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Twelve O'Clock High
The Outsider (31 January 1966)

Appearing as Lt. Harley Wilson

Broadcast 31 January 1966 on the ABC television network.

Synopsis by curator@jmdigitalscrapbook.com:

Poor Lt. Harley Wilson (James MacArthur) -- the quintessential 'outsider.' You know the type: there's nothing really wrong with a guy like him, yet everybody runs when they see him coming. His anecdotes are always painfully boring; his jokes stale and humorless; he just never seems to fit in. He never seems to catch a break; where others glide through life with seemingly effortless ease, everything he touches turns to lead.

As wingman for the fighter squadron escorting the bombers lead by Col. Joe Gallagher (Paul Burke), Wilson has been trying for over two months to score his first 'kill.' And it looks like today just might be his day. A German fighter all but nails Gallagher's plane, driven off only because Wilson is there firing away.

Unfortunately, the German fighter pilot veers too close to the Colonel's plane and in trying to hit the German, Wilson instead pumps several rounds into the fuselage of Gallagher's plane, severely crippling it. Tech Sgt. Sandy Komansky (Chris Robinson) is enraged when he discovers that the 'enemy fire' turns out to be ammunition of the type used by the Allies.

Gallagher somehow manages to land his plane safely and Sandy goes off in search of the idiot who so thoughtlessly endangered their crew.

Meanwhile, a proud and excited Wilson is trying in vain to find someone who can help him prove that he finally got a kill. No one else in the squadron saw him shoot at the German and no one, not even Wilson himself, can verify that the enemy he's sure he hit actually went down.

Disheartened, Wilson heads off toward the barracks only to encounter Komansky lurking around trying to identify the owner of the 50 mm round he pulled from the Colonel's plane. Not yet realizing his mistake, Wilson is over the moon when Komansky confirms that he can indeed verify Wilson's kill.

There follows a heated confrontation, where Komansky sarcastically congratulates Wilson for nearly bringing down the wrong plane and makes him a gift of the spent round as a souvenir. Wilson is left standing alone, once again a victim of his own apparent inability to do anything right.

Later, after summoning the courage to go to HQ and admit his mistake, Wilson is dismayed to learn that Gallagher and his own commanding officer, Major Zach Temple (James Callahan), have already found him out after watching film retrieved from wing cameras used during the battle. However, the decision has been made to minimize the event in order to keep up morale and prevent damage to good relations between the bomber and fighter squadrons, so Wilson receives nothing more than a verbal reprimand and an admonishment to be more careful in future.
Nonetheless feeling a need to try and make amends, Wilson quickly volunteers for a dangerous reconnaissance mission set to take place the following morning. Overcoming their initial misgivings in the face of Wilson's obvious guilty feelings and need to save face, Gallagher and Temple agree to let him take part.

The mission goes well and the much-needed information they sought is gained, but suddenly Gallagher, flying a borrowed fighter, begins to have trouble. With his engine on fire and his plane rapidly losing altitude, he has no choice but to eject.
While Temple, Wilson and the rest watch helplessly, Gallagher's parachute opens and he drifts slowly downward, apparently safe but well inside enemy lines.

Steadfastly ignoring Temple's order to remain in formation, Wilson makes a rash decision. He's pretty sure he knows where Gallagher landed and he decides to go after him.

Barely escaping enemy fire, Wilson manages his daring rescue and saves Gallagher. As they pull away from the German squadron, a disappointed Wilson tells Gallagher of his unsuccessful attempts at scoring a kill of his own. A grateful Gallagher assures the startled lieutenant that he may not have gotten the kill he would have liked, but he is being put in for a medal for the just-completed rescue.

Later that evening, Lt. Wilson is greeted at the local pub and declared a hero. For probably the first time in his life, at last he did something right. And everybody knows it. A sheepish Komansky even apologizes for his earlier tongue-lashing. Surrounded by those who formerly barely acknowledged he was even alive, the happy hero modestly tells reporters and other onlookers that he was merely lucky, but confesses shyly that it's wonderful to finally feel that everyone is his friend.

Will this incident provide the hapless lieutenant with the boost life seems to have denied him until now? Will his newfound status as 'one of the gang' last? Or will it all prove to be nothing more than a momentary blip, a tantalizing taste of what it's like to be an 'insider' before a likely inevitable fall from grace?

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James MacArthur

James Callahan, James MacArthur

James MacArthur

James MacArthur

James MacArthur

James MacArthur

Paul Burke, James Callahan, James MacArthur

James MacArthur

James MacArthur, Paul Burke

James MacArthur

James MacArthur, Paul Burke

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