Classic 1960's Toys
How the West was wacky!
F Troop was a comedy about the goofy doings of the cavalrymen stationed at Fort Courage, Kansas, in 1865. Ken Berry (later of Mayberry R.F.D. and Mama's Family) starred as Capt. Wilton Parmenter, who won his position as commanding officer after accidentally leading the charge at Appomattox (he was actually just sneezing at the time, and had really meant to call a retreat). It turns out that he is not the only square peg at the fort: in fact, it is a dumping ground for all of the misfits and losers that the army wants to keep out of sight.
Also on hand are Sgt. Morgan O'Rourke (Forrest Tucker, in his greatest role), and Corporal Randolph Agarn (Larry Storch, ditto), who - Bilko-like - are just trying to make an honest buck while staying out of trouble. Together these two run O'Rourke Enterprises, whose main means of income are the local saloon, the sale of firewater, and authentic native trinkets for visiting tourists. They accomplish these last two through an exclusive treaty with the local Indian tribe, the Hekawi. Although the Hekawi are ostensibly enemies, and must occasionally put on a show of fierceness, they are just in it for the wampum like everybody else.
F Troop was decent enough for a comedy of its time, but its humor was generally pretty dumb - not too different from that of its contemporary, Gilligan's Island; and it is for this goofiness that it is remembered today. Its secondary claim to fame is in showing Proud Native Americans as drunkards and wheeler-dealers, which is absolutely unacceptable to politically-correct busybodies today. Which of course is just one more reason to like it.
- Melody Patterson, who played Parmenter's ostensibly rough-hewn, buckskin-clad girlfriend, was only 15 when the show first aired. Go, Captain!
- Private Duffy was played by Bob Steele, a Western star of the 1930's who had his own comic book.
- Stories of the Cavalry were popular in the 1960's due to films such as Fort Apache, which featured John Wayne. The Western as a viable concept for television and film would pretty much die out in less than a decade.
- None of the Indians were played by actual native Americans. (So what else is new?)
- There are several plot similarities between F Troop and Dances With Wolves.