13 February 2003 | dave_daasnz
A remake of the BBC classic Dad's Army
The Rear Guard was a one-off, intended as a pilot for a series that never eventuated. It is based directly on the BBC sitcom Dad's Army, and the script is adapted from Dad's Army's best episode, The Deadly Attachment. The script by Jimmy Perry and David Croft was adapted by Arthur Julian for what he considered American taste. It didn't work.
Headed by Lou Jacobi, playing Sgt Max Raskin (equivalent of Sgt Wilson), and Cliff Norton playing Captain Nick Rosatti (Capt Mainwaring), the other troops were made up with Dennis Kort as Bobby Henderson (Pike), John McCook as actor Don Crawford (Walker) and Eddie Foy jr. as Bert Wagner (combination of Jones and Godfrey!). The clergy was represented by Jim Connell as Father Fitzgerald (the Vicar) and Arthur Peterson as Mr Muldoon (the Verger).
Also featured were Ronda Coupland as Marsha Wilson, and Conrad Janis as the U-boat Commander (originated in the BBC episode by Philip Madoc). And making up the ranks were Don Diamond as Foster and Claude Jones as Krupinsky. James McCullion played Colonel Walsh.
The original script was trimmed to the bone, and altered slightlyfor the US audience, and the acting was much less subtle than Dad's Army. But it was not too bad an attempt on Americanizing something so British as Dad's Army.
Made by ABC-TV it aired just once, on the 10th of August 1976. After that, ABC'TV disposed of their master copy, and it was thought lost for years.
I run the Dad's Army Appreciation Society New Zealand Branch, and while interviewing cast from Dad's Army, Colin Bean (Private Sponge) mentioned the American version. This was unknown to the society then (1997), so I set out on a hunt to find out about it. I searched for two years to find details on this show, and finally tracked down the late Cliff Norton in 1999 who found a copy in director Hal Cooper's possession. I was able to pass this on to Jimmy Perry and David Croft, the successful writers who created this, their only failure in many years as a partnership! They were elated.
Recently clips from The Rear Guard aired in the BBC special Missing Believed Wiped, about the recovery of two lost Dad's Army episodes.