occasionally, it moves beyond the goofiness to be genuinely moving and heartwarming. ‘Reverend Kommandant Klink’ is one such episode. A new POW is about to give the Germans important information. In order to prevent this, Hogan & Co. work things out so the POW can marry his sweetheart. And if that doesn’t really make any sense, it’s okay. It’s a convoluted storyline, like so many sitcom plots tend to be. What matters is that the heroes are splendid, the wedding is super sweet, and some of the dialogue is just plain hilarious.
GILLIGAN’S ISLAND – ‘The Producer’
The castaways workshop a Hamlet musical. It’s great.
WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE – ‘Secret Ballot’
I wrote an extensive blog post about this episode of Wanted: Dead or Alive, so I’ll send you over there. TL;DR – Plenty of character development, plot, and heartache make this episode a stand-out in an overall top-notch show.
THE FUGITIVE – ‘Nightmare at Northoak’
Richard Kimble enters a small town and ends up saving a busload of children + the driver from burning to death. The townspeople are hugely grateful to him, naturally…and then they find out that he’s a fugitive. Kimble is imprisoned, about to be dragged back to death row by Gerard. But the townspeople just might have other ideas, seeing as how Kimble saved the lives of everyone’s kids. ❤ I haven’t seen very many episodes of The Fugitive, but I can’t imagine there’d be many I’d like better than ‘Nightmare at Northoak’.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ‘Submarine’
THIS EPISODE. First of all, it’s hugely nostalgic. (Almost all of Season 4 is, actually.) But beyond that, Submarine is such a good M:I episode in general. To make an old Nazi tell them where he’s hidden tons of money, the M:I team make the guy believe he’s on a submarine, being taken back to Germany. The plot is legitimately tense and all the actors involved do a great job (including in-universe, with making the Nazi believe he’s on a submarine and all that). And the ending? ICONIC.
BONANZA – ‘Death at Dawn’
And now we come to the reason I wanted to write this post in the first place: so I could highlight this expectational episode. When I was growing up, there were two episodes of Bonanza that my siblings and I would watch over and over again. One was ‘The Abduction’ (we liked the novelty of the circus setting). The other was ‘Death at Dawn’.
Virginia City is being corrupted by a Big Bad who was originally brought in to keep peace in the mines, but who has since overstepped his bounds. One of the guy’s thugs murders a storekeeper and is set to hang for the crime. But then the Big Bad kidnaps Ben, saying that he’ll hang Ben if his own man is hung. What follows is a desperate search for Ben and then, as the minutes swiftly tick away, Adam having to make an agonizing choice: do what he knows to be right and effectively sentence his father to death, or capitulate to the bad guys.
Even if you’ve never seen a single episode of Bonanza, I have no hesitation in recommending you watch ‘Death at Dawn’. It is a fully formed, miniature western movie. Everyone on-screen is given depth and character development, whether it’s the Cartwrights or the one-episode-only characters. Adam in particular gets a chance to shine, as the decision-maker in the Cartwright family once Ben has been kidnapped. (That makes me very happy, since Adam is my favorite character on the show.) And Ben gets a couple Moments of Awesome while he’s a prisoner. All in all, it’s an awesome episode. And it’s free on YouTube!
Have you seen any of the episodes I talked about in this post? What are some of your favorite TV show episodes? Do let me know in the comments! ❤