|Original Airdate:||September 17, 1965|
|Written by:||Richard M. Powell, Bernard Fein & Albert S. Ruddy|
|Directed by:||Robert Butler|
|Produced by:||Edward H. Feldman & Bernard Fein|
- Colonel Hogan - Bob Crane
- Corporal Louis LeBeau - Robert Clary
- Corporal Peter Newkirk - Richard Dawson
- Sergeant James Kinchloe - Ivan Dixon
- Sergeant Vladimir Minsk - Leonid Kinskey
- Fräulein Helga - Cynthia Lynn
- Colonel Albert Burkhalter - Leon Askin
- Corporal Karl Langenscheidt - Jon Cedar
- Lieutenant Andrew Carter - Larry Hovis
- Sergeant Olsen - Stewart Moss
- Wagner - Noam Pitlik
- Oscar Schnitzer - Walter Janowitz
- Sergeant Riley - Richard Sinatra
The episode begins with the prisoners exiting their barracks to be inspected for a night time roll call. After Kommandant Klink, the camp's Kommadant, and his assistant have exited the Kommandant's office, Sergeant Schultz starts to take a head count of the prisoners of Barracks 7. As he does, Colonel Hogan looks at his watch and then nods at Corporal Newkirk, which Newkirk quickly returns with a nod of his own. As Schultz reaches him, Newkirk pretends to be getting sick, as he falls right into a surprised Schultz's arms. During the confusion that follows, Sergeant Olsen sneaks out of the camp and runs into the nearby woods. Once Olsen is safely gone, Newkirk comes back up claiming to be feeling better, and a short time later, after Hogan tells him that he might catch a cold, Schultz retrieves his originally taken helmet from one of the prisoners. A short time later, Klink has the prisoners sent back into their barracks after the Germans realize that a prisoner is missing.
Meanwhile, inside the woods, Olsen meets up with a shocked Lieutenant Carter, who has sometime earlier escaped from another prison camp. As they begin to exchange flight jackets, Olsen tells Carter that he is going to take his place at Stalag 13. Carter, after the two have finished their clothing exchange, is captured by a few of the camp's guard dogs, after they allow Olsen to flee. Carter then enters the camp and joins the other prisoners.
The next day, inside Barracks 7, he is questioned by Hogan, while being measured for some fraudulent civilian clothing by Sergeant Minsk. When Carter asks about the questioning, Hogan informs him that it's for security reasons, to prevent a ringer from being planted among them. When Carter asks what the tailoring is for, Hogan informs him that it is to make him look like a better convincing German civilian after he finally leaves the camp. Newkirk then arrives, soon being told by Hogan that the football game is to be cancelled because of lack of time. He and Minsk both protests, with Newkirk telling Hogan that the ballgame's sudden cancellation might make the Germans suspicious. Hogan replies that it won't as it'll be the Kommandant himself who'll cancel the game. Newkirk quickly compliments the Colonel, saying that he would be a better magician than he presently is if he could actually pull it off. Newkirk is then introduced to Carter, before he proceeds to show the Lieutenant his pickpocketing ability, as well as a magic trick before leaving the room after teasing Minsk about his tailoring. When Carter asks about the outside man, Olsen, and what he does while waiting to come back, Hogan replies, they don't know. When Carter then queries about whether any of the German guards would notice that he isn't Olsen, Hogan tells him that only Schultz would notice, but he won't blab because doing so would mean a trip to the Russian Front. Sergeant Kinchloe then appears, informing Hogan that Klink wants to see him and that he is still angry about last night's escape attempt. Hogan leaves for Klink's office.
Colonel Hogan goes to the Kommandant's office, where he first gives some nylon stockings to an appreciative Fräulein Helga and then goes in to see Colonel Klink. Inside Klink's office, Hogan is told by the stern (at least for this episode) Klink why the recaptured prisoner has not been placed in the cooler or in solitary after his aborted escape attempt. This leads to a long conversation between them, which is a lecture on Klink's part to convince Hogan why his men should stop trying to escape since no one has yet to successfully escape from the camp while Hogan explains to Klink the reason why his men keep trying to escape: to keep Klink and his men busy, otherwise Klink would be on the Russian Front, as Hogan claims that someone with a lower rank could do his job, including a Sergeant. When Klink asks him if someone has said anything about him going East, Hogan's body language makes him believe that it is Schultz who has talked about it. During their conversation/lecture, Hogan tricks Klink into punishing the prisoners by cancelling their football game. Hogan then leaves, having earlier taken from Klink's cigar box three cigars, one of which he gets Klink to light. On his way out, while smoking the cigar, he sees a new prisoner being taken towards Klink's office, whom he tells to only give Klink his name, rank and serial number to the latter's agreement. It is soon discovered though, as he meets Klink, that the new prisoner is actually a spy named Wagner, who has been sent by Berlin to discover if the prisoners are planning any more escapes.
