The inmates of a German World War II Prisoners of War camp conduct espionage and sabotage campaign right under the noses of their warders. While the enemy is often gullible, easily fooled or downright incompetent - the real strength of Hogan's men are the elaborate ruses and sometimes dangerous lengths they will go to complete their mission. "What is this man doing here?" an increasingly agitated Major Hochstetter of the Gestapo demands of Col. Klink (Werner Klemperer) in "War Takes a Holiday," one of the best episodes of Hogan's Heroes
' third season (or any season, for that matter). "This man," of course, is Senior P.O.W. Officer Col. Hogan (Bob Crane), who, by now, has the run of Stalag 13, and seemingly, all of Europe. The beginning of the episode, "D-Day at Stalag 13," finds Hogan in London to receive his orders on how his barracks operation will further "tie up" the German general command to distract them from the planned Normandy landing. "You have quite a reputation for the offbeat and the bizarre, and for pulling it off," Hogan is told. And he more than lives up to it over the course of season 3. In "War Takes a Holiday," Hogan and company convince their captors that the war is over. But sabotaging the German war effort is not all fun and games. In "One in Every Crowd," Hogan is threatened with exposure by a barracks traitor, and in "Two Nazis for the Price of One," a top Gestapo officer likewise learns of Hogan's operation, and demands information about the Manhattan Project. These excellent episodes belie Hogan's Heroes
unwarranted reputation as a series that treated life in a prison camp as a lark.
This season welcomed back several recurring characters, most notably, Bernard Fox's Col. Crittendon, "the most incompetent British officer in the entire British Navy." Reprising her role as the very suspect White Russian, Nita Talbot was nominated for an Emmy for her performance in "The Hostage." For his commanding performance as Klink, Klemperer was honored with an Emmy this season. As lovable oaf Sgt. Schultz, John Banner enjoyed some of his character's most memorable episodes, including "Sergeant Schultz Meets Mata Hari" and "The Ultimate Weapon." (In "War Takes a Holiday," it is revealed that Schultz was the owner of Germany's biggest toy company!) This five-disc set contains a short but sweet excerpt from a Pat Sajak Show appearance by Klemperer, who reveals one of show business's most fascinating ironies; how a man whose family fled Hitler's Germany became television's most famous and oddly beloved Nazis. --Donald Liebenson