DVD Review: CPO Sharkey (The Complete Season 1)

Don Rickles used to go on The Tonight Show and joke about how he had a massive streak of pilots that never got picked up by the various networks. Rickles was a big star. He played the big rooms in Las Vegas. He was constantly guest starring on sitcoms including Get Smart. He became a fixture in the various Beach Party films. But somehow they couldn’t craft the right vehicle for the acid tongue comic until he tapped into his history. Rickles had gotten his start in performing while in the Navy. He needed to return to his watery roots. CPO Sharkey: The Complete Season 1 presents the first time Rickles got picked up for 15 episodes as the star.

CPO Sharkey (Rickles) is in charge of training recruits at a naval boot camp. Here’s there to whip these young kids into sailors of the future in the post-Vietnam War era. That lack of a major conflict allows the military humor to seem lighter. The men serving under and around Sharkey are racially diverse with various heritages. This allows Sharkey to unleash Rickle’s United Nations of sarcasm on them. There are plenty of jokes that wouldn’t fly in this era of twitter rage and online petitions to ban people from TV. It was easy to dismiss the show back in 1976, but with the state of current comedy, Rickles is still cutting edge. Nothing seems offbase besides tearing into a captain to their face.

Rickles doesn’t completely work alone. He has the giant Seaman Pruitt (The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh‘s Peter Isacksen) keeping a constant eye on the recruits. He’s got the innocence of Kenneth the Page from 30 Rock. Chief Robinson (Sledgehammer‘s Harrison Page) is Sharkey’s chief rival. The two love to give each other trash talk. They have the kind of racial discussions that would get MSNBC outraged at this former NBC sitcom. Page would eventually get elevated to Rear Admiral Stiles Morris on JAG.

The episodes are mainly about Sharkey whipping his recruits into shape. He’s like Sgt. Carter without having to deal with a constant Gomer Pyle in the barracks. Rickles plays to his comic strengths with his wit, eye rolls and facial expressions. CPO Sharkey: The Complete Season 1 has Rickles not ready to ship out since there’s a second season.

The video is 1:33:1 full frame. The transfers are medium since the show was shot and recorded on standard definition videotape. The images are soft on resolution. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The levels are fine when he tears into the fresh meat. The episodes are Closed Captioned.

The Tonight Show (3:35) is from the night Don Rickles broke Johnny Carson’s cigarette box when Bob Newhart was the guest host. Johnny returns the next night and storms on the CPO Sharkey set to confront Rickles. It’s gold.

CPO Sharkey: The Complete Season 1 brings back the special time when Don Rickles finally got a TV show on the air. He’s perfectly cast as the irritating boot camp instructor.

Time Life presents CPO Sharkey: The Complete Season 1. Starring: Don Rickles, Harrison Page and Peter Isacksen. Boxset Contents: 15 episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: May 19, 2015.

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