12 O'Clock High TV Series

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Some kind soul has uploaded all 78 episodes of 12 O'Clock High - might be useful for some winter viewing. Mostly the video quality is 'ok' - and the storylines/writing quality of each individual episode can vary considerably,but you soon get adept at spotting the real 'stinkers'. It is quite funny picking out all the 'wrong a/c' shots as most of the action is combat or stock footage. Robert Lansing is the Group Commander for the first series - replaced by Paul Burke for the 2nd and 3rd,the 3rd series is actually in colour :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_Q7...dPpeTJ2jqBsfrI
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It was shown on an obscure cable channel recently, and having not seen the series since it was originally broadcast when I was a kid, I was pleasantly surprised by It's overall quality and tone. Yes, the scripts vary...but overall all, not bad considering the use of war footage. It's said the Planes of Fame B-17 just taxied, never flew, for the series. In one episode they did fly a Mustang...In a then rare warbird scheme. In another early episode the Commander crash lands in France and he is rescued by the underground and flown to safety by a U.S. Army Beaver, with some added paint to make it look like a wartime scheme. Although the Beaver was (just) a few years too new, it was much better than it could have been (say a new Cessna or Piper). Scripts dealt with a surprising amount of historical stuff, In one Burgess Meredith played a civilian scientist working with countermeasures, another dealt with a pilot with a bad attitude because he was given a "pilot officer" warrant instead of the usual officer commission...which is true, at one point a small percentage of new pilots were commissioned due to a surplus. The shuttle raids were dealt with in a two-part episode, and a visiting general overseeing the mission from VIII BC HQ was played by the bomb group commander who led the actual raid. In other words, it wasn't all "Hollywood/Pinewood". When the series was produced, there were still a lot of veterans around, so perhaps the producers felt a need to get it correct.
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Yes thanks John - indeed some of the scripts showed a real depth of knowledge of the military mind/procedures and as you say - some of the storylines do follow history quite closely. I am old enough to remember it being shown on British TV but I had never seen many episodes due to the lack of recording facilities at that time . Did it used to be advertised as 'Dick Powells 12 O'Clock High' at some stage ???
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Originally posted by J Boyle another dealt with a pilot with a bad attitude because he was given a "pilot officer" warrant instead of the usual officer commission...which is true, at one point a small percentage of new pilots were
Yes it was 'Flight Officer' - a sort of inbetweeny rank which they gave to Sgt Pilots/Glider Pilots mostly to give them Commissioned status if they were captured and became POW I believe !
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Bazv No, Dick Powell had a separate anthology series..it was several years before "12 O'Clock High"...a bit before my time. Powell did like aviation films, he produced "The Hunters" about F-86s in Korea and starred in "The McConnell Story" about the Korean War Sabre ace. This series was produced at 20th Century Fox, makers of the 1949 film. It was produced by the Quinn Martin company...famous for 60s-70s series like "The Fugitive", "The FBI" and later detective shows like "Banaby Jones"and "Cannon" ...which I know was shown in the UK, I saw an episode..the only one I think I watched..during my first visit to the UK while in university. The first episode of the "12 O'Clock High" series used the basic story of the film, including some of the dialogue. It guest starred Paul Burke as a black sheep major with a bad attitude (his father was a high ranking general and he was mad at being assigned flying bombers) who's stuck flying "The Leper Colony". He made another appearance later in the first series and as you noted, became the group commander in series two. That progression of his character was very much in keeping with the message of the original film. ANORAK ALERT: As an aside, the series used a piece of incidental music, usually heard when they show the exterior of the group HQ or BC HQ...that is identical to the opening notes of the Star Trek theme...which followed by a year...despite having different composers and studios. There are various on line discussions about it. No one has a good answer on how it happened other than coincidence. I recall watching a couple of episodes with my father, a former B-17 copilot in the 15th AF, and he thought if was pretty good. Clearly it wasn't loaded with fiction like many military series. As I've always said, no TV series...police, doctor or whatever...is going to be accurate. So let's be charitable and say ANY film or TV project that exposes younger generations to the sacrifices of that generation can't be all bad (with the possible exception of "Pearl Harbour" :) ).
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Hi John - yes Quinn Martin was a well known name in the UK - I think we had most of those productions you mentioned. Thanks for the Dick Powell info - not sure what I saw vis a vis a D Powell 'Advert' and I assumed it had been aviation related but maybe just mis - remembering,Dick Powell was a fairly well known name over here as well. rgds baz