Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hogan's Heroes

I don't know why, but as a kid I didn't like "Hogan's Heroes". I liked other "stupid" stuff like "Gilligan's Island" and "The Brady Bunch" and "Get Smart", etc., but for some reason "Hogan's Heroes" always left me cold.

I remember watching it as a kid and not liking it and it got to the point where if it came on, I would listen to the theme song (which I loved) and then switch channels when the actual show came on.

What's also funny is that I liked Bob Crane and was saddened when he died in 1978. By then, he was doing various Disney movies like "Superdad" and "Gus" and overall was just a likable fellow.

When "Family Feud" debuted, I recognized Richard Dawson from the show.

I think what it was in my thinking as a child is that I didn't totally "get" the premise. I mean Schultz and Colonel Klink were not just stupid, they were SO STUPID that I didn't understand why Colonel Hogan and the rest were still prisoners, yet they were week after week after week.

At least on "Gilligan's Island", Gilligan was there to sabotage everything the professor tried.

On "Hogan's Heroes" everyone in Stalag 13 was intelligent and yet they stayed and stayed and stayed. For five long boring years from 1965-1971 they stayed.

Klink and Schultz on the other hand were so dumb, it's amazing they just didn't kill each other with their own ineptness.

This initial thought coupled with "Mad's" infamous satire of "Hokum's Heroes" solidified my opinions. In "Hokum's", the final scene shows the characters with shaved heads and striped "pajamas" cracking wise in a Jewish concentration camp.

So, now my dislike for the show was coupled with distaste.

So, why am I writing about it here on my blog? Well, recently I've undergone some revisionist thinking about this show, and it coincides with why I think the 1960s and 1970s were the best times for TV, especially sitcoms.

Today's TV is riddled with "reality" shows, so-so dramas that run too long (one hour and too many seasons and too many variants and on too many nights a week), and sitcoms that all seemed to be based at the workplace or the home with lamer "jokes" than were ever told on "Hogan's Heroes".

About the last two sitcoms I really liked in the past decade are "The Big Bang Theory" and "My Name is Earl".

In the 1960s especially, different settings were tried for sitcoms: islands, monster's homes, nunneries, NASA, secret underground lairs and concentration camps. And wilder premises were attempted like a nun that can fly, a car that was a man's deceased mother, cave men and space men traveling through time, and characters like witches and monsters and secret agents and superheroes and hillbillies.

By the 1970s, it was the writing that matured and there were so many socially relevant sitcoms that were truly FUNNY.

"Hogan's Heroes" falls into this greatness and for that I can revise my opinions and say that it was an incredibly good show...


Bishop said...

I didn't get HH either as a kid, but ended up watching a bunch of it when (oddly enough) I moved to Prague. One of my housemates had about 25 hours on VHS and at that point I found much of it hilarious.

Of note regarding the stupidity of Klink and Schultz. Werner Klemperer (Klink) was Jewish and agreed to play Klink on the understanding that the character never be able to win. (Wikipedia backs me up on this).

Oddly (same W'pedia article), he also played a Nazi in Judgement at Nuremberg.

Bishop said...

Looking further into the w'pedia universe, one learns that John Banner (Schultz) was also Jewish - of Austrian descent.