SEVEN AGAINST THE SEA (MCHALE’S NAVY PILOT – RARE!) (ABC 4/3/62)
Academy Award-winning dramatic actor Ernest Borgnine first appeared as Quinton McHale in a one-shot drama called "Seven Against the Sea", which aired as an episode of Alcoa Premiere, an ABC dramatic anthology series hosted by Fred Astaire. It is considered the pilot show for the series.
During World War II, Lieutenant Commander Quinton McHale (Borgnine) is the commanding officer of the U.S. Navy PT boat PT-73, stationed at the Pacific island base Taratupa. In the late spring of 1942, the Japanese heavily bomb the island, destroying the base. Only 18 of 150 naval aviators and marines on the base survive. With Japanese patrols in the region too heavy for a Navy rescue mission, McHale and his men survive by hiding on the island. Assisted by the native tribes whom they befriend, the sailors live a pleasant island existence. After months of leisurely life, strait-laced, by-the-book Annapolis graduate Lieutenant Durham (Ron Foster) parachutes onto the island. His job is to assume duties as McHale's executive officer and help him get the base on Taratupa back into action.
Durham faces an uphill battle: The men have gone native. One man has started a native laundry service, and McHale operates a still, making moonshine for the men and the natives. In addition, McHale is friendly with the native chief and even bathes with him. When Durham informs McHale of his orders, McHale refuses to follow them. It is clear that while McHale is as loyal as any American, following the devastation the Japanese rendered on the island attack, he is reluctant to risk losing more men. His concern now is for their survival until they can be rescued, which creates friction between Durham and McHale.
When they get word that a Marine battalion is pinned on a beach, and an enemy cruiser is planning to attack the beachhead in the morning, McHale's attitude changes. McHale is ordered to use all their boats to protect the beachhead and the Marines, but he has no boats, since the Japanese sank them all. However, McHale manages to capture a Japanese PT boat patrolling the island. Surprising the men and Durham, McHale does not plan to use the boat to evacuate his men or the Marine battalion. Instead, he will attack and destroy the Japanese cruiser. He estimates that since they are on a Japanese boat, flying a Japanese flag, they can move in and torpedo the cruiser twice and send it to the bottom.
Additional cast included William Bramley, Gary Vinson and John Wright.
NOTE: This is a drama...do not expect the situation comedy that was later developed from this show.
1 DVD. Ratio: 1.33:1 - Full screen. Run Time: Approximately 55 min. Quality: 9
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