16 June 2006 | rcj5365
Twelve O' Clock High
This was a not only a thinking man's series about WWII but also one that had a psychological approach to the fatigue and emotional stress that these men had to face in the line of duty. This was one of the best if not the greatest television shows of its day that depicted the outcome of the challenges of the 918th Bombardment Group of the United States Air Force during the horrors of battle in WWII.
When "Twelve O'Clock High",premiered on ABC in the fall of 1964,it was like a show unlike no other since it was based on the classic 1949 war film that starred Gregory Peck. The television show was a remarkable achievement that lasted three years on the air from 1964 until 1967,and produced 78 episodes,with the last 17 episodes in color in its final season. The black and white episodes lasted only two seasons from 1964 until 1966,while the color episodes ran from 1966 until 1967(the 61 episodes were in black and white from 1964-1966;the 17 episodes were in color from 1966-1967,in its final season). "Twelve O'Clock High" was head and shoulders above its competition and it is ranked to "Combat!" as one of the most intense dramas to ever depict about the horrors and scars and emotional traumas in the line of duty,that was World War II. While utilizing stock war footage for bombardment and astounding dogfight scenes,the brilliant story lines really addressed the timeless issues of the warfare and the effects on some of the individuals who were in the line of battle both on the ground and in the air. Issues and subject matter like heroism and cowardice,and integrity along with compassion and commitment were the order of the day. And it was brought to life on a intimate scale.
It also made a huge star out of actor Robert Lansing as General Frank Savage. His character during the first two seasons of the show brought more depth and integrity to the character than any other actor I have ever seen and it shows in the earlier episodes of the series. With a beautiful soaring theme by composer Dominic Frontiere,the strong production values of legendary producer Quinn Martin("The Untouchables", "The Fugitive","The FBI","The Invaders")along with long time QM associates Charles Larson,Phillip Saltzman,and fellow executives Howard Alston,Adrian Samish,and John Conwell as well as the supporting cast of the series including Frank Overton,John Larkin,and Andrew Duggan. The series garnered rave reviews,and was poised for a long network run on the small screen. However,the network executives over at ABC stepped in to make improvements which killed it. When the program was retooled for the second season,Robert Lansing's character of General Savage was killed off.....reportedly his plane was shot down somewhere over in Europe in hostile German country(in a gripping second season opener episode titled "The Loneliest Place In The World",which aired on September 13,1965).
However,Paul Burke(from the 1950's cop show Naked City)was brought in as his replacement and from there the results to the changes really killed it. Paul Burke to me was never the right choice for the role and simply out he was not a very good actor. The show took even a major dive when the episodes were in color. When the show was cancelled in the summer of 1967,after struggling for two seasons with the new cast,the network downplayed this show just to ignore the fact the this series had promise after it received rave reviews and a Golden Globe Nomination during the first season of the series.