This post is dedicated to
MediconDuty, who both have Black Sheep fic on A03. See also 214Squadron, a Tumblr devoted to the show and real-life characters.
Speaking of arrogant men....
I was SO in love with him, and by love I mean in lust as only a fourteen year old with daddy issues can be with a tough-as-nails, love-em and leave-em, arrogant bastard. When he was captain of the NBC team on Battle of the Network Stars and got all huffy and challenged Gabe Kaplan to a race to settle something, I was in a full swoon.
I knew about Wild Wild West and even Hawaiian Eye, but Black Sheep was my first REAL Robert Conrad show after I fell in love with the image in those commercials.
I think I started during the 2nd season, and although I eventually got to see all of it, the first time around, I didn't pick up all the awesome subtext and interesting points of the casting. Equally eventually, I read the book by the real Greg Boyington, which is actually fascinating, in terms of what happened after the period covered by the TV Show (his plane was shot down and he ended up in a Japanese POW camp) and then back in the states (alcoholism, divorce.)
However, the first time around it was just pure lust for Robert Conrad/Greg Boyington. Putting my adolescent wank-fantasies of being along in a tent with Greg on Vella La Cava, there is as I later figured out, so much to appreciate.
The main theme, that Greg is a father figure to the rest of the Black Sheep, is expressed through the casting.
Gutterman-played by James Whitmore Jr. The son of James Whitmore, who among other roles, is the guy who sings "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" with Keenan Wynn in "Kiss Me Kate." I always find it amusing to see how many episodes of all the procedurals I watch, he's gone on to direct, tons of NCIS among them.
Bragg-played by Dirk Blocker, son of Dan Blocker, who played Hoss on Bonanza...and looks EXACTLY like him.
Pruitt-played by Jeb Adams, son of Nick Adams. Nick Adams was also a close friend of Elvis Presley and therefore of Red West, who plays Andy Micklin. They doubled down by almost making his character the son of a famous fighter pilot. Although in retrospect I can ship Greg with almost all of them, I remember actually seeing the most tension between Greg and Jeb for that reason with whole father figure layover.
More fun casting-
Andersen-Played by John Laroquette-LOOKING VERY YOUNG----before he went on to play Dan Fielding on Night Court and shit-load of other stuff, including a House MD appearance.
Boyle-played by Larry Manetti-a few years away from Magnum PI.
As the resident stuffed shirts trying to keep our heroes from winning the war they way they want, Dana Elcar and Simon Oakland.
And in a way, the most interesting person in the cast-Red West as Andy Micklin. Elvis' bodyguard, member of the Memphis Mafia, friend of Elvis, co-writer of Elvis What Happened?, and somehow the complete embodiment of Andy Micklin, and his friendship with Greg is nearly a perfect on-screen friendship. (I will NOT sully it with the B-word.)
So after falling in love with the show, and being obsessed with Robert Conrad in his delicious sexual arrogance, there came the summer of 1978 and while on a teen tour, I drove the poor staff at the Universal Studios tour nuts, begging someone to tell me if the show had been renewed or canceled. Presumably they didn't actually know, since they were just theme park staff and not TV executives or anything. Someone did tell me it had been renewed, presumably just to get me off their case. They lied.
I came home and the new season started...and this was when the TV season was a consistent thing. Everything started in September, everything ended in may. Three channels and PBS. (Hey, kids, get off my lawn.) No BLACK SHEEP. I was not a happy camper. The next thing I saw Robert Conrad in was Centennial, which was a disappointment, because he wasn't being a typical Robert Conrad character, he was being a French-Canadian trapper with a beard and an accent. 14 year old me wasn't impressed. I then went through "A Man Called Sloane" before the height of my Conrad passion ran out, although I'll still always be enamored of James West, Greg Boyington and especially the arrogant bastard with the battery on his shoulder.