Surf’s up, the drinks are ready and, oh, yeah, the Japanese are looking to blow them out of the water.

It’s part of life on “McHale’s Navy.” The first season of the ’60s TV show set in the South Pacific during World War II is coming out on a five-disc DVD set March 20. The show featured Ernest Borgnine as Lt. Cmdr. Quinton McHale and Tim Conway as Ensign Charles Parker, leading a band of misfits who spent as much time battling their superiors in the U.S. Navy as those in the Imperial Japanese Navy. During its run from 1962-1966, the show was nominated for six Emmys.

Before taking command of the fictional torpedo boat PT 73, Bornine served in the Navy during World War II — not that it actually prepared him for his TV role.

“I did everything in ‘McHale’s Navy’ that I couldn’t do in the Navy — like surfboarding behind my ship,” Borgnine said in a phone interview while preparing to record extras for the DVD.

Such escapades explain the Navy’s initial reaction to the show.

“The Navy didn’t like it at first. It was one of those don’t-call-us-we’ll-call-you,” Borgnine said. “And then one day I had a call from the Pentagon and I went in and had lunch with the secretary of the Navy, who said to me: ‘You know, sir, you are the greatest recruiter we ever had.’ Everybody wanted to join McHale’s Navy.”

Although the show is more than 40 years old and set in an earlier war, Borgnine believes today’s troops will enjoy the interplay between McHale’s “pirates” and the grumby Capt. Wallace Binghamton.

“Oh hell, they’ll get a laugh out of it,” Borgnine said. “Navy’s Navy any way you look at it, and the armed forces are the armed forces. They never change. There’s always that guy that’s too demanding and a bunch that are trying to put it over on him.”

Plus, younger troops might recognize Borgnine as the voice of Mermaid Man and Conway as the voice of his sidekick Barnacle Boy on the cartoon “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

The distributor, Shout! Factory, is creating a special package that will be sold exclusively at Navy bases around the world.

“It’s something that brings a little laughter, even to the tired troops,” Borgnine said. “God bless them. I hope to goodness that they enjoy seeing it. Believe me, although it was a lot of work, it was a lot of fun to do. I hope that our fun comes through.”

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now