Archive for March 22nd, 2018

by Sam Juliano

Though the satire of The Producers can’t be matched for the way it brilliantly and satirically pokes hilarity at worst calamity in human history, the 60’s television series Hogan’s Heroes, while not quite as outlandish, is still an enterprise that has made some uneasy and others downright angry at the subject employed for a situation comedy.  The show sets the grimmest of experiences into a hotbed of belly laughs, while still cognizant of the mortality of war.  The fact that this risky proposition managed to run for a remarkable 168 episodes was a testament to its stars, and humor to makes fun of stupidity and incompetence.  Stalag Luft 13 is a markedly successful Nazi Germany prisoner of war camp owning the bragging rights of no allied prisoner escaping beyond its barbed wire perimeter.  Within the shows character dynamic this success would seem to be attributed to the camp’s leadership, anchored by Camp Commandant Colonel Klink (Warner Klemperer) and Sgt. Schulz (John Banner).  But the truth is that anyone can basically come and go as they please.

Colonel Robert E. Hogan (Bob Crane) and his band of Allied soldiers are negotiating underground missions out of the camp.  Staff Sgt. James Kinchloe (Ivan Dixon) is in charge of communications, while Technical Sgt. Andrew Carter (Larry Hovis) is the chemist responsible for explosives.  Then there’s Corporal Peter Newkirk (Richard Dawson of Family Feud fame) who is the resident safe cracker, pickpocket and con man, and Corporal Louis LeBeau (Robert Clary), a chef and undercover extraordinaire.  It all adds up to an exceptionally effective team who are able to perform a nearly impossible mission in a half hour.  Beneath the Stalog are a complicated series of tunnels that lead to buildings outside the camp.  A few secret devices like the coffeepot in Hogan’s bunkroom that allow him to be a fly on the wall at important meetings, microphone bugs, and pulling the rug from under the most bumbling Nazis ever etched in fact or fiction are part and parcel to this dysfunctional dynamic, and even Hitler himself is part of the show as an off camera character. (more…)

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