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. Just as the castaways were left to languish on Gilligan's Island
, so, too, did cancellation deprive fans of seeing Col. Hogan (Bob Crane) and company finally liberated from Stalag 13. But at least this controversial series (again; it's a P.O.W., and not a concentration, camp!) went out literally with a bang, another successful act of sabotage of Nazi operations. The sixth season brought a new face to the barracks, Kenneth Washington as Sgt. Baker, replacing (without explanation) Ivan Dixon's "Kinch." Happily, some of the series' most entertaining recurring characters put in final appearances. Bernard Fox, as the hapless Col. Crittendon, enjoys his finest hour in the two-parter "Lady Chitterly's Lover," in which he must impersonate a look-alike British traitor, and Kathleen Freeman, as the dread Gertrude Berkhalter, upsets Hogan's plans to sneak a downed U.S. general out of camp in "Kommandant Gertrude." John Banner, as Sgt. Schultz, has one of his best episodes in "Kommandant Schultz," in which power goes to the cuddly buffoon's head when he is put in command of Stalag 13.
But mostly this season is business as usual, with Hogan and his men--Newkirk (Richard Dawson), LeBeau (Robert Clary) and Carter (Larry Hovis)--smuggling, hijacking, stealing, and otherwise disrupting the German war effort under the nose of clueless Col. Klink (Werner Klemperer, an Emmy nominee for this season). One standout episode is "Eight O'Clock and All Is Well," with guest star Monte Markham as a new prisoner with impeccable credentials whom Hogan discovers is actually a Gestapo spy. And in the episode "Look at the Pretty Snowflakes," Crane gets to demonstrate his virtuoso drumming as he attempts to cause an avalanche. Between the "krauts, lice, stinking food and bloody awful weather," life in Stalag 13 was no picnic. But, as Hogan tries to convince LeBeau not to return to France in the episode "Cuisine a la Stalag 13," let us not forget "all the fun... all the laughs." That is Hogan's Heroes' final legacy. --Donald Liebenson