The Rat Patrol

Season 1 Episode 9

The Blow Sky High Raid

Aired Monday 8:30 PM Nov 07, 1966 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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  • The Blow Sky High Raid

    Episode 9 begins with the Rats awaiting the arrival of Lt. Winters in the deep desert. Winters is bringing a new type of explosive he has developed, one that makes "nitroglycerine as tame as a firecracker". These tennisball-sized incendiary devices are to be used to blow up a German radar station that is in the flight path of a planned Allied bombing mission (generally, flight paths simply went around known radar installations; that should all be part of the planning, especially in this case since it is explained that this radar station is at Fa'id and is the sole installation within 200 miles!) And Rommel has a whole armored division that has just been unloaded and sitting at the docks of Bizerte, just waiting to be hit by a high-altitude airstrike. Naturally, a low-level tactical airstrike (B-25s, which historically, were deployed in the Theater for such things, maybe?) would work much better, but I'll not quibble with High Command about this fact.

    Winters claims to have worked 36 hours on the devices, which are a blend of "plastic, thermite, touch of oil for lubrication"--light as a feather, but highly volatile and quite unpredictable (much like Troy himself!) Troy is skeptical that these pink balls will do the job, so Winters offers a demonstration; he gingerly takes one of the balls and walks into the open to explode it. Unfortunately, a pair of Dietrich's men are watching from a nearby ridge, and plugs Winters with a sniper rifle, blowing up the unstable device along with Winters. Troy quickly kills the sniper with a well-aimed machinegun burst (he don't need no stinkin' scope!) but the other Jerry gets away on his motorcycle to warn Dietrich about what's going on.

    Now the Rats have a problem, not being sure how to transport the boxes of devices to the radar station's location without blowing themselves up. The problem is that there is only one route and and the omnipotent Dietrich will have figured out the Rats' plan and blocked the pass, and the usual "we only got a few hours to get this done before the bombers take off" plot device is in effect. But wait! Moffitt, having pre-war hunted for fossils in the area,suddenly remembers a legend about a race of people who were destroyed by a flood and the possibility of a dry riverbed cutting through the mountains of which Dietrich would have no knowledge!

    So, the Rat Patrol carefully moves off to find this mythical riverbed, accompanied by the cool voice-over narration that appears in a few other episodes and stock footage of B-17's getting ready to take off. Of course, Dietrich has figured all of this out himself after he receives a report of the Rats with explosives, and knows they are heading towards the radar installation despite the fact his scouts also report the Rats are not taking the only known route.

    Dietrich also hears of the riverbed myth from a local native--how convenient that this deep secret suddenly pops up from a number of different sources all at the same time. The native relates that an old storyteller in the village of Al Mina Zafir knows many songs about these ancient people who lived in the area of the hidden riverbed, so Dietrich sends him off to fetch this old fellow.

    Meanwhile, the Rats are driving slowly through the mountains, searching for the riverbed and sweating out the bumps that shake the boxes holding the volatile explosives. I think I would have put all of the boxes in one jeep, and made Troy drive it himself, but I guess a person has to be crazy to be in the Rat patrol to begin with.

    The native returns to Dietrich; the old storyteller is dead, but he has brought along the fellow's great granddaughter, Selhim, whom every word has been passed down to. She's blind, but is quick to tell Dietrich that he is very handsome after feeling his face. Dietrich returns the compliment, and they go off "to talk" and, I reckon, to do some more feeling of each other.. After a few shots of the Rats bouncing around and grimacing at the lethal boxes, Dietrich and Selhim have had a quick "talk", so she shows him where the riverbed is located by drawing in the sand ("Here are my people. Here are the mountains. Here is the riverbed!") This abstract description is all of the info Dietrich needs, and he is off to the riverbed, having scored in more ways than one.

