Have you ever seen that show? Hogan’s Heroes was a show with an interesting concept at it’s core. Could it be possible for an Allied underground sabotage group to exist in the heart of WWII Germany? How about if they were stationed in a Stalog? If this seems impossible, Bing Crosby Productions and CBS Productions put their feet forward in letting us see Hogan and the gang give it their best shot! AND hey – CBS even brought the show to us in full technicolor. (That was big in it’s day!)
The show was filmed in a comedic faction more so than say M*A*S*H, because of several things. One, it’s truly a comedy which just happens to take place in the middle of WWII. The Allies were always winning and pulling off their only-Hogan-could-pull-that-off schemes. It was way different than some of the other shows out there because there never seemed to be a statement or an underlying context to the story line of the week compared to shows like M*A*S*H, whose anti-war tones came out in almost each show. When one would tune into Hogan’s Heroes, it wasn’t a serious show, your one and only wonder was, “what impossible scheme were the Stalog 13 prisoners going to pull off this week” and “I wonder how many times Carter is going to cause an explosion in the tunnels.” Looking back at it, I don’t know everything about the times and the attitudes in the Hollywood tv sitcom world, but the show seemed to have a fresh concept that was completely original for the screen.
One possible reason for the show being the way it was could have been because or at least enhanced by the history of some of the show’s cast members.
Last year, I remember seeing a write up about the show and the people in it in a Parade insert (back in early July 09) After reading the article it made me want to know more about the show. It’s amazing to me that so many of the people who played in the show actually had backgrounds right in the center of the WWII events. Robert Clary,who played LeBeau, and his family were actually prisoners of war, and he was the only one to come out of the experience alive. John Banner, who played Sergeant Schultz, lost his family to the camps as well. The fact that he was able to play a part in the show is pretty awing. In fact, Werner Klemperer, who played Col. Klink (that’s with two ‘K’s.), spent time in a concentration camp as well. It’s said that when he was offered the part as Klink, he aggreed only to take it if and only if Klink was never able to suceed in any of his plans.
The show ran for six seasons, and if things had been a bit different, I bet the show would have stayed on the air a lot longer than that. The pilot episode seems to be the only one shown in black and white and when you watch the last episode of the show, there is nothing in it that would make you think you were watching the last one. I think that is the sad thing to me. I would have enjoyed seeing the end of the show, hopefully seeing the cast we have all come to love heading to England…and who knows, they might even have taken the owner of Germany’s number one toy company with them (In case you don’t know, that would have been Schultz) At least I like to think so. And who knows…what did Klink say? After the war he would like to be an accountant for Schultz? lol…what a thought.
Check out the series. It has been remastered and re-released on DVD (the first dvd release wasn’t the favorite, but I can’t recall why.). The re-release looks pretty good though. You can buy it at many stores or you might be able to check it out at your local bookstore.
Wow!?…did you see that? I think Hogan is signaling LeBeau to distract the guard…and is that Newkirk sneaking a pilot into the camp?
Oh, my. In true Schultz fashion I will have to say, “I see nothing! I know nothing! nothing!”