McHale's Navy

Season 1 Episode 16

The Ensign Gets a Zero

Aired Thursday 9:30 PM Jan 31, 1963 on ABC

Episode Recap

It's time for the annual gunnery qualification, and everyone gets a passing score, except Parker. During his test, from the deck of the 73, as he tries to hit an aerial target with a 50-caliber, the guys all seek cover, for Parker is shooting everywhere except at the target.

All know that, if Parker doesn't qualify, Binghamton will use it as an excuse to ship him out. Knowing that they can't allow that to happen, McHale drops the hint that Parker's gunnery score might be changed to a passing level, then leaves the guys to do whatever might come to mind. Virgil has the best gunnery score of the Crew – An 89 – So, Gruber simply reverses the digits, giving Parker a 98, on the score sheet.

Later, when McHale reports to Binghamton's office, Binghamton congratulates McHale for having the highest gunnery scores on the base, and passes along his personal congratulations to Ensign Parker, for his near-perfect score.

McHale seems a bit worried, when he hears the score, perhaps thinking that The Boys might have gone a bit too far, and, as Binghamton goes on, for a while, about what a good shot he used to be, McHale takes the score sheet from Binghamton's desk, to have a look at it.

Shortly later, Captain Kittridge (Donald Barry) storms into Binghamton's office, without knocking. The arrogant Captain demands his supply order, and Binghamton, after angrily dismissing McHale – Who wants to hang around to see the 'fireworks' – Tells Kittridge that, if he would bring his ship into the harbor, it would be much easier and quicker for him to get his supplies. But Kittridge won't bring his ship into an "Unprotected harbor", and puts down Binghamton's fleet of PT Boats, claiming their inability to protect a much larger ship.

"I'll tell you," states Binghamton, in defense of his fleet, "A PT Boat, pound-for-pound, can outgun anything in the Navy!"

"Ohh?" returns Kittridge, sarcastically. "They're carrying guns, now? I thought you just played around with them, in your bathtub."

Binghamton counters with his new 'weapon', a young Ensign, "Who isn't even dry behind the years, yet", who can outgun anybody on that 'tin can' of Kittridge's.

Kittridge thinks Binghamton is suffering from 'desk fatigue', but Binghamton challenges Kittridge to a contest. Kittridge's best gunner, against Parker, and the stakes: Binghamton's prized ship's clock, against the wheel from The Clive – Kittridge's ship.

Kittridge agrees, and the time is set – 1200 hours (High noon), the following day, at the Taratupa dock.

"This…" says Kittridge, smugly, "…Will be like taking candy from a baby."

Later, on McHale's island, McHale and The Boys – Having been apprised of the contest, and knowing that Parker hasn't a Prayer – Discuss how much trouble Parker will be in, if he loses Binghamton's prized clock.

"Maybe Mister Parker not as bad as we think." Stays Fuji.

"Let's face it, Fuji…" says Tinker. "Chuck has enough trouble finding the trigger, let alone the target."

Gruber comes up with the idea of having Parker have some kind of accident, making him unable to compete, and Tinker suggests Parker getting his fingers caught in one of the 73's engines, breaking all his fingers.

That idea, of course, is quickly nixed, but Virgil soon comes up with the idea of his somehow taking Parker's place. McHale doesn't like it, at first, knowing that Binghamton had made the bet with Parker in mind as the participant. But, after some thought, he goes one better on the idea. They set up one of their 50-calibers in the jungle, near the dock, with Virgil behind it, and Virgil will shoot as Parker does. Parker would be a cinch to win, and he wouldn't even know that it wasn't his shooting that did the trick.

The next day, quite a crowd has gathered at the dock, to witness the contest. Parker is at his gun, getting 'psyched up' for the match, when Binghamton arrives. Parker soon pronounces himself ready, having figured his "Windage, and drift ratio".

