my favorite episode(s?) from a bunch of old TV shows.

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 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! ❤

Eva-Joy

19 thoughts on “my favorite episode(s?) from a bunch of old TV shows.

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  1. PS – Oooo…This just popped into my head, and I can’t believe I didn’t think of it earlier. 😀 To me, the single best episode of any show ever is Season 1, Episode 7 of WKRP in Cincinnati – “Turkeys Away”! I don’t even care for the rest of the series, but this episode is absolute comedic perfection! 😀 The full episode is not available on YouTube (only clips – including the hilarious climax). I think it stands on its own pretty well (if you’ve never seen the show before, you’ll eventually find out everything you need to know), and even the climax works on its own all by itself (in fact, I discovered the episode from one of those “Top 10 Best…” compilation shows – I believe the climax was all it showed, and that was fantastic enough for me to seek out the whole thing…It was ranked the #2 best Thanksgiving episode, by the way) – but it’s even better when you have the episode’s worth of build-up, one-liners, and priceless moments. Trust me. If you can, pay money for it. (You can buy the episode by itself on Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, and maybe other places, too.) I won’t say that about much – so that shows you how highly I think of this one! 😀 It’s “lightning in a bottle” magic. I could watch it on repeat and enjoy it just as much every time! 😀 That clip special may have ranked it #2 of all Thanksgiving episodes, but it’s #1 in the history of television for me!

    PPS – Actually the whole episode is on Facebook! 😀 In perfect condition, too! (Search: WKRP in Cincinnati Turkeys Away, and look for the full-length video. It’s posted by The Single Hilarity.) That’s probably your best bet to see the whole thing for free – which I highly, Highly, HIGHLY recommend! 😀

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      1. Yes! 🙂 I didn’t mean to overload you with suggestions; I just got on a roll. 🙂 But even though all my recommendations are sincere and worth your time, if I had to narrow it down to only one, I’d say – go for the turkeys. 😉 Seriously. “Turkeys Away” is 100% as hilarious as it seems. 😀 If you get the opportunity to watch it, I’d love to know what you think! 🙂

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  2. I love classic TV as well – and I am SHOCKED that I not only haven’t seen ANY of the episodes you’ve highlighted, but I don’t really watch any of these shows (with the exception of Bonanza, on occasion). 😮

    I guess I favor sitcoms, with The George Burns & Gracie Allen Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and The Bob Newhart Show being top favorites. (Of those, I’d say The Dick Van Dyke Show has the most single episodes that I revisit again and again; the first one that comes to mind being Season 4, Episode 9 – “Three Letters from One Wife” – because I know if I ever have a breakdown, it will be exactly like Dick Van Dyke’s! 😉 It’s on YouTube as well, in excellent quality…Well worth watching if you need a laugh!)

    I also like variety shows (The Carol Burnett Show, some of The Dean Martin Show, and I’d say even The Muppet Show and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson qualify). And I’ll watch a wide range of episodic dramas (including Bonanza) if I’m interested in the guest star. I love that you don’t have to follow every episode of those shows, as they really are like mini-movies – which boast just as fine talent and star-power as well!

    As for Bonanza, my favorite episode is Season 9, Episode 28 – “To Die in Darkness”. David Canary (Candy) said it’s his favorite episode that he’s in, which is what drew me to it. I wasn’t expecting much, because (confession:) I generally find Bonanza a bit too corny – but I was absolutely blown away by how good this one is! 😀 It definitely qualifies for mini-movie status, and the overall “lesson” (for lack of a better word) is a gut-puncher. The drama’s undercut a little because it’s a life-or-death situation – yet we know the show goes on, so it’s obvious everyone survives. But it’s such an incredibly well-told story, that doesn’t even matter. And it’s an award-worthy showcase for the guest star, James Whitmore. 😀 (It’s on YouTube, too!)

    For shows like that, I generally put in a little research and go treasure-hunting on YouTube and the other streaming services available to me. If I’m doing a deep-dive on somebody, I’ll look for as much of their filmography as I can, including TV guest appearances – so I end up watching a lot of random episodes instead of following a series from beginning to end. 🙂 My latest discovery of this sort is an episode of Rawhide guest starring…Dean Martin!!! 😀 You know I was deep into Dean last summer – but at that time, I couldn’t find this episode anywhere. Then I realized one of my local TV stations airs Rawhide once a week on Saturdays. I planned to record it, and I excitedly checked the listings to see where they were in the series – and, no kidding, I had JUST MISSED Dean’s episode! 😮 And at one episode per week, this channel wasn’t moving through them very fast. 😦 So, I’ve waited patiently for months, only to recently discover a channel that’s uploading the series to YouTube. It’s progress was slow (but not as slow as my TV station), so I’ve been excitedly awaiting the upload of Dean’s episode ever since – and, a few days before Christmas, it appeared! I considered it a Christmas present. 🙂 ❤ And it was definitely worth the wait! As a single episode of the show, honestly, I’ve seen better. But every performance of Dean’s (up to a certain point in his life) was nothing short of fantastic – and this is no exception (Season 7, Episode 6 – “Canliss” – and yes, it’s on YouTube. Hallelujah! 😉 It only appears in a playlist, but it is indeed there.) Another favorite Rawhide episode of mine (that’s in that same playlist) is Season 4, Episode 12 – “Twenty-Five Santa Clauses”, guest starring Ed Wynn. It’s a little corny, but it’s precious – and Christmasy! ❤

