The Rat Patrol

Season 1 Episode 2

The Life Against Death Raid

Aired Monday 8:30 PM Sep 19, 1966 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • The Life Against Death Raid

    This 2nd episode of Rat Patrol begins remarkably similar to the 1st a German convoy. It's no surprise that the result is similar as well. In the previous episode, a team member was killed; in this episode, Hitch is seriously wounded by shrapnel. Sgt. Troy is no West Pointer, so maybe a superior officer could explain to him that it is insane to use jeeps to attack enemy armor columns. At least the Rats are getting better at it, as this time a German tank is destroyed (likewise, maybe Hpt. Dietrich should explain to his tankers that it is a good idea to button-up when in battle!) before Troy's jeep is burning and Hitch is nailed.

    The Rat Patrol limps away from the suicidal engagement, and finds a quiet place to help the ailing Hitch. Troy has Sgt. Moffitt attend to a dying man; of course, since Moffitt is a Doctor of Anthropology, there's not a lot he can do for Hitch, but he humors Troy with an examination anyway. Hitch needs a hospital, but they are too far behind enemy lines to make it in time for Hitch to live.

    Luckily, there is a German aid station just a few miles away, and so begins war-movie-stereotypical-plotline #5: have an enemy doctor save the wounded man's life. This is an especially risky ploy since the Rats have a bounty on their heads, but Troy has a plan!

    To sneak into the enemy field hospital, Moffitt commandeers an enemy ambulance and the team suits up in the enemy medic outfits. I suspect this violates several articles of the Geneva Convention, but I guess no one has war crime tribunals on their minds at this point of the war. We can't be sure what Moffitt has done to the poor ambulance driver or his orderlies, but Moffitt has the sense to bring back along the good-looking German nurse. She's not too happy about the situation, so Troy threatens her into being quiet about what's going on.

    Our undercover commandos have no trouble rolling right into the German field station and unloading Hitch into a tent for surgery. Unluckily, there is a daft SS officer who recognises them immediately as enemy soldiers; luckily, the daft SS officer seems to think everyone is an enemy soldier, including the German doctor himself (played by Ed Asner). This SS officer is certainly a long way from his unit, since there were no SS units deployed anywhere in Africa.

    Moffitt does all of the talking, and his German is German doctor suspects nothing as he prepares Hitch for the life-saving operation. Unfortunately, Hitch seems to done at least one silly thing while drinking with the boys back has a really amaturish tattoo on his arm that says "Fort Benning . 1942" which the doctor sees. Troy's pistol convinces the doctor to continue working, but the nutty SS officer bursts in with a machinegun. The doctor tells the squinty-eyed SS officer to not worry, that the situation is well in-hand and a lethal morphine dose has been injected into the comatose Hitch. All hell breaks loose with that takes out the SS officer with ether, while Troy punches and starts choking the doctor with his bare hands. Moffitt realizes the Doctor was bluffing and prevents Troy from committing another war crime to be logged in the after-action report.

    The doctor does his job and saves Hitch, but the ambulance is gone! Fortunately, there is a casket-laden truck nearby, and after stashing Hitch into one of the caskets, making the doctor promise to be quiet, and Troy making brief pillow-talk with the nurse, our team starts their getaway. The SS officer comes to and alerts the guards, so a few scrambling Germans get filled with lead from Troy and Tully as the truck speeds away. The Germans deploy a few halftracks and the chase is on (and here is one of the more artsy film of the chase through a twisted root poking from the good example of the sometimes surprising stylish techniques used in the series). Troy does, in this case, plan ahead--so, after unloading Hitch and Tully, Moffitt and Troy head back toward the halftracks, armed with ether-fueled molotov cocktails. With the accurate arm of Troy, the devices soon have the halftracks burning and the SS officer wishing he had stayed at the Russian Front with his unit.

    The team makes it back to friendly lines and groggy Hitch gets loaded into an ambulance, but not before mumbling about a "meeting the greatest chick" and "Sarge, who was there, you or me?". Troy advises him leave the nurses alone, listen to the doctors, and that he will "be back pushing his luck soon enough!" That's a fact, as long as Troy is in charge.

    The episode ends with one of the longest "driving into the sunset" scenes; sometimes the episodes ran short and were lengthened with shots like this, with the background music looped to the max.

    Not a bad episode, just somewhat predictable. Hauptmann Dietrich doesn't appear in this one, so that is a letdown. But Albert Paulsen does a good job as the wacky SS Colonel von Helbug, and Ed Asner as well. The guest stars really provide the depth in this one.