27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2007
I must admit, I was counting the days until the estimated delivery of this DVD. The packaging and covers were already opened before I made it through my front door, and the next several hours were spent gleaming through all 26 episodes on the 3 enclosed DVDs.
I must say, I liked the second season of the Rat Patrol better than the first for several reasons. Foremost, the Germans appear to have spent their time wisely in the desert because they can actually hit the broad side of a barn now. There were at least 3 episodes where the Patrol's jeeps are the vehicles seen doing flip flops after being hit by enemy fire, and all of the Rat Patrol members get shot this season. Secondly, the series seems to have found its stride and matured more. Hauffman Dietrich doesn't just stand around with a frown on his face after being upped by Sergeant Troy, he's mad as hell and not taking it anymore. Although many of the snappy dialogues between the two are missing from this season, we get a deeper look into Dietrich's character even to the extent of discovering he is capable of killing one of his own comrades.
Along the same thread, the second season seems more "darker" and realistic when compared to the first. Both sides are definately "not ready to make nice" and the stress is showing. Troy's nicotine habit has noticably increased, Hitchcock's characteristic smile is seldom seen, Moffitt is apologizing more, and Tully actually disappears for four episodes, replaced by various stand-ins. Also, in spite of requests for translation of German in the subtitles, the powers-that-be have only added useless captions like "Speaking in German", "Speaking in Arabic", "Man gasping for air", okay, maybe not the last one, but don't expect any difference here. However, on the positive side, Tully's haircuts are now making him look like a twenty year old, and the orange hair dye is gone. There are also more scenes taking place by the ocean, more German and Allied villains to love or hate depending on your preference, and hardly any episodes so hokey that they can only envoke shaken heads and rolled eyeballs.
If you bought season one and thought it was great, you will not be disappointed with season two, although if you are it will probably be because of slightly fewer episodes and the fact there is no season three. We can only wonder what and where the series would have gone had it been renewed in an hour-long format as was originally planned for the next season. People have consistantly criticized the lack of character development in the series due to its half-hour episodes, but I got to know each character intimately. Whether that happened from watching all 58 episodes, appreciating the fine acting or a combination of both is debatable I guess. I just enjoy having a permanent reminder of childhood TV viewing days around the house now.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2008
The second, and sadly the final, season of THE RAT PATROL. Christopher George's real life jeep accident combined with less then stellar ratings contributed to the demise of the show. The 1960s war genre consisting of COMBAT!, TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH, MCHALE'S NAVY, GARRISON'S GORILLAS, and THE RAT PATROL was fast coming to a close. Only HOGAN'S HEROES survived to see the dawn of 1970s.
A recent book on the Mirisch Company also notes that THE RAT PATROL was a deficit production in that there were a lot of up front dollars invested in the first two years of the production that, theoretically, would have born fruit in the third season. Indeed, ABC Television was keen to order a third season of the show, but Mirisch and United Artists declined the invitation.
The North African action continues with Troy and his jeep teams frustrating the Germans at every wadi. Season Two is bit grittier with the Rat Patrol suffering jeep casualties and frequent temporary capture. The Germans, uniformed in their department store khakis, are finally up to their game in anticipating the patrol's activities. Captain Dietrich (Hans Gudegast a.k.a. Eric Braeden) ingeniously sets up elaborate traps for Troy. Unlike the first season where Dietrich's character only appeared in half the episodes, the restless German captain shows up in almost every show.
Despite his efforts, the half hour always concludes with poor Dietrich bested once again admist the smoking ruins of a desert base, burning vehicles, and heavy casualties. In real life this fellow would probably have been rewarded with an assignment to the Eastern Front for his troubles.
As with Season One, THE RAT PATROL is military fiction. It is an action packed western set in World War Two North Africa. If you evaluate the stories against historical works such as Rick Atkinson's fine AN ARMY AT DAWN you will be sadly disappointed. This is simply the story of good guys versus bad guys with lot of gunfire. As such the Rat Patrol is able to destroy German tanks with fragmentation grenades and explode halftracks by gunfire. Small arms fire that mows down dozens of German soldiers only provides an occasional non-lethal flesh wounds to members of the patrol. These guys lead charmed lives.