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    1. If you like sitcoms, you should DEFINITELY check out Get Smart and Gilligan’s Island! They’re both such great sitcoms. Hogan’s Heroes too! I think I’ve seen one episode of The Dick Van Dyke show?

      I should check out that Bonanza episode! It sounds great.

      GIRL. I totally have done the same thing, where I get interested in an actor and then I check out even the most random films/TV episodes starring them!!! I should watch that episode with Dean, and the one with Ed Wynn. I’ve only seen snippets of Rawhide.

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      1. It’s amazing how vast the world of classic television really is. That never truly occurred to me before your post. Just because I grew up with or discovered a show that has the label of “classic” doesn’t mean everyone has seen it. And there are clearly just as many classics out there that aren’t even in my orbit yet. So much to explore! 🙂

        Speaking of, I don’t think I have access to Get Smart or Gilligan’s Island right now. 😦 (Unless they’re on YouTube. I haven’t checked.) Hogan’s Heroes comes on a local station every weeknight. I’ll check it out sometime. 🙂

        Oh, I forgot to mention about Bonanza…Funny story: You said Adam was your favorite character. I guess every girl’s got to have a Bonanza man. 😉 I’m an only child, but I grew up close to my mom and her parents. (Think a Gilmore Girls type situation – if you’ve seen that show – only with a little less dysfunction.) They were all around the first time Bonanza aired, of course, and it was a big deal in the family. Adam was my grandmother’s favorite; Little Joe is my mom’s. They enjoyed watching reruns and would gush about the guys even then! (My grandfather, Papa, and I tended to snicker about them and the show.) A few years ago, I discovered David Canary, and since he played Candy and I wanted to fit in the Bonanza girls club after all these years, I declared he was my Bonanza man. 🙂 I actually think he’s mostly dull on the show, although he is handsome. But bless him, it was only because he was so new at the time. He grew to be a far more interesting performer later – and, of course, stayed just as handsome. 😉 Anyway, this ignited a discussion about Bonanza men, and my sweet Papa piped up said, “Doesn’t anybody like Hoss?” Lol. 😀 Gee, thanks for making me feel shallow, Papa. 😉 Actually, if there was a man as sweet and good as Hoss in my life, I’d like to think I’d snatch him up in a minute. (Dan Blocker was quite a good actor as well.) But, for all intents and purposes, Candy is still my official Bonanza man. 😉

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      2. Admittedly, I’ve only seen a few episodes of Bonanza, and all of them are from the earlier seasons (usually just season 1), unless I watched one or two later ones just for the guest star (you know how that works *wink*). So I don’t know who Candy is! I should change that (maybe starting with the episode of Bonanza you said was your favorite).

        Hoss is GREAT. I don’t think he’s often called out as someone’s favorite Bonanza guy (not with Little Joe and Adam to sort through first XD), but I do love him. He’s so sweet!

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      3. I think Candy was intended to sorta kinda be Adam’s replacement. (That’s what sparked the discussion in my family that I mentioned earlier. Adam was my grandmother’s favorite – so Candy was, like, the enemy. 😉 Because no one could live up to Adam.) He joined on rather late in the series (the episode I mentioned is from Season 9; that may have been his first). He had an introductory story in which he was very interesting to watch – but after that, he got terribly quiet and was basically relegated to the background. If I remember that interview correctly (the one that led me to this episode because David Canary, who played Candy, said it was his favorite), he said when he did his first episode, he wasn’t sure he’d be brought back. So he gave it all he had, because he had nothing to lose. But once he was brought onto this established show, he was so new to television (and acting in general, I think) that he got overwhelmed, and he basically put his energy into getting along with everybody, learning all the dynamics, and not making any waves. This made him less interesting on screen, which put him in the trap of not getting to do anything because he wasn’t given anything to do.

