Double Exposure: Hogan’s Heroes (1965-1971)


Nova Clark, Editor-In-Chief

The 1960s were a prime decade for entertainment that simply wouldn’t be made today.

Such is the case with “Hogan’s Heroes,” a situation comedy series that centers around an international group of soldiers in a German prisoner of war (POW) camp at the height of World War II.

While the premise may sound insensitive at first, the show executes itself with a self-awareness that mocks the Nazi party rather than making light of their destruction. In fact, most of the actors who portrayed German authority figures in the series had Jewish backgrounds.

Although each episode has a unique storyline, the larger theme remains constant: the down-to-earth American colonel Robert Hogan (Bob Crane) and his barracksmates find various means to extract information from the Germans, all while eluding the buffoon-esque German commander Colonel Klink (Werner Klemperer) and his bumbling sidekick Sergeant Schultz (John Banner).

The running joke, of course, is that Hogan and his men are capable of escaping at any moment. Instead, they choose to remain at the camp to aid their allies via the fully-functional radio hidden in a secret room directly beneath their barracks — resulting in hijinks and plots that are so far removed from reality they become laughable.

“Hogan’s Heroes,” while more lighthearted, bears a striking resemblance to Billy Wilder’s darkly comedic wartime flick “Stalag 17,” (1953) in which POWs begin to suspect a German spy is lurking in their barracks.

While a modern equivalent of “Hogan’s Heroes” might be a little too crass for today’s audiences, a similar blending of humor with otherwise-grim circumstances has resurfaced on the big screen recent years: “Inglourious Basterds,” (2009) “Jojo Rabbit” (2019) and Susan Stroman’s remake of “The Producers” (2005) all share central themes of poking fun at Nazis.

Whether you’re looking for a comedy series with hilarious characters, absurd scenarios or historical significance, “Hogan’s Heroes” is sure to entertain.

*”Hogan’s Heroes” can viewed weekday nights at 10 p.m. on MeTV (channel 44.1)*