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To Set It Right

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"To Set It Right"
The Lieutenant episode
Publicity photo for "To Set It Right", featuring Gary Lockwood, Dennis Hopper and Don Marshall
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 21
Directed byVincent McEveety
Written byLee Erwin
Produced byNorman Felton
Del Reisman
Gene Roddenberry
Original air dateFebruary 22, 1964 (1964-02-22) (intended)
Guest appearances
Episode chronology
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"To Set It Right" is the 21st episode of the American military drama television series The Lieutenant, produced for broadcast on NBC. Written by Lee Erwin, it featured a guest cast that included Dennis Hopper, Don Marshall, Woody Strode and the acting debut of Nichelle Nichols. The series followed the lives of members of the United States Marine Corps stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. In this episode, after a racist altercation between Cpl. Peter Devlin who is white (Dennis Hopper), and Pvt. Ernest Cameron who is Black (Don Marshall), Lt. William Rice (Gary Lockwood) attempts to settle their issues by first arranging a boxing match and then forcing them to work together on a march. Notable about the episode are love expressed by a Black couple and frank discussions of surviving day-to-day in a racist world, something that was unheard of on television at the time.

The Pentagon, who had previously aided the production of the series, protested the depiction of the Marine Corps as having racist members.



The Lieutenant was developed in conjunction with the Pentagon, but following a series of plot points concerning racism within the military relations became strained.[1] The Pentagon was concerned with the depiction of racist men in uniform in the plot of "To Set It Right", and warned the producers that the airing of the episode could result in the production no longer being able to use the free equipment and extras provided by the Marines. In response, Roddenberry informed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who pressured the network to air the episode.[2] The assistance of the Pentagon was withdrawn,[1] and the series was officially canceled a week later.[2]



Donald Bogle wrote of the episode in his 2001 book Primetime Blues: African Americans on Network Television, saying that the episode "lost its nerve and ultimately undermined the feelings - the very strong, modern Black perspective - of its character Cameron". This resulted in the character appearing to be "one more angry young negro with unjustified racial hostility".

However, Bogle praised the interactions between Rice and Norma and said that this was a better articulation of the problems faced by Cameron than those explained by the actual character.[3] Bogle felt that although "To Set It Right" sought to address racial issues, it wanted to avoid upsetting its mainstream viewers.[4]

A videotape of the episode is part of the Paley Center for Media collection in New York, contributed by Gene Roddenberry.[5] It is also available on DVD in the collected episodes of "The Lieutenant".


  1. ^ a b Robb 2012, p. 85.
  2. ^ a b Gross & Altman 2016, p. 62.
  3. ^ Bogle 2001, p. 105.
  4. ^ Bogle 2001, p. 106.
  5. ^ "Lieutenant, The: To Set It Right (TV)". The Paley Center for Media. Retrieved September 1, 2013.