        But Michael Landon saw his potential and liked him – and he purposely wrote a juicy part for him in this episode to show what he could do. (It was Michael’s directorial debut on the show as well.) So it was his favorite episode because Mike gave him the chance to really act – but it’s my favorite because the story and it’s message are excellent (and a little because Candy indeed gets to show off). 🙂

        David Canary really came into his own after Bonanza, though. He’s probably best known for playing twins Adam and Stuart Chandler on the soap opera, All My Children. I got hooked on AMC one summer in middle school, and I loved Adam and Stuart more than the younger guys on the show! Once I was finally able to give it up (soap operas really are SO addictive!), I forgot all about him – without ever realizing the Bonanza connection. And I didn’t rediscover him until just a few years ago, through the musical version of The Secret Garden.

        Before I started working from home (and using classic movies as background entertainment), I’d find full-length Broadway shows on YouTube and to them listen through headphones. Since most of these homemade recordings had no visuals to them whatsoever, I wasn’t tempted to look at them, and I’d treat them like radio. Well, I was listening to a staged concert version of The Secret Garden one day (something tells me you’re familiar with the story, so I won’t worry about this little spoiler) – and when Ben (the old gardener) is telling Colin how his mother died, the guy had me literally fighting back tears. At my desk at work! 🙂 Most “Bens” are one-note comical to the point of silliness, but this one hit everything just right. He broke my heart – and I absolutely adored him. 🙂 Thanks to Wikipedia, I was so surprised to learn I was listening to David Canary – who not only played my beloved Stuart and Adam, but also Candy! When I put it all together, I decided, “Yep. He’s my man!” (much to my grandmother’s consternation). 😉

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      4. Haha! Your grandmother sounds sassy. XD David Canary sounds like a lovely person. ❤ And, wow, that's such a cool story about him playing Ben and making you cry! I love it when little connections like that crop up.

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  3. Hi Eva, I love reading your blog! “Combat” is my sisters’ and my favorite tv show (we’re all classic movie and tv buffs). I couldn’t pick a favorite episode; they’re all so good! Maybe any that revolve around around Lt. Hanley (my favorite character)! My sisters love Saunders. 😉
    Has anyone ever watched the short-lived 60s cop show “87th Precinct”? It’s really good. From an author’s perspective, I consider the scripts to be excellent. Oh, and “The F.B.I.” with Efrem Zimbalist Jr. And “Shane”, a short series starring David Carradine, based on the movie of the same name with Alan Ladd.

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    1. Ahhh that’s awesome! My sister’s favorite character is Hanley too. ❤ And I agree–it is pretty hard to pick a favorite episode! (I feel like there are episodes even better than 'The Hostages', but my love for Doc won out.)

      I haven't seen any of those shows, but 87th Precinct sounds especially good!

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  4. I love your choices! List of my favorites: Columbo: Suitable for Framing(Guest Stars Ross Martin from the Wild Wild West Series) , Perfect Strangers: The Pen Pal(Balki invites and ex-con to stay at their apartment without his roomate, Larry knowing),The Big Valley: Time After Midnight(Jarrod acts as prosecutor – even after being blinded!), That Girl: These Boots Aren’t Made for Walking(She sells shoes that fall apart when heat is applied), Laramie: Man from Kansas(Basically a Western version of Robin Hood), The Nine Lives of Elfago Baca: Pilot Episode(Based on a true story),All Creatures Great and Small: A Tiki Woo Case(The 2020 version) Bonanza: Joe Cartwright Detective(Need I say more?) The Virginian: Yesterday’s Timepiece/or Lady of the House(Both episodes have interesting stories so I can’t choose between them!)…maybe I should stop here before this post becomes a book?

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    1. I want to watch more Columbo! That Big Valley episode sounds amazing (especially as Jarrod is prooobably my favorite character). I haven’t seen any of these episodes, but they sound really good!!

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      1. Columbo is probably #1 in my list of favorite detective tv shows! All of these shows have an element of quality and story writing that is so sparse in the tv shows of today. We need more ’emerging’ writers/directors/actors/producers that actually ‘study the masters’ in terms of movie making. Jarrod Barkley is my favorite too! I wish he would have recorded an audio book of the Bible – he had the perfect calming voice for an audio book.

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  5. Gilligan’s Island! I’m not much for older TV shows (or even newer TV shows, tbh), but GI is one of the ones that I like. 😉 The ensemble is just so fun!

    Fun post idea!

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  6. I have the full Hogan’s Heroes series on DVD. In general, it’s a very entertaining show, but when it gets serious, it’s very effective. Don’t remember the Reverend episode specifically, but I do remember one subtly tragic episode about heavy water (involved with atomic bomb experiments), where one of the lead scientists is defecting to the Allies, hoping that nobody ever gets to use that kind of destructive power. Well … we know how that ended.

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    1. I think I remember that heavy water episode! I do like it when comedy movies/TV shows take a more serious turn, even if it’s just for a few minutes (or one episode). It’s a nice switch, that can make the comedy even better.

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