Without looking too carefully you will see some familiar MGM backlot sets dusted with sand to appear as if in the Sahara. In one episode the Rat Patrol takes on a German railroad depot with an exciting shoot-em-up around the rail yard. This was the same railroad set used in a two-part episode of COMBAT! In episodes such as "The Hide and Go Seek Raid" the Rat Patrol's activities exanded to more lush green environs as the team temporarily leaves the desert. In this raid you will also see some of the familiar MGM sets such as the stone bridge and surrounding buildings so often tread in episodes of COMBAT! Another episode was shot on the largely abandoned "European Street" so often fought over in episodes of COMBAT! Indeed, Gudegast/Braeden also stalked this street in an episode of the COMBAT! where he played the part of a German sniper.
In Season Two also look for additional familiar faces such as Howard Caine, famous for portraying Major Hochstetter in HOGAN'S HEROES, Bruce Glover, who four years later would appear as villainous Mr. Wint in James Bond's DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, and Dick Sargent who three years later would appear as the replacement Darrin Stephens on television's BEWITCHED.
Unlike the first season, in which half the series was filmed in southeast Spain, all of the second season was filmed in California. There are several episodes where despite the use of a wide angle lens, windshield glare of contemporary highway traffic is visible in the background. Southern California, even the desert, had its limitations.
The main drawback to THE RAT PATROL series is that each episode is barely a half hour long. Although this does move the story smartly along it also rushes each episode to the finish line. An hour would have been better. Indeed some of the television episodes would have done well as 90-minute television movies.
The DVD set is very high quality with the color better than was ever viewed on television sets during the series' original run. There are no special features afforded with this release. The DVD box graphics are slightly enhanced with cast photos superimposed over images other than the vehicles and hardware used in the series. For example, Dietrich is shown as if he is standing out of the hatch of a Sturmgeschutz assault gun with a Tiger Tank following in the background. As I noted earlier, military fiction.
35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2007
The 1950's and 1960's produced a lot of stories about special Commando
operations in the Second World War. Examples are "The Bridge on the River Kwai", "The Guns of Navarone", "Where Eagles Dare", "Force 10 From Navarone" and even stories involving the Royal Air Force like "633 Squadron". This series, "The Rat Patrol" was produced to take advantage of this interest. This series is based on real-life groups like the "Long Range Desert Group" who harassed the Germans behind their lines in North Africa. Although this series was made by Americans, it should be pointed out that it was the British who really developed Commando operations to a high degree. This was due to several factors, one being that Britain was traditionally a Naval power and did not have a large standing army, so they had to get the maximum out of the limited forces they had, thus they encouraged their commandos to be bold by giving them a lot of independence, and secondly, the trauma due to the high casualties of the First World War gave the British the incentive to try to damage the enemy in indirect ways and not just throw massed armies at them frontally. Thus, although these North African Commando groups were mostly British while this series was American, they included a British commando (portrayed well by actor Gary Raymond) into the Rat Patrol as homage to the real leaders in this field. What is important is that
we see the real-life-type dedication of the group, led by actor Chris George, to aggressively carry out their mission, almost without regard to the risk.
Regarding the series itself, I found the quality of the episodes improved
as the first season wore on, yet there were numerous problems. The half-hour format didn't allow many potential stories and characters to develop. In real-life, Captain Dietrich, their perpetual nemesis, would have been shot for cowardice on more than one occasion as he let the Patrol get the best of him even though his men greatly outnumbered them. In real life, much of the "German" army in North Africa was really made up of Italian soldiers, but we almost never see them. One of the members of the Patrol, Hitchcock, insists on wearing a bright red hat (I presume in order to give him "character"), whereas everyone else, on both sides wears grey-brown uniforms which blend in over the surroundings. It is comical seeing him peer over sand dunes with that hat which could be easily seen by the enemy! Because this was American TV, even though
thousands of rounds of ammunition are fired at them by the Germans, they are almost never hit, and if they are, it is never fatal, which of course, is not the nature of war (compare this with the more serious series "Combat" where Americans do get killed in the series).
