McHale's Navy

Season 4 Episode 17

Fire in the Liquor Locker

Aired Thursday 9:30 PM Jan 04, 1966 on ABC

Episode Recap

Gruber and the guys are posing as Italians, and having a bit of success at selling their homemade liquor to the local GIs. But, they have to make a run for it, when Binghamton happens along, and catches them. They quickly make their way to the 73 compound, where McHale is preparing to travel to a PT Commander's Staff Conference, in Naples. When the guys come rushing in, McHale wants to know what their hurry is, but, before anyone can explain, he gets his answer, when hears Binghamton on his way. Gruber and the guys make a hasty exit, and, when Binghamton rushes in, he demands know the whereabouts of the Crew. McHale plays innocent, but Binghamton, of course, won't buy it, and barges into the tent, where the guys are all tucked into bed. Binghamton is incredulous that they're all in bed, in the middle of the day, and McHale explains that they'd just gotten back from a mission only a half hour before, and were all dead tired, so they hit the hay. The Captain has no choice but to buy the story, and, frustrated again, he orders McHale to get cracking to that Staff Conference. Later, followed closely by Binghamton, Carpenter carries 3 cases of the bottled moonshine into Binghamton's office. Soon, General Bronson enters, and, seeing the booze, wants to know what Binghamton is doing with it. Carpenter explains that the liquor is homemade, and was confiscated from a "Band of ruthless bootleggers". But the angry Bronson isn't interested in Binghamton's efforts to keep illegal booze out of the town. He first reminds Binghamton that the job of a Military Governor is "To look after the civic betterment" of the people, and, after offering a couple of examples – Such as, forming a PTA, or a Chamber Of Commerce – The General advises The Captain to become a more "Civic-minded" Military Governor, or else be replaced by someone who is. Later, as Parker and the guys bring McHale into town, to see him off to the conference, McHale sternly orders them to behave themselves, during his absence, and to try to do something constructive. After McHale and Parker step into Binghamton's office, Gruber suggests that Christy take the long way back to camp. When Christy asks why, Gruber returns: "The Skip just told us to do something constructive." He says. "So, we will. We're gonna find us some new parts, and construct us another still." While detouring through the town of San Marcello, the guys stop for a little scavenger hunt, and Christy and Virgil quickly find an old fire engine. Tinker wants to cannibalize it, and use the plumbing for the construction of the new still. But Gruber has a better idea: The fire engine already has most of the parts in place, so they make a few modifications, and construct the still right in the old fire truck. But Tinker comes up with just one small snag: How do they get through Binghamton's roadblocks, to make their deliveries? "Simple!" says Gruber. "That's up to you!" "Me?!" says Tinker. "You get this thing runnin'" Gruber explains, "And, we'll have the only still in history offering door-to-door service!" Later, Binghamton pays a visit to the McHale compound, and calls them out. Parker and the guys soon come running in, and Parker tells The Captain that they have a big surprise for him. But Binghamton isn't interested and immediately tells them of the new civic improvement project he's created: The Voltafiore Street Cleaning Department, that they have all 'volunteered' for. As Carpenter hands out the brooms, Parker protests, claiming that the Crew are already the Voltafiore Fire Department, and they can't hold down 2 jobs at once. When Binghamton asks what Parker's talking about, Parker explains that that was the surprise they had for The Captain. Binghamton follows Parker and the guys to the old engine, parked in the woods, not far away. Quite impressed, he quickly confiscates the truck for his Civic Improvement program, much to the horror of Parker and the guys. Binghamton quickly informs them that their services are no longer required, and that the new Voltafiore Fire Department will be comprised of citizens of the town. After the guys watch, helplessly, as Binghamton drives the truck away, Gruber confesses to Parker that he and the guys had turned the old fire truck into a mobile still, and that there are 20 gallons of moonshine in it's holding tank. Upon hearing that news, Parker promptly passes out, and falls flat on his back. Later, after his return from the conference, McHale is furious. Knowing that if Leadbottom discovers their rolling hooch factory, they'll all be in big trouble, he quickly decides that the only way to stay out of trouble, is to steal the fire engine back. Later, as McHale and the guys make their way into town, they walk right into the middle of a fire drill. Carpenter rings the bell, and several of the townsmen – Not to mention Chief Binghamton – Come rushing in, toward the fire engine. After all are lined up, with their coats and fire helmets on, Carpenter announces that they've shaved 2 seconds off their reaction time. Binghamton then inspects his motley crew of Firefighters, and announces that he's called General Bronson to come to town, to inspect the new Voltafiore Volunteer Fire Department. As McHale and the Crew watch, overhearing The Captain's announcement, Binghamton dismisses his Firefighters. Knowing that they'll be in big trouble, when Binghamton discovers the 20 gallons of booze in the truck's holding tank, McHale quickly comes to the conclusion that the only thing they can do, is somehow get to the truck, and drain that tank, before Binghamton finds it. Later, McHale approaches 2 of the volunteers, as they work at polishing the truck. He suggests that they take a little 'wine break', his treat, and the 2 take him up on it. As they step away, McHale signals the 'Voltafiore Street Cleaning Department', and in they come, under the direction of Ensign Parker, pushing their brooms. But, before they can get to the truck, Carpenter comes out of the office, and rings the fire bell. Binghamton comes out on the balcony, thinking that it's another drill, but Carpenter informs him that there's a real fire, at the far end of town. Chief Binghamton comes down, as the rest of the Fire Company drop what they're doing, to answer the alarm. Now with an even bigger problem on their hands, McHale orders all but Parker and Christy to head back for the base, and all head out. Meanwhile, Binghamton steers the old truck to the scene of the fire. His crew hits the street, and heads for the blaze. McHale, Parker and Christy soon pull up, and are horrified to see that the fire just happens to be General Bronson's jeep. They head over, as Binghamton begins to drag the hose from the fire truck, and McHale and Parker frantically try to stop him. But, despite their efforts, Binghamton douses the blaze with 100-proof fire-water, and the jeep explodes in flame. The furious General Bronson orders Binghamton to get rid of the fire truck, and disband his band of Firefighters. McHale sends Christy to drive the truck away, and offers The General a Navy jeep, for his use, and escorts him over to it. Then, with no fire truck, the men of the VVFD, promptly turn in their resignations, depositing their coats and helmets with Binghamton, as they make their exit. "Why is it me?" Binghamton says to himself, sadly. "Why is it always me?" Later, in the wine cellar, McHale and the guys are just finishing up a big dinner. All happy to have gotten out of the big jam they were recently in, the guys all happily declare that they've learned their lesson. No more booze, and no more stills. McHale rises from the table, and asks Fuji to play a little after-dinner music, on the phonograph. Despite the guys' protest, McHale insists on the music, and, when Fuji plays a record, it has a kind of 'gurgling', distorted sound. When McHale looks over the old phono, he quickly finds the reason for the distortion. A small still built into the bottom of the phono's cabinet. McHale is furious, but Christy explains that they were only making some after-dinner brandy. "After dinner brandy?!!" McHale shouts. "That's just what…" McHale pauses, softens, and after thinking for a moment… "…The doctor ordered." He finishes, with a smile, then: "Get the snifters!" And all happily prepare to have an after-dinner drink.
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