    Now, the Rats are lost in the mountains, not having the benefit of a beautiful and willing blind girl to show them the way. The bombers have taken off and will be in range of the radar in 2 hours, and Troy is plenty po'd at Moffitt. After a few harsh words, Troy decides to unload Moffitt's jeep and let him drive fast to find this riverbed. Moffitt quickly finds the riverbed, and brings back a rock to show Troy, apparently as some kind of proof that the riverbed exists (Moffitt claims that the rock is a few thousand years old; I'm not an archeologist myself, but I suspect that most ALL rocks are much older than that!) So, they are on their way through the riverbed, and notice fresh tank tracks in the mud. They now know that Dietrich is wise to their plan and waiting at the radar station for them (why Dietrich didn't just go to the radar station to begin with, instead of bothering with the hidden riverbed, I'm not sure. But, I guess Selhim made it worth the detour!)

    The Rats arrive at the station's location, and see that Dietrich's tanks are waiting. Troy has a plan, suicidal of course, but at least it's only his life on the line here. Troy walks up to Dietrich's forces, carrying one of the explosive balls in his hand. We know Dietrich is not too smart when it comes down to tactics, and he lets Troy walk right up to him, instead of shooting him at a distance. Now Troy has the upper hand, since it would kill both him and Dietrich if they shot him now.

    Dietrich is especially cowardly at this point, and agrees to let the Rats blow up the installation in exchange for letting Dietrich and his units leave first so no one will get hurt. Oddly enough, the Rats have in fact already planted the devices around the station without the Germans knowing about give the benefit of a doubt here and say maybe the explosives were planted while Troy was distracting Dietrich and his unit. So, Moffitt simply fires the jeep machinegun at the installation and it blows right up, including Dietrich's abandoned tanks! Next we see stock footage of the B-17s dropping their bombs on the target, mission accomplished all the way around. I'm not sure how Dietrich will explain all of this in his after-action report--he not only lost his tanks and the radar station, but he also is responsible for the destruction of an entire armored division at Bizerte!

    "Sarge," Hitch asks Troy in the last scene, "why did you let Dietrich go?" Troy just smiles and they drive off into the sunset.

    We know the is the Colonel Klink of the Western Desert campaign, and will win the war for the Allies!!!

    A fine, rollicking episode full of the usual unlikely situations that make this series so much fun to watch. The intercut narration and stock footage add a lot of quality, putting it up to the level of "classic episode".

  • Holy cow - what a horrible premise!

    The boys have to race Dietrich to find a secret riverbed in the desert. Why? Because they let a German soldier escape, and he told Dietrich of their plans. But wait - they couldn't possibly have chased the German, because they had 2 boxes of volatile explosives in each jeep. And of course they couldn't just take the boxes out of one of the jeeps so they could chase the enemy soldier and keep him from reporting back to Dietrich. That would have gotten them to the target much too easily.
    I have to admit, though - as Troy was walking up to Dietrich holding the explosives, I found myself trying to figure out how the Germans could kill Troy without getting blown up. Because they automatically knew that the little pink ball he was holding was a super-powerful explosive device, of course. But I really couldn't come up with a way in which they could get out of that particular situation. Unless they all left and then shot Troy, so that only Dietrich would die. But he's one of the stars, so that isn't going to happen. But that part, while on the surface it seems pretty hokey, is better than it seems.
    Overall, though, it was a below-average episode. I got the Season 1 DVDs for Christmas, because I never really got to see the show as a kid. I was surprised to find that the episodes were a half-hour each, and that the plots were pretty far out there, as far as believability is concerned. And it hurt my back just to see Troy and Moffitt standing in the back of their jeeps as they came over that dune in the title sequence. I hope those were dummies instead of real people! I can't see my chiropractor recommending that maneuver any time soon.

    And what's this about the bombers not being able to get to their target unless this one radar station in the middle of the desert gets knocked out? Just bomb the stinking radar station first! As it turns out, it wasn't that hard to destroy it - a few B-17s would have had it done in no time -and then off to the target they go.