Having said this, I find the series quite entertaining with a lot of exiciting stunt work, and although the
show is, as I said , not "realistic", the types of missions the show depicts were frequently true-life, and in addition to being entertained,
the viewer does get at least a partial idea of what the free-flowing
war in North Africa was like.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Though it only lasted two seasons, "The Rat Patrol" is still one of the best of the genre: a slam-bang thirty minutes of derring do and American-flag waving bravado that still holds up after four decades.
Like its initial season, the second one features the sandswept locales of northern Africa (actually Spain and southern California), crisp direction and storytelling, great music from composer Dominic Frontiere, and movie-like production values. Christopher George still leads his men as the brave and crafty "Sgt. Troy" while Gary Raymond (Moffitt), Lawrence Casey (the popular Hitch) and Justin Tarr (Tully) round out the squad. Hans Gudegast is equally effective as the "Nazi with a heart," Captain Dietrich.
If the show had lasted a third season, it's likely that Dietrich would probably have defected because he shows a softer side in several episodes from this season, sometimes even relunctantly aiding the Rat Patrol or the Allies.
Most of the twenty-six installments in this compilation are well-made with outstanding and inspired performances from the principals and guest stars.
Though the short-running time of each episode does not leave much time for personal relations about the characters, the viewer does learn that Troy has a brother ("The Field of Death Raid" with George's actual brother playing the part. We also learn that Englishman Moffitt had a romantic relationship with a French woman ("The Fatal Reunion Raid) and also loses a brother in "The Hickory Dickory Dock Raid."
Other outstanding episodes are the touching "The Love Thine Enemy Raid," the tense "The Truce at Aburah Raid," the truly exciting "The Hide and Go Seek Raid," and the thought-provoking "The Life for a Life Raid."
Guest star John Anderson is brilliant as a British general in "The Pipeline to Disaster Raid" while Michael Tolan is fine, playing against type, as a loyal Indian to English soldier Ben Wright in "The Fifth Wheel Raid."
No show about WWII would be complete with the stereotypical evil Nazi and this year there are many standouts: Phil Burns as an officer targeted for death in "The Kill at Koorlea Raid and " Charles Irving in the aforementioned "The Fifth Wheel Raid." Most chilling is Richard Davalos as an SS Officer that comes unglued and meets a most deserving end in "The Decoy Raid."
Inspired casting can be found in Jewish-American actor Milton Selzer playing an Arab father in "The Trial by Fire Raid." Fabrizio Mioni is quite good as a defecting Italian in what-could-possibly-be-called the show's sole "comic" episode: "The Never Say Die Raid."
Unfortunately, Dick Sargeant, however, is not believable as a Nazi posing as an American in "The Boomerang Raid."
The set has no bonus features but is close-captioned with English and Spanish subtitles.
It has a running time of 662 minutes on three single-sided discs.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2009
I never watched this show much when it was first broadcast. Like most households in the 1960s we had one television set and dad determined what we would watch. But I did see episodes from time to time and rather enjoyed the show. Now I can watch any episode at my leisure.
This show is about American and British commandos in North Africa during World War Two. They drive around in jeeps equipped with machine guns, harrassing the Germans and interacting with the native Arabs. The Arabs are merely background to the war effort. The German commander, Hans Dietrich, is portrayed by Eric Braeden, who went on to star as Victor Newman in the Young and the Restless soap opera. Christopher George, Sergeant Troy, also had a movie career beyond Rat Patrol. So there is talent among the players.
But Rat Patrol isn't really about complicated storylines. These guys are content to shoot everything in sight. They occassionally demonstrate their human sides as the Germans and Americans call a truce to rescue an Arab girl from a well, or the Rat Patrol accidentally shoots an attractive German nurse and bring her to a German field hospital, but these scnese are not as important as the glorification of the war. Remember, this is in the period that Hollywood appreciated World War Two. Hogan's Heroes and McHale's Navy were on television. Patton, The Longest Day, and Tora, Tora, Tora were among the feature films on the big screen. America was struggling with Vietnam and Hollywood did its part to show Americans who were not afraid to go to war.
