What if Sgt. Bilko was in a different branch of the military?
The answer came in 1962 in the form of McHale's Navy, technically a sitcom, but, like another World War II-themed series that came after it, Hogan's Heroes, it was really a comedy-adventure series due to the elements of the occasional missions woven into the plot.
The series' pilot, though, was a drama, "Seven Against The Sea", which had aired a few months before McHale was rebooted into the sitcom we all know. The only constant was Ernest Borgnine in the lead as Commander Quinton McHale, as steady as anyone in battle, but, to the permanent consternation of his boss, Captain Wallace Binghamton (Joe Flynn), he was also running some rather shady operations on his private island hideaway.
McHale ran for four seasons (1962-6), and spawned two feature film spin-offs, as well as another sitcom, Broadside, which, sadly, lasted just one season (1964-5).
Oscar winner Borgnine was joined by Tim Conway, Gary Vinson (ex-The Roaring Twenties), Gavin McLeod (later of the Mary Tyler Moore Show & The Love Boat) and Carl Ballantine as part of his band of merry misfits. Post-McHale, Vinson would remain on the Universal payroll for one more series, but Pistols & Petticoats, for CBS, ended after 1 season. Flynn would later parlay his role into a string of Disney movies, and reunited with Conway for a short-lived CBS series in 1970. His last TV gig, before his passing, was a short-lived revival of the comedy game, It Pays to be Ignorant, in 1973.
Borgnine would later reignite his career with a dramatic role in Airwolf, co-starring with Jan-Michael Vincent.
Here's the intro everyone knows:
After three seasons of being based in the South Pacific, McHale and his crew were reassigned to Italy in the 4th & final season. With the series now in color as well, it was the end of the trail. Then again, World War II also lasted for four years.....!