I see NOTH-ING!

I have noted in this space numerous examples about how Hollywood’s lack of creativity leads to lame remakes.

The latest example comes from Stephen Green:

Hours after news broke that NBCUniversal will re-reboot “Battlestar Galactica,” an idea colder than a Cylon’s heart, we learn that ’60s sitcom “Hogan’s Heroes” is getting the sequel treatment from series co-creator Al Ruddy.

The original premise was fun, in a lighthearted ’60s way. Despite valid concerns of “Too soon!” and genuine Nazi atrocities committed mostly against Soviet prisoners, the show worked well enough to run for 168 primetime episodes — and win a bunch of awards in the process. I grew up watching the reruns almost endlessly. Colonel Robert Hogan (Bob Crane) and his heroes were, quickly described, a white guy (Hogan), a black guy (Ivan Dixon as Kinchloe), a nerdy guy (Larry Hovis as Carter), a British guy (Richard Dawson as Newkirk), and a French guy (Robert Clary as LeBeau). Together they derailed German munitions trains, snuck spies or vital information to safety, and generally aided the Allied cause from one of the least likely places imaginable.

The two main German characters, camp commander Colonel Klink (Werner Klemperer, a German-born* Jewish actor!) and oafish guard Sergeant Schultz (John Banner), were played for laughs. They were presented as not-terribly-competent German soldiers trying to do their duty as best they could, but mostly trying not to get on the wrong side of any actual Nazis. The only regular Nazi character, Howard Caine’s Major Hochstetter, appeared in maybe a third of the shows, and was outsmarted by Hogan and his crew at every turn.

The ’60s being the ’60s, there was of course Klink’s improbably attractive secretary, Hilda (or was it Gretchen?), played by Sigrid Valdis.

Hilda was one of Klink’s secretaries.

Helga was the other. Bob Crane, who played Hogan, and Sigrid Valdis, who married Hilda, married during the series’ last season.

Like Mel Brooks’s “Get Smart,” which aired during the same years, “Hogan’s Heroes” was really a spy spoof — a genre which flourished in the years after Sean Connery made James Bond into a box office star.

So what about the new show? Well, we don’t know much yet. We do know not to call it a reboot, because it isn’t. In the new show the descendants of the original heroes are scattered all over the world in the present day, but somehow wind up together on a global treasure hunt.

Is this supposed to be “Hogan’s Heroes” or …?

Hell, you’re probably going to be disappointed no matter what. Because as near as I can tell, the new show is the flimsiest excuse for a sequel since “Return to the Blue Lagoon.” Other than featuring an international cast of various accents and colors (plus various sexualities, sexes, and at least three different genders, I’d wager), the new “Hogan’s” has about as much to do with the old “Hogan’s” as Long Island Iced Tea has in common with iced tea.

The new show isn’t a cynical attempt at rebooting a classic. It isn’t even a cynical attempt at making a sequel. The new “Hogan’s Heroes” seems more like a cynical attempt at stretching a beloved brand thin enough to cover something almost entirely unrelated. Boomers are probably getting too old now to care about this stuff, so I think what’s going on here is an attempt to tug at Gen X nostalgia for the reruns we watched as kids. Sheesh, we couldn’t even get a “Family Ties II: Family Tighter.”

But that’s what passes in Hollywood today for originality, so maybe I’ll give it a look when it comes out. Especially if Hilda’s great-granddaughter turns out to be even half as attractive as she was.

So much for those who thought a sitcom set in a German POW camp couldn’t possibly be redone … assuming it is redone.

I don’t remember watching when the series was originally on CBS. I did, however, watch it every chance I got when it was in reruns. “Hogan’s Heroes” was inspired by a black comedy movie, “Stalag 17,” also set in a German POW camp, but, as Green notes, with a few 007 touches.

The most notable thing about the series is its casting. Corporal LeBeau and every major Nazi role were played by Jewish actors. Robert Clary survived a concentration camp. The family of Werner Klemperer, who played Col. Klink, came to the U.S. in 1935. John Banner, who played Sgt. Schultz, was from what now is Ukraine; he was acting in Switzerland when Germany annexed Austria, and decided that would be a good time to head to the U.S. Leon Askin, who played Gen. Burkhalter, was from Austria. (Banner and Askin were both sergeants in the Army during World War II.) Howard Caine, who played Gestapo Major Hochstetter, was an American.

Klemperer said he would only take the role if the Nazis were portrayed as bumbling idiots. That was what the producers had in mind, except for the evil German characters, who usually ended up dead.

My two favorite episodes were when Sgt. Carter did a more-than-passable imitation of Adolf Hitler …

… and when Hogan’s Heroes, well, ended the war:

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