Soon Kittridge arrives with his Ensign Dennison (Edward Mallory), against whom, Parker will be shooting. Kittridge introduces Dennison to Binghamton and McHale, then calls Parker over. Parker puts on a little 'tough guy' act, as he saunters over, and, when introduced to Dennison, shakes with his left hand, to avoid any possible damage to his trigger finger.

"You can just call me 'Dead-eye'" says Parker, to Dennison.

McHale wants to start the contest, but Parker puts him off, briefly, to figure his "Muzzle velocity rate of fall", during which time, Gruber is off to the side, making high-stakes bets with some of the Sailors from the Clive – Kittridge's ship.

But McHale overhears the exchange, and puts a stop to any betting, calling Gruber away, for a word with him. Gruber argues that he'd already made the bets, and that, if he calls them off, now, it will arouse suspicion. So, McHale reluctantly agrees, but puts a $50 cap on the bets, then reminds Gruber that he and Virgil should be in their positions. Gruber goes back to seal the deal, but for only $50, then he and Virgil head for their places.

Since the Kittridge team is the visitor, Dennison shoots first. He steps to the gun, Parker gives him the 'thumbs-up', and the target is called in. Dennison fires away, and winds up with a score of 82. Kittridge congratulates his man, then Binghamton wishes "Charlie" luck, as he steps to the gun.

The target is called in, and, as Parker prepares to shoot, so does Virgil. Gruber tells Virgil to start firing when he drops his arm, but, before he can do so, the two Sailors with whom Gruber made the bet, earlier (Patrick Waltz and Don Kennedy), step in, now armed.

"You lower that arm, Sailor," says the first Sailor, "And I'll break it!"

Meanwhile, Parker has begun shooting, and, of course, doesn't do too well. The spectators run for cover, as Parker gets wild, with the gun, and, worst of all, he shoots down the target plane. Binghamton and McHale watch in horror, as the Pilot bails out, and floats to safety, and Kittridge rejoices over having won the bet.

Binghamton angrily approaches Parker, who tries to explain that there must have been a sudden shift in the wind, which caused his shooting to be off. Kittridge laughs heartily, as he takes Binghamton's beloved ship's clock.

"Good shootin' Deadeye!!" say Kittridge, to Parker, as he walks away, with the clock.

Binghamton, is, of course, furious, but McHale tries to smooth over the situation, by quoting an old adage.

"Remember, sir…" says McHale, "To make an error is human… But to forgive… That takes somebody big."

But Binghamton comes back with a slightly altered adage of his own:

"An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and an Ensign for Alaska!"

McHale pleads with The Captain not to ship Parker out, but Binghamton will have none of it, and angrily orders McHale and Parker to report to his office, immediately.

Later, on McHale's island, McHale angrily asks Gruber and Virgil for an explanation. Virgil tells McHale about the two Sailors from Kittridge's ship, who had kept him from shooting.

Parker's transfer has been confirmed, and he's to ship out on Kittridge's ship – The Clive – That afternoon. McHale and The Boys brainstorm, to try to figure out a way to save their XO, and Christy suggests that there might be a way to arrange a re-match. But McHale comes back with the fact that it would be tough to even find someone to fly the target plane.

Just then, the two Sailors with whom Gruber had made the bet, earlier, show up, demanding to be paid. Gruber tries to get The Skipper to cover for him, but McHale sternly orders him to go out, and face the music.

Gruber heads out, and McHale follows. Gruber takes the 2 Sailors to his hut, where he tries to pay them off with Japanese war souvenirs, including a Jap Pilot's uniform, and a wing-tip, supposedly from a Jap Zero, "Shot down in one of the most famous battles of the war". But the two Swabbies turn him down cold, demanding cash on the barrel-head, and McHale steps in to order Gruber to pay up.

But, the flight suit, and the wing-tip have given McHale an idea, and, later, when McHale and Parker report to Binghamton's office, to finalize Parker's transfer to the Aleutians, Binghamton becomes suspicious when McHale doesn't seem concerned that he's about to lose his XO. When McHale offers to leave, immediately, to ferry Parker out to The Clive, which is anchored in the harbor, Binghamton goes along, to make sure there's no "hanky panky".

