Updated: January 21, 2020
F TROOP PHOTO GALLERY #06
F Troop is a satirical American television sitcom about U.S. soldiers and Native Americans in the American West during the 1860s that originally aired for two seasons on ABC-TV. It debuted in the United States on September 14, 1965 and concluded its run on April 6, 1967 with a total of 65 episodes. The first season of 34 episodes was filmed in black-and-white, but the series switched to color for its second season.
The series relies heavily on character-based humor; verbal and visual gags, slapstick, physical comedy and burlesque comedy that make up the prime ingredients of F Troop. The series also plays fast and loose with historical events and persons and often deliberately parodies them for comical effect (such as with calling the Winchester 73 rifle the Chestwinster 76 rifle) There are even some indirect references made to the culture of the 1960s such as a "Playbrave Club" (a parody of a Playboy Club) and imitations of Rock & Roll bands (including singing songs written in the 1960s).
Currently reruns of the series can be viewed on American television through the Me-TV network.
F Troop is set at Fort Courage, Kansas—a fictional United States Army outpost in the Old West—from just at the end of the American Civil War in 1865 to at least 1867. There's also a town of the same name adjacent to the fort. Fort Courage was named for fictitious General Sam Courage (portrayed by Cliff Arquette), who has been in the Army for forty years. The fort itself is in the stockade style stereotypically found in most American westerns.
The commanding officer is the gallant but chronically clumsy and accident-prone Captain Wilton Parmenter (Ken Berry), descended from a long line of distinguished military officers. He is awarded the Medal of Honor after accidentally instigating the final charge at the Battle of Appomattox. Only a private in the Quartermaster Corps, he is ordered to fetch the commanding officer's laundry (with the inference that it is General Grant's laundry). As he rides away to get the laundry he repeatedly sneezes. A group of Union soldiers mistake his sneezing for an order to charge, turning the tide of the battle and "earning" Parmenter the nickname "The Scourge of Appomattox". His superiors, wishing to reward his action, promote him to captain and give him command of remote Fort Courage, a dumping ground for the army's least useful soldiers and misfits (in one episode, the Secretary of War notes "Why, the army sent them out there hoping they'd all desert"). Of the three commanding officers at Fort Courage before Captain Parmenter, two deserted and one suffered a nervous breakdown. He is also awarded the (then non-existent) Purple Heart after he is accidentally pricked in the chest by his commanding officer while receiving his first medal—"the only soldier in history to get a medal for getting a medal".
Much of the humor of the series derives from the scheming of Captain Parmenter's somewhat crooked but amiable non-commissioned officers, Sergeant Morgan O'Rourke (Forrest Tucker) and Corporal Randolph Agarn (Larry Storch). They, in league with the local (fictitious) American Indian tribe, the Hekawis—led by Chief Wild Eagle (Frank de Kova), are forever seeking to expand and conceal their shady business deals covertly and collectively referred to as "O'Rourke Enterprises". Initially, rations and pay were drawn for 30 men at Fort Courage, even though only 17 are actually accounted for (the other 13, according to O'Rourke, are Indian scouts who only come to the fort at night and leave before dawn). The pay of the fictitious scouts is apparently used to help finance the dealings of O'Rourke Enterprises. Although O'Rourke and Agarn try to take full advantage of Captain Parmenter's innocence and naïveté, they are also very fond of and fiercely protective of him, and woe be to anyone out to harm him. Parmenter also struggles to exert his authority outside the ranks. Very bashful, he tries to escape the matrimonial plans of his girlfriend, shopkeeper–postmistress Jane Angelica Thrift, known locally as "Wrangler Jane" (Melody Patterson), though he becomes a bit more affectionate towards her during the second season.
In the episode "Captain Parmenter, One Man Army", it is revealed that all of the soldiers (troopers) of F Troop have been at Fort Courage for at least 20 months, therefore they spent at least part of the Civil War at Fort Courage. They are so incompetent that when they are formed into a firing squad in "The Day They Shot Agarn" all of them completely miss Agarn despite standing only a few yards away from him. The most common running gag through both seasons of the series and is shown in every first season opening except for the pilot episode involves the fort's lookout tower. Almost every time the cannon is fired in salute, the lit fuse burns right down to the touchhole, then goes out. Someone, typically Corporal Agarn or Private Dobbs, then steps up and kicks the cannon's right wheel, which collapses and causes the cannon to fall to the right and fire the cannonball at just the right angle so that it strikes a support leg of the lookout tower bringing it crashing to the ground (along with the trooper in it). In the opening the cannon firing coincides with the line in the lyrics, "Before they resume with a bang and a boom". As part of this running gag an arrow hitting a leg support brings the tower crashing down and Parmenter catching part of a leg support of the tower with a lasso also brings it crashing down. For that matter just about anything brings the tower crashing down including musical instruments being played loudly. When the lookout tower isn't the victim of F Troop's cockeyed marksmanship the water tower is the next most likely victim of the running gag. By the way, normally a cannon salute is done with just gun powder and without the cannonball as the cannonball has to go somewhere when fired, so if it didn't hit the tower it would hit other things (which it does in the first episode "Scourge of the West" and destroys O'Rourke's very large stash of Indian souvenirs hidden in the NCO club).