Once the new prisoner is inside the barracks, Hogan asks him a series of questions, like he did earlier with Carter. Unlike Carter, the new prisoner fails to give Hogan the correct answers to one of the questions; the one about a nonexistent rapscallion. Hogan tells Newkirk, after Newkirk tells him that the new guy is otherwise clean, to inform the others not to talk to him, which he quickly does. Later, inside Hogan's office, he explains to Carter how they plan to get him back to England while Kinchloe is busy working on the coffee pot listening device while complaining about the others using it as an actual coffee pot. During the conversation, as Hogan tells Carter how the device works, Corporal LeBeau arrives with some cooked food, before he starts to argue with Kinch in french over the use of the coffee pot. As this goes on, Newkirk appears with news about Wagner going to see Klink. The heroes then see the listening device turn on and are then shocked to hear Wagner speaking on the phone, telling his superior in Berlin about their organization, with Klink listening in. While Klink is protesting to Wagner about the existence of such an organization, Hogan furiously asks how Wagner has found out. Lt. Carter quickly confesses, saying that he hasn't been told that Wagner is a spy, soon followed by Newkirk, who says that he didn't warn Carter earlier as he had found him asleep, but that he had planned to do so once Carter has woken up. Upon hearing all this, Hogan suggests that they eat LeBeau's food. Later, while he is listening to the others debate about what they should do about Wagner, he tells them what they are going to do: they are going to tell the spy everything about their organization, but they are also going to make sure that his superiors won't believe him when he passes that information on to them.
The prisoners' disinformation plan is quickly put into operation with Hogan telling Wagner, after he has reentered the barracks, that he is going to show him their operation. Hogan then has him blindfolded by LeBeau. The two then take Wagner outside, and lead him to the camp's dog kennel, which LeBeau then goes into to get the dogs out of the way. Once the trio are inside the kennel, Hogan and LeBeau begin to loudly converse among themselves as though they are leading Wagner towards their secret entrance under the water tower, soon convincing Wagner that they are actually at the entrance. They then pretend that they are going through the tunnel entrance, with access to it being a chain connected to the water tower, when in actuality they are going down the tunnel that is placed under one of the doghouses. After arriving inside the tunnel, Wagner removes the blindfold. Hogan then begins to give Wagner the grand tour of the operation. He first shows Wagner their mint, where they are making fake Marks, which are somewhat better then the real ones since the ink on the real ones runs, and he watches Wagner take one of them away as evidence. Hogan then shows him their factory, where Wagner thought they are making Lugers for a big escape, but Hogan tells him that they are actually making cigarette lighters to be later sold in Berlin, one of which Wagner then takes with him, also as evidence. Next, Wagner asks Hogan how they are able to get the equipment for the operation in and out of camp. Hogan quickly tells him about Oscar Schnitzer, the local vet, who is supposed to be bringing into the camp each day new dogs so that they wouldn't become too friendly with the prisoners, but he is actually driving an empty truck while the dog noises that are coming from inside it are actually coming from a record, as the guards won't go near the truck since they don't like the dogs. He then shows Wagner their sauna which they are using to help get rid of all the extra pounds that they are gaining from all of the food that they are smuggling into the camp. Wagner is then shown the barber shop, where the prisoners have their hair cut, especially those who are planning to escape, so that they could blend in better with the civilian population after making good their escape. He is then told about Helga being their manicurist to help keep their nails trimmed, to keep attention away from their hands, before he actually sees her inside the barber shop. Lastly, Hogan mentions their communication center before finally leaving Wagner.
Inside the communication center, after Kinch has gotten the radio working, Hogan informs the sub that is going to pick up Carter that they are going to send him out soon and to pass the information along to London, which the sub commander's acknowledges. Afterwards, as Kinchloe watches, he starts to plan the second half of their operation to discredit Wagner.
