One in this anthology series hosted by Fred Astaire featuring different, often historically-based dramatic tales. This episode serves as a dramatic pilot for “McHale’s Navy,” the comedy series about an unusual Navy unit during World War II. The program begins with Astaire commenting on the South Pacific island of Taratupa, which became an “inferno” when it was shelled by Japanese artillery, leaving only a few survivors. At night, a few men watch as a mysterious figure parachutes into the ocean and then comes onto the island. Suspecting he may be an enemy soldier, they attack and subdue him, but soon realize that he is an American Navy Lieutenant named Durham, and they are hopeful that he may assist them in finally leaving the island. When he awakens, he says that he has orders for Commander McHale, but is told by Gallagher, the bo’sun, that he is elsewhere at the moment and that they do not do things “by the book” in their squadron anymore. Despite this, Durham plans to organize the men and “square things away,” and he is annoyed to learn that McHale is participating in a ceremony with the island’s natives. Suddenly, he and the others spy an enemy plane, which the men call “Nosy Nellie,” making one of its frequent flyovers, and they hide from it. When Durham goes to find McHale, he is shocked to find him having a bath with the natives, as is custom when dealing with the chief. Durham gives McHale his orders, and McHale is angry to learn that his squadron may be “reactivated,” as they were already decimated by the enemy. Durham remains determined to go ahead with the plans to rejuvenate the soldiers, however, and the chief observes that he needs to “calm his blood.”

Durham then meets “Plumber” Harris, who has invented a machine to help the natives wash their clothes, much to Durham’s disapproval. At his orders, Gallagher halfheartedly attempts to lead the men in exercise, but they are uninterested, and Durham demonstrates his hand-to-hand combat skills. He is further angered to learn that McHale is producing whiskey while on the island, stating that he has seen nothing but insubordination, but McHale retorts that he is trying to keep the men from going “island-crazy.” Just then, they are warned of a “condition red” situation and learn that a Japanese boat is approaching for a “weekly inspection.” McHale and Durham observe the boat’s approach, and when Durham confronts McHale about his inaction, McHale becomes enraged and nearly attacks him. However, he then admits that he is afraid of losing more men. Later, Durham orders a radio set up, and the men angrily ask if he plans to “cash McHale in” and get him into trouble, which he denies. They soon receive a message stating that they must evacuate, as another Japanese boat will arrive the following morning. As all of their boats have been sunk, they ponder what to do, and McHale soon gets an idea and allows “Nosy Nellie” to spot him on the beach. The scout plane reports back and sends a boat to the island, and the men scheme to steal it.

At night, McHale, Gallagher and Durham sneak aboard the Japanese boat and fight off the soldiers onboard. They decide to “improvise” and use their own guns aboard the enemy craft, and one of the other men, Jenkins, makes fuel for the boat, observed by the native chief. McHale tells Jenkins to hide their plans well and to trust the chief if anything goes wrong, and then apologizes to Durham for their previous conflict. Durham stays behind on the island to command, and McHale and the others depart on the boat. Soon they see another Japanese boat, and after “replying” to its signal, they take the risk of firing their own guns at it, and are soon able to successfully escape to freedom. Astaire closes the episode by commenting on its themes of democracy. Commercials deleted.


  • DATE: April 3, 1962 10:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:51:58
  • COLOR/B&W: B&W
  • CATALOG ID: B:83295
  • GENRE: Drama
  • SERIES RUN: ABC - TV series, 1961-1963


  • John Champion … Producer, Writer
  • Frank Baur … Associate Producer
  • Albert Aley … Writer
  • Bernard Girard … Director
  • Fred Astaire … Host
  • Johnny Williams (see also: John Williams) … Music by
  • Ernest Borgnine … Cast, McHale
  • Ron Foster … Cast, Lieutenant Robert Durham
  • William Bramley … Cast, Bosun Ward Gallagher
  • Bobby Wright … Cast, Willy Moss
  • Gary Winson … Cast, Christy Christopher
  • Steve Harris … Cast, Plumber Harris
  • Brian Elliot … Cast, Jenkins
  • Bob Okazaki … Cast, Japanese Officer
  • Mike Dugan … Cast, Seamen Number Two
  • Juano Hernandez … Cast, Chief Mamoru
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