The military provides the perfect setting for every genre of television and film.
Battlefield scenes are an ideal vehicle for action-adventures, highlighted by the grit and sweat of men at war, underscored with the sounds of war and military machinery in action.
Even in peacetime, shows with a military theme promote drama, including the pain of family separation and the need to live up to expectations of superior officers.
And the interaction of raw recruits with tough-as-nails non-commissioned officers can be comedy gold.
Here are Newsmax’s picks for the 10 best of all time, divided evenly between action-drama and comedy, in alphabetical order.
“Band of Brothers” was a 2001 HBO 10-part miniseries that received a 98% audience approval score from Rotten Tomatoes. It depicts a World War II unit called Easy Company, 2nd Battalion of the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, U.S. Army, and was based on the Stephen Ambrose book of the same name.
The hyper-realistic series begins with their training in Fort Benning, Georgia, through the Normandy D-Day invasion, and ends with the May 8, 1945 V-E day.
“It is doubtful that any war movie on the large or small screen has captured the varied experiences of ordinary soldiers better than Band of Brothers,” wrote Barry Garron for Hollywood Reporter. “It explains in large measure why this group of regular guys and others like them have come to be called the Greatest Generation.”
“China Beach” was based on the book “Home Before Morning” and centered primarily on the nurses at the 516th U.S. Army Evacuation Hospital in Da Nang during the Vietnam War.
It was nominated for numerous awards, picking up a Best Dramatic Television Series Golden Globe, as well as a Golden Reel Award, a Peabody Award, a People’s Choice Award, and a Best Actress Emmy for Dana Delany, among others.
“A mature, beautifully realized piece of drama, it shows little evidence of the neutering, sanitizing process that usually compromises television storytelling,” wrote Robert Laurence for the San Diego Union-Tribune. "’China Beach’ is "M*A*S*H" seen through a darker, bloodier lens.”
“Combat!” depicted a squad of American soldiers fighting German forces during World War II. It began with the D-Day invasion of Normandy, and then followed the men as they fought their way across France. It initially ran on ABC from 1962 to 1967 before it went into syndication.
“Melodrama, comedy, and satire come into play as Lieutenant Hanley (Rick Jason) and Sergeant Saunders (Vic Morrow) lead their men toward Paris,” pop culture scholar Gene Santoro wrote. “Under orders, Hanley keeps sending or leading Saunders and his squad on incessant patrols though they're dead on their feet and always shorthanded; replacements are grease monkeys or cook's helpers who are fodder, and everybody knows it. The relentlessness hollows antihero Saunders out: at times, you can see the tombstones in his eyes.”
“JAG,” an acronym for Judge Advocate General, was a U.S. Navy legal drama that ran for 10 years, initially on NBC, then picked up by CBS for the final nine seasons.
“Hotshot military lawyer Lt. Harmon Rabb Jr. (David James Elliott), does his own detective work in the employ of the Judge Advocate General’s office,” wrote Todd Everett for Variety. “‘JAG’ borrows from recent features ‘Crimson Tide’ and ‘Apollo 13’ in being jargon-heavy to help generate atmosphere.”
It received numerous accolades, including multiple ASCAP Awards for best series.
“The Pacific,” like “Band of Brothers,” was an HBO 10-part miniseries, this one airing on the premium channel in 2010. The memoirs of Eugene Sledge, Robert Leckie, and Chuck Tatum provided the inspiration for the series.
It followed three regiments of the First Marine Division as they took one Pacific island after another while making their way closer to the Japanese homeland.
“The Pacific” is “a brutal but eloquent story that’s finally less about how men fight and die than what happens to them when they fight and survive,” wrote James Poniewozik for Time. “It will show you how character and sheer, unfair randomness combine to produce cruelty or decency.”
“Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” was a spin-off of “The Andy Griffith Show,” and followed the adventures of the naive, happy-go-lucky title character as a recruit in Marine Corps boot camp, played by Jim Nabors, and Sgt. Carter, his hard-nosed drill instructor played by Frank Sutton.
The show's “excellence is due primarily to the chemistry between Jim Nabors and Frank Sutton,” wrote one viewer. “The writing was good too, but these pros made that easier because they could carry the load so effectively.
“Hogan’s Heroes” depicted Col. Robert Hogan and his fellow Allied prisoners of war at a World War II Nazi POW camp. Col. Klink, the camp’s commandant, thinks he runs things, but it’s actually Hogan and his men. They routinely throw monkey wrenches into German plans and rescue other Allied troops caught behind enemy lines.
As for Sergeant Schultz, Klink’s senior non commissioned officer, “I know nothing!”
“The cast was top notch and worked well together in front of the camera,” wrote one viewer.
“M*A*S*H” was based on the motion picture of the same name and is set at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) unit in Uijeongbu, South Korea, during the Korean War.
Although “M*A*S*H,” was described as a situation comedy and depicted the hijinks of the surgeons, nurses, and wacky support staff, it also showed an occasional somber, serious side.
The long-running CBS series had a loyal following, and more than 106 million fans tuned in to watch the capper, titled "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen" — a TV record at the time.
“McHale’s Navy” was set in the Pacific theater during World War II and portrayed the skipper and crew of a U.S. Navy PT boat, PT-73, based at the fictional island of Taratupa.
Although the zany, good-hearted crew loved to have fun, they always managed to get their job done harassing the Japanese while ignoring Navy regulations and protocol.
“After years of playing primarily dramatic roles, Ernest Borgnine really shines as the lovable con man Commander Quentin McHale,” wrote one reviewer for IMDB. “The supporting cast was also great, especially Joe Flynn playing his usual hot tempered authority figure in Captain Binghamton and Tim Conway playing the role that made him famous, the nerdish Ensign Parker.”
“The Phil Silver’s Show” was originally titled “You’ll Never Get Rich” and ran on CBS for four seasons from the mid to late 1950s.
It centered on the fictional Fort Baxter motor pool run by Army Master Sergeant Ernest G. Bilko, who’s always coming up with get-rich-quick schemes that involve his men but never seem to come to fruition.
“This is a classic TV series,” wrote an audience reviewer for Rotten Tomatoes. “This was confirmed critically with its winning the Emmy for Best Comedy Series, Best Actor, Best Writing. The cast is great, full of all the old comedians/character actors of the day.”
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