Later, as the 73 makes it's way out to the harbor, McHale crosses his fingers, then calls "Battle stations!"

"Enemy aircraft!" adds McHale. "Evasive action!!"

Binghamton frantically looks for the bandit, but doesn't see anything. McHale points out that the plane is coming out of the sun, just as Tinker comes up from the engine bay, and makes plane sounds on a bullhorn.

Happy takes a helmet to McHale, who forces it onto Binghamton's head, taking his glasses off, at the same time. As Binghamton frantically looks for his glasses, McHale calls on Parker to start shooting.

A confused Parker reluctantly mans the 50-caliber, not knowing what – If anything – He'll be shooting at, and starts blazing away, as Binghamton hits the deck, to look for his glasses. Tinker, then alters his sound effects, to make them sound as if the plane has been hit, and McHale shouts:

"You got 'im, Deadeye!!"

Meanwhile, Virgil and Gruber have brought Fuji up from below, in Gruber's souvenir flight suit, and Happy produces the wing tip.

"There he is!" shouts McHale, as Binghamton rises from the deck. "He's crashin' off our port bow!!"

As Tinker continues with the noises of a failing plane engine, McHale signals Virgil, who kicks a depth charge over the side. The charge explodes, and Willy pitches a bucket of water into Binghamton's face, as Fuji jumps into the water, and Happy pitches in wing-tip.

McHale then makes a show of spotting the pilot, and, as Binghamton whines about the loss of his glasses, McHale quickly produces them, claiming that they must have somehow gotten lost in the excitement.

Binghamton gets his glasses on just in time to see Happy and Gruber fish Fuji out of the drink. McHale then interrogates the 'prisoner', and, after a brief exchange, in Japanese, McHale translates for Binghamton.

"Why, that's amazing, sir!" says McHale, to Binghamton. "He already had your gold braid in his sights, when Parker shot him down!"

McHale orders Gruber to take the prisoner below, but, before he does, Parker stops them.

"Hey, wait a minute!" say Parker. "Hey, you know… He kinda looks familiar!"

As McHale looks nervously on, Parker removes Fuji's goggles, to see that he's wearing thick glasses, which obscure his identity. While Gruber hustles the 'prisoner' below, McHale diverts Parker' attention, by congratulating him.

"Well, thanks Skip!" says Parker. "It was kind of a tough shot. You know, there were times when I didn't even see that plane!"

McHale then tells Binghamton, that he'd like to put Parker in for a commendation. A grateful Binghamton has no choice but to agree, but McHale adds that it's too bad that Parker won't be around to receive that commendation. Binghamton reluctantly backs down, and tells Parker that he'll get another chance, and that he's tearing up his transfer papers.

"…I'm so happy…" exclaims Parker, "I could kiss ya!"

"Remember," returns Binghamton, somewhat angrily, "We're Officers! Shake my hand!"

When Binghamton offers his hand, Parker bends to kiss it.

"Shake it, boy!" says Binghamton, "Shake it!"

Which Parker does, vigorously.

That night, in McHale's hut, McHale is telling an old sea tale, when Parker comes in, to excitedly tell the guys that he's all unpacked. Even though he was never really away, McHale and The Boys gather round their XO, to welcome him back, and McHale gives him a drink, to toast his return.

Just as he's about to drink, Parker notices Fuji, standing nearby, and asks him if he has any relatives in the Air Force. McHale throws a nervous glance toward Willy, as Fuji answers:

"Me? Ohh, no."

"You know," says Parker, "I coulda swore that Pilot I shot down, yesterday, looked exactly like…"

"Ahhhh, well, you know how it is with the Japanese…" interrupts McHale.

"Yeah!" finishes Fuji. "You've seen one of us… You've seen us all!"
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