ABC launched Call to Glory with an heroic promotional effort during the Summer Olympics. The series, which chronicles the life of a reconnaissance pilot and his family in the early 1960’s, is frequently described as unabash­edly pro-American. Obviously, ABC hoped to cash in on the “New Patriot­ism” generated by the games. The show was an over night success as mil­lions of Americans turned with relief to a program which promised them a positive vision–not just of the military–but of a normal, main­stream family. However, the favorable reaction of the national press should have been a clue that something was wrong. The Christian Science Monitor called it a “tale of compassion and understanding,” while the New York Times discovered in it “the stuff of high drama.”

Of course, some reporters were afraid that ABC had sold out to the Pentagon. They should have known better. Despite the depiction of an essentially decent family and despite the favorable portrayal of the military profession, the producers of Call to Glory have injected their episodes with enough sugary platitudes to trigger in­sulin shock in the viewing audience. In episode after episode we are asked to believe that military officers in the 1960’s were dewy-eyed over John Ken­nedy and Martin Luther King and that Adlai Stevenson was busy saving the world for democracy. Still worse, the heroic Col. Sarnac is as calm as Ward Cleaver and as nonsexist as Alan Alda. It took just one episode for the Wall Street Journal to realize that Samac was only “a carefully concocted mas­culine ideal, humanized  according to Hollywood’s post 1960’s, post feminist, pacifist-but-looking-for-he­roes sensibility.” By November, enough people had watched enough episodes to make up their minds. Pre­dictably, the ratings started to slide. Still, ABC authorized the producers–who also gave us such wholesome classics as The Burning Bed and Risky Business–to film nine more shows to finish the season. After all, there are some things more important than money.              cc