The next day, a staff car appears, as a nervous Schultz asks Hogan when Olsen would be back. As Hogan reassures Schultz about Olsen, out of the staff car exits Colonel Burkhalter and his staff. After hearing a protest from a nervous Klink, Wagner makes his claim to Colonel Burkhalter that he has discovered a secret organization that is hidden under Klink's nose. Wagner's accusations, in which he mentions everything that he has seen, produces a 'shocked' response from Hogan as he learns that Wagner is a German spy. After hearing Klink's statement that spies are notorious liars, Wagner tries to prove the organization's existence by first showing Burkhalter the fake Mark that he has taken earlier, but he is unable to produce it, thanks to Newkirk being able to make it vanish. Wagner then claims that Helga is the prisoners' manicurist, but that is rejected out of hand by both Klink and Burkhalter, especially after the latter remembers what she has recently done for him. Wagner next talks about the factory where the prisoners make the cigarette lighters which are shaped like Lugers, which are then sold in Berlin. After Hogan gives Burkhalter a cigar, Wagner tries to prove that the Luger he has taken earlier is a lighter. But, when he tries to light it, a bullet exits it instead, destroying the cigar in Burkhalter's mouth. After claiming that the prisoners have somehow switched the lighter for a real Luger, as Klink takes it from him, and after mentioning the communication center, Wagner leads Burkhalter and his staff along with the Kommandant over to the water tower, after Burkhalter has asked him to show them the entrance to the tunnels. But, when Wagner pulls down the chain to reveal the tunnel entrance, he instead douses Colonel Burkhalter with water. As this happens, the prisoners laugh. Wagner, now getting desperate, claims that a man has sneaked into the camp (Carter), before he sees Schnitzer's arriving truck and chases after it, while claiming that the prisoners are using it to get materials in and out of camp. He refuses to listen to Schnitzer's warning about the angry dogs inside the vehicle, as he still believes Hogan's earlier story about the only thing inside the vehicle being a recording. But, when he opens the truck's doors, he is shocked to see several angry, barking dogs jumping out of the back of the truck. As a now discredited Wagner starts to have a breakdown, and the prisoners and the camp guards try to round up the dogs, Carter secretly slips into the back of the truck, so that he can be driven out of camp and head back to England while Olsen exits it to rejoin the others. At the same time, Burkhalter, who has seen enough, orders Wagner's arrest, then apologizes to Klink for the false charges from the spy, whom he will be sending to the Russian Front to help "clear his head". While this is going on, Olsen goes back to his spot in the line-up, much to Schultz's happy relief, who then tries to inform Klink that all of the men from Barracks 7 are present, much to his superior's annoyance since he has never asked for a head count. Burkhalter and his staff then heads for Klink's office, quickly followed by Klink.
Schultz then leads the prisoners back into their barracks, all except for Hogan who tries to stay outside of the building while everyone else, including Schultz, goes inside. Schultz soon comes out and makes Hogan go into the barracks with his men, at which point the episode ends with the fat sergeant leaving.
- This is the pilot episode of the series.
- The episode is the only one in the entire series to be done in black-and-white. (Coincidentally, Get Smart, which launched on NBC the very night after Hogan's Heroes on CBS, began its run with a B&W pilot as well.)
- The camp is referred to as Camp 13, not Stalag 13.
- A bell is used to alert the prisoners for roll call during the episode. This would be the first of only two times that this method would actually be used. For the rest of the series, Sergeant Schultz would announce roll call to the prisoners.
- Kinchloe's uniform in the pilot is different from his series' uniform.
- Newkirk's uniform in the pilot, like Kinchloe's, is different from his series' uniform.
- The patch that is placed above Newkirk's corporal chevrons on his uniform is for an RAF wireless operator.
- When the prisoners line up (during various times in the episode), their uniforms presents the greater range of nationalities involved on the Allies side of the war - mostly British and French, but at least one Russian (Minsk) and possibly others. During the regular series, most of the men in Hogan's barracks have the uniform appearance of being American airmen. The occasional RAF prisoner might appear in the background, but prisoners from France and other Allied countries are notably absent.
- This is the only episode in the whole series in which Kinch wears a standard Army issue baseball cap.
- In the pilot, the barracks for Hogan and his men is Barracks 7. For the rest of the series, it's Barracks 2.
