HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Hogan's Heroes: The Complete Series
HTS Overall Score:72
Sometimes the classics really are the best. Sometimes they are ridiculously insensitive to modern ideals on race, gender, politics and familial relationships, and other times they’re MEANT to be ridiculous and over the top. That’s pretty much the case with “Hogan’s Heroes”, a show that was created in the mid 1960’s and running for a full 6 years with over 168 half hour episodes before it’s cancellation. Before I go into the nitty gritty details, be warned that the spoof wartime comedy show was never meant to be anything more than fluff entertainment for the time period. It never went out of its way to be realistic or show character development, but worked as a great way to pass a half hour every week it aired without having to pay attention to an ongoing plot. Still, after 6 seasons the show had run about as far as it could have possibly gone, so they ended it succinctly and very nicely. Will it ever rival another wartime show *cough*M.A.S.H.*cough* for its humor and drama? Probably not, but “Hogan’s Heroes” is one of the classic greats that rivals others like “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “I Dream of Jeannie” and “Bewitched” for good family fun without any strings attached.
I once got into a rather heated debate with a fellow internet critic as to the purpose of “Hogan’s Heroes” and our differing opinions on the show. I, for one, absolutely adore the goofy POW story and have a blast with every episode. He on the other hand vehemently disagreed and called the show “tasteless” and “abhorrent” due to the fact that it made fun of war time POW situations. There was no deaths in the show, no real plot development and it made light of the horrible situations that POWs faced in German prison camps. Not to mention the fact that they made the prisoners look like they lived in the lap of luxury while their masters were blatant idiots. What he said IS true. No one dies. No one is treated like a REAL prisoner, and the German overlords are seen as idiots. However I don’t feel that is negative in the least, making a show about the horrors of war mere 20 years after our own troops fought and died over there would have been received a lot differently. Humor is a great way to cover pain and heal old wounds, especially when dealing with the physical trauma that many people suffered in POW camps like Camp 13. The show was never intent on making an honest recreation of POW life, but instead loved to make fun of their captors much in the same way we had WWII plays and Broadway shows that made Hitler out to be a bumbling idiot and our soldiers as gods. It was a way to boost morale and laugh a bit at some of the situations that one brought depression and emotional anguish to people who remembered such things.
In that same line. Most of the German officers in the show were actually Jewish people. In fact, Werner Klemperer (Colonel Klink) and John Banner (Sgt Schultz) were both Jewish men who had either fled Germany themselves or their parents had when they were young. Both men signed on under the stipulation that the German officers they portrayed would specifically be nincompoops. With that in mind you can see their hilarious portrayal of the German masters is something that adds a little wink and a nod to the camera with their bumbling’s (especially Sgt Schultz and his constant mouthing of “I didn’t see anything!”).
The premise of the show is simple. Stalag 13 is a prisoner of war internment camp that is lorded over by the incredibly incompetent Colonel Klink (Werner Klemperer) and his second in command, Sgt Schultz (John Banner). There they keep Colonel Robert Hogan (Bob Crane) and his band of merry men prisoner. The thing is, Colonel Klink believes that not only is he in charge, but that the men are constantly trying to escape from his fiendish grip. Reality of the situation is that Hogan and his men have absolutely no intention of ever REALLY escaping. Instead their purpose is to stay inside Stalag 13 and send back information to the Allied troops, while making Klink and Schultz THINK that they’re in charge. It’s a simple premise and one that doesn’t require a whole lot of brain power to understand, but it works really well. Much like the old Disney rendition of “Zorro” on TV you get to laugh at the bad guys and cheer for the good guys as they pull one over on Klink every episode (while Hogan manages to pretty much steal 90% of Klink’s cigar’s in the process and flirt with his assistant, Helga).
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=67009[/img]Shot in a normal (for the time) TV aspect ratio of 1.33:1, the video encode looks REALLY nice for an old 60’s show. It’s not remastered for HD and there is some specs and visual blemishes on the film prints, but the show is relatively clean and clear of any abnormalities. Colors are a bit earthy and wooden in color, like many shows of that era, and while the first episode is in Black and White, the rest of the show is colorized from that point on. Blacks are decent, with strong shadow detail and overall fine detail is pretty solid. There’s some softness to the old masters, but they work quite well and look better than I remember them looking.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=67017[/img]Given a Dolby Digital mono track, “Hogan’s Heroes” does a nice job of replicating the old TV show’s original source material. The audio is strong vocals with good presence in the front stage, but it’s simply a vocal track really. There’s some mild LFE and some mirroring in the front two speakers with the sound effects, but really we’re listening to these guys talk and the laugh track overlaid on top. There’s some harshness to the upper end of the vocal range and a slight bit of distortion happens there, but overall it’s a solid track that does exactly what is required of it considering the cheap recording devices and the condition of the original masters.
• Audio Commentary on Select Episodes
• Gag Reel - Edited by Bob Crane
• Photo Gallery
“Hogan’s Heroes” is goofy and slapstick, but it is a whole barrel load of fun. I’ve watched the show several times over on cable TV, and even owned a couple of the previously released Paramount seasons back about a decade, but this boxset packages up those seasons into one massive boxset and allows one to view them for an insanely low price. The audio and video are fine, and my only real complaint with the boxset is the packaging of 27 discs into an over/under flip case design that I tend to believe creates a situation for slipping discs and thus scratches. Besides that minor quibble this set is absolutely fantastic and a joy for anyone who loves classic TV shows. Definitely recommended.
Starring: Bob Crane, Werner Klemperer, John Banner
Creators: Bernard Fein, Albert S. Ruddy
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital Mono
Runtime: 4275 Minutes
DVD Release Date: March 8th, 2016
Buy Hogan's Heroes: The Complete Series Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Great Buy
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