Don Rickles was in completely unchartered territory in the Fall of 1977. The legendary stand up comedian with a nightclub routine that roasted everyone found himself on the second season of CPO Sharkey. Up until this point, Rickles was always a pilot season king who could never get picked up. Now he had a show that NBC was bringing back for more. The character of Sharkey was tailored to fit Rickles. Both were Navy men with Rickles a veteran of World War II. Rickles unleashed his abrasive comic wit on the recruits instead of having to tone down his routines to fit a sitcom audience. CPO Sharkey: The Best of Season 2 contains six episodes from the sophomore outing.
“The New Captain” changes up the chain of command. Gone was the woman running the base and in comes an old Navy commander who was once in the sub corp. Sharkey claims he respects and understands Captain Buckner. Except the new leader isn’t impressed. He wants Sharkey to lose pounds or get drummed out. Sharkey must learn a dieting tip from one of his flaky recruits. “Sharkey Flies over the Cuckoo’s Nest” has him dropping by the hospital to get a physical. Except he’s committed to the nut ward. Are they really going to believe he’s in charge of sailors let along his faculties? “Close Encounters of the Worst Kind” has Sharkey doing his best to prove he can be a sensitive guy. Why? Because his girlfriend demands it. “Captain’s Right Hand Man” puts him in the position to assist Captain Buckner. Will he finally win over his leader’s confidence? “Fear of Flying” explains why Sharkey wasn’t in the Air Force. “The Used-Car Caper” wraps up the season with Sharkey having to hunt down a salesman who sold his men lemons on wheels.
What’s amazing about CPO Sharkey is that Rickles had actors in the show that could roll with his comic attacks. Harrison Page’s Chief Robinson can take and give lines that would never be allowed on NBC this season. Rickles would be seen as too outrageous to run for president with his observations about race, culture, gender and religion. Sadly for Rickles, NBC didn’t want to have a third tour of CPO Sharkey. Rickles took advantage his chance to go beyond a single episode.
Time Life presents CPO Sharkey: The Best of Season 2. Starring: Don Rickles & Harrison Page. Boxset Contents: 6 episodes on 1 DVD. Released: March 29, 2016.
Joe Corey is the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.