DVD Review – HOGAN’S HEROES – The Sixth and Final Season

     June 17, 2007

Reviewed by Jennifer Smith

Hogan’s Heroes (1965-71) ran on CBS for an impressive 6 seasons, for 168 episodes in total. Bob Crane starred as Colonel Robert E. Hogan, an American soldier detained in a German prisoner of war camp during World War II. Surprisingly, this show is a comedy, and maintains a silly and farcical tone despite its serious setting. This is the beauty of television from the 1960’s almost any subject can be made into a comedy that hardly changes over the seasons, its plotlines kept simple and amusing.

It is the duty of any American soldier taken prisoner by the enemy during wartime to try to escape, gather information, or to cause as much disruption to the enemy as possible. The premise of Hogan’s Heroes falls along these lines. The catch is, Hogan and the other prisoners have figured out how to escape from the prison camp early in their confinement, but decide to remain and gather German secrets and photograph documents for the Allied forces. They have befriended the guard dogs, and keep the bumbling Sergeant Schultz and the pompous, monocle-wearing Colonel Klink from knowing their secret.

Hogan’s Heroes are a jumble of French, English and American prisoners, all joined together in Stalag 13 to sabotage the German forces. It’s jarring for any new viewer of this show to see that the English soldier, Cpl. Peter Newkirk, is played by Richard Dawson, best known as the host of TV game show The Family Feud. The French Corporal helps to distract the German officers by serving them fine French or German cuisine, and the rest of the crew commit lock-picking, forgery, and even cross-dressing in their elaborate attempts to gather information from the Germans.

Two slim-case DVD cases with four DVD’s inside are packaged nicely in a box, but there are no extras such as documentaries or commentaries on this Sixth Season set. The last episode on the last disc, “Rockets or Romance?” makes no attempt to wrap up the series, or imply an end to WWII. The last episode continues much like all the others, with Hogan’s Heroes never escaping Stalag 13 prison. I suppose that in TV land, Hogan’s Heroes will always live in a kinder, gentler Germany, forever plotting against the inept Colonel Klink and his bumbling sidekick Sergeant Schultz.

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