All in all these shows have entertainment value if you don't expect too much from a TV show. I doubt anything like these shows will be produced in the near future, but there was a time in our popular culture that was not afraid to put war on primetime television.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The second and final season of The Rat Patrol, contains twenty six tension filled, action-packed episodes featuring the team of Sergeant Sam Troy (Christopher George), Sergeant Jack Moffitt (Gary Raymond), and privates Mark Hitchcock (Lawrence Casey) and Tully Pettigrew (Justin Tarr). Travelling across the desert sands of North Africa, in a pair of jeeps armed with fifty caliber machine guns, the Rat Patrol engage the forces of Germany's Afrika Korps, in a series of daring hit and run raids.
There are few idle moments in this half hour wartime drama, that focuses squarely on the mission at hand. Often, some kind of crisis will arise that briefly slows things down, setting the stage for an exciting and often explosive conclusion. It is a simple but effective formula, that works time and again. Created by Tom Gries, The Rat Patrol is not big on sentimentality. There is death and tragedy, but it simply isn't dwelt upon, and character development isn't very deep. There are a couple of forays into personal lives, but romance and small talk is not what the series writers are very adept at.
In the first season, about half the episodes were filmed in Spain, and featured some spectacular scenes in the desert, and other Spanish locales. The opening title sequence, features some examples, opening with thrilling images of jeeps flying over a sand dune (and a stuntman almost breaking his neck from whiplash), and a tremendous wide aerial shot of the jeeps racing across the desert, all to Dominic Frontiere's magnificent theme music. The second season was filmed in California, and while the geography of the desert is not the same, and cinematography may not be as breathtaking, it is often still very impressive. The large amount of shooting done on location, or on the studio lot, as opposed to a sterile indoor set, adds to the realistic look of the program. The staging and execution of many of the battle scenes is remarkably well done, and the stuntwork is first rate. There are many instances, but `The Trial By Fire Raid` is just one example of an episode with outstanding inspired cinematography. To save costs, battle footage was often reused, which required creative editing to produce acceptable looking results.
Although the level of entertainment is high, the level of historical accuracy is probably low. The writers did understand that two jeeps could not take on an army. There are some missteps, but for the most part the missions are credible, and totally outrageous situations are avoided.
The Rat Patrol, made Christopher George a star, but tragically an injury he suffered to his heart, when a jeep flipped over during production, ultimately contributed to his untimely death in 1983 at age 52.
Hans Gudegast (Eric Braeden) was born in Germany, and as Hauptmann Hans Dietrich of the Afrika Korps, he brought realism to his role, and dignity and character, to the opposing force. Without Dietrich, or the occasional guest star playing an officer, the Germans are mostly indistinct battle fodder. Dietrich's presence meant that the battle would be an honorable one. An ethical man, Dietrich was troubled by the fanatical side of Nazism. Eric Braeden is also well known for playing Victor Newman for more than twenty years, on the soap The Young and the Restless.
Whether it be racing across the sands under a blazing sun, with machine guns chattering, and sand spraying through the air, or surreptitiously creeping in the dark, preparing to ambush the enemy, The Rat Patrol delivers suspense and by the seat of your pants action, that looks and sounds fantastic on DVD. Dominic Frontiere's music is simply wonderful, and adds greatly to the enjoyment of the program. Any kind of bonus material would have been very welcome, but unfortunately there are none. The series is very highly recommended to fans of World War II action.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2007
I remenber watching this show as a Kid in reruns on Saturday afternoons. It is suprising how well this show holds up. You have to realize the show is historically inaccurate but is a tv show. The good Guys always win but the show has somewhat of a heart for a war drama. I recomend this show to anyone who is looking for a entertaining half hour and want to relive your youth. The only knock I have is that there are no extras on the discs just the episodes. I would like to know where the show was filmed? Where are the actors who played the Rat Patrol now? This show had to be expensive to make back in 60's with all of the explosions especially for a half hour show. Why was it taking off the air? I just would like to see some answers to those questions? Maybe someone out there can answer those questions? I would buy both seasons again and wish there was a season three!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2007
The Rat Patrol was one of my favourite TV shows growing up. I fell in love with both Christopher George and Hans Gudegast. I cheered for the Allies, but whenever Captain Dietrich's life was in danger, I prayed that he would not be killed. Although the Germans were supposed to be the "bad guys", I remember thinking that Captain Dietrich was "good". Now that I am (much) older and have had the chance to watch this program through adult eyes, I understand why I perceived Captain Dietrich as "good" and my opinion of him has not changed. On more than one occasion Captain Dietrich's humanity shone through as he put aside his duty as a soldier to do the morally correct thing, as in "The Truce at Aburah Raid" where he agreed to a truce to help save an innocent child, "The Violent Truce Raid" where he agreed to testify on behalf of Sgt. Moffitt to get much-needed medical supplies for his men, and "The Decoy Raid" where he saves the life of a neutral Swiss nurse.
This TV show is appealing to both young and old, male and female, back when it was first broadcast, now, and, I am sure, will continue to appeal to future generations. Each episode is unique and exciting. The only thing I did not like about the DVD was the lack of extras. Unfortunately, Christopher George is no longer with us, but Hans Gudegast/Eric Braeden most definitely is. And what of the rest of the cast: Gary Raymond, Lawrence Casey and Justin Tarr? An excellent DVD, but interviews and/or commentaries with one or more of the men who appeared in The Rat Patrol would have added considerably to this DVD and given us insight into the making of this remarkable show.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2010
OK, first things first. As a British kid in the 1960s, I loved this series, never missed it.
But, even then, I was aware that there was some major rewriting of history going on. The SAS and LRDG were the real life desert raider groups that did this sort of thing, and they were composed almost entirely of British and Commonwealth troops (plus a few French, Poles, etc.) No Americans.
And before someone trots out the obligatory "We saved your sorry limey asses in WWII" line, I am NOT denigrating the importance of the US forces in the war. The Second World War was ultimately won by the Americans and Russians, no arguments from me. But until Operation TORCH and the Tunisian campaign (a painful learning curve for the US Army), the Western Desert battles in Egypt and Libya were almost exclusively fought between British/Commonwealth forces and the Germans & Italians.
A similar distortion of history was perpetrated in the film U-571.
The thing is, there were SO many fronts and campaigns in which American troops fought with distinction, and which make great topics for action movies - The Pacific, Normandy, Italy, the Ardennes, etc., etc. I only wish that the film and TV makers could have stuck to them instead of implying that the Americans were winning the war even in theatres where they barely set foot.
"It's only a TV show" you may say. Well, yes, OK. But kids (and many adults) often get their only understanding of history from shows like this. And the truth is SO much more stirring and moving than the fiction. Just check out the great, GREAT "Band of Brothers" to see how it can be done.
on June 30, 2007
I haven't seen this since it was on T.V. in the 60's,... God I'm old! The begining always started with a booming voice "The RAT patrol! In Technocolor!" (I loved how the announcer always emphasized "RAT!") This show had what you needed, action, explosions, chases, guys who could accessorise in desert dress. Who cares about historical accuracy! They said, "Lets make a show with a lot of guns and movement!" It was the predassesor to the Tela-Tubbies, no actual food valu, just the creamy goodness of the Twinkies center. Entertainment for guys who thought jumping a jeep 50 feet off a sand dune with a .50 Cal. blazing away was COOL! By the way, the story goes that the man who performed that stunt, shown at the beginning of every show, knocked out every single one of his front teeth when his face slammed into the .50 grip... Something to look for. Why do I think it rates a 5? It couldn't take itself too seriously, so it didn't, and guys just aren't as cool as that anymore. Like I tell my wife, "The older I get, the better I was." This is the "A-Team" with DEATH!