- The tunnels under the camp are shown for the first time.
- The doghouse tunnel entrance/exit appears for the first time.
- The coffee pot listening device appears for the first time, but only as a phone tap. For the rest of the series, it is a connection to a hidden microphone in Klink's office.
- The reason for Hogan's organization is explained during this episode.
- Carter appears as a lieutenant in the pilot episode. In the series proper, his rank is sergeant.
- Carter also does his first impersonation of Adolf Hitler.
- Unlike how he would normally be portrayed in the series, Klink is not shown as a buffoon, but as a stern officer.
- Helga appears in the tunnels with the prisoners for one scene, acting as the prisoners' manicurist. This never occurs again after the series is picked up.
- Burkhalter's rank in the episode is that of a colonel. He would appear as a general for the rest of the series, thus implying a promotion between this episode and the next.
- Burkhalter remembers Helga from an earlier visit to Stalag 13, which is never shown during the series.
- This is Sergeant Vladimir Minsk's only series appearance.
- This episode marks the first appearance of the so-called Barracks 3 gang, made up of second-tier heroes who are often seen helping out Hogan and his men during the series. They sometimes get a line or two of dialogue, and sometimes cover for the absence of one of the first-tier heroes. The two that we meet in this episode are Sergeants Olsen and Riley.
- Klink's and Schultz's catch phrases, "No one has ever successfully escaped from Camp (later Stalag) 13" and "I see nothing" respectively, are used for the first time in this episode.
- Part of the episode's plot is an allusion to one of the ways that the Germans would attempt to find out how prisoners would try to escape from their stalags, by placing a spy among them. A second plot point is how the prisoners would try to make sure that a new prisoner isn't a spy, by asking him certain questions, both real and phony, about his unit that only the prisoner himself would or would not know, that would in the long run help to spot a spy. The second plot point would be used constantly throughout the series.
- During the first few episodes of the series, the setting of Klink's office is in flux. The bulletin board behind his desk appears and disappears from episode to episode. For the pilot episode, there is a bulletin board.
- The opening sequence shows a U.S. made M3 Half-track rolling out of the gate of the camp - apparently filling in for a German Sd.Kfz. 251. Such was common practice when filming WW II TV shows and movies, as almost all German half-tracks had been destroyed during the war. As for the American M3, it was standardized in 1940 and built by the Autocar Company, the Diamond T Motor Company, and the White Motor Company. Many examples survive even today.
- The Germans arrive in a Mercedes-Benz 770 W150 which was used by German officers as staff cars and a Mercedes-Benz W31 Type G4 six-wheeler. The G4 was highly sought after by German Generals since it was built for off-road use. Only 3 G4s are known to have survived the war - one of which was used during the production of this series.
- Schnitzer drives a 1932 Studebaker Rockne truck. The brand was named for University of Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne.
- For the only time ever, the show doesn't end with the standard closing credits sequence.
- The pilot episode was originally filmed in early 1965.
- This is the first episodic appearance of Bob Crane as Colonel Hogan, Werner Klemperer as Kommandant Klink, John Banner as Sergeant Schultz, Robert Clary as Corporal LeBeau, Richard Dawson as Corporal Newkirk, Ivan Dixon as Sergeant James Kinchloe, Stewart Moss as Sergeant Olsen, Leon Askin as Colonel, later General, Burkhalter, Cynthia Lynn as Helga, Walter Janowitz as Oscar Schnitzer and Jon Cedar who plays a German soldier.
- This is the first episodic appearance of actor Larry Hovis - but as a guest star and not a series regular.
- If you'll watch the right hand of actor Larry Hovis (Lt. Carter) during his first scene with Stewart Moss (Olsen) in the woods outside Camp 13, you'll see the flash of a wedding ring. This would later become an issue after the series was picked up. Hovis refused to remove his wedding ring for personal reasons, so he was almost always shown wearing gloves.
- Leonid Kinskey, who plays Sergeant Minsk, stated that he was offered a regular part in the series after the pilot was sold, but that he turned it down because he did not want to be associated with a series that portrayed the Nazis in such a light manner. Such feelings about the series as it was getting started were not uncommon. A scene on this subject occurs in the docudrama feature film, Auto Focus, based on the life of actor Bob Crane, featuring an exchange between Crane (Greg Kinnear) and a Jewish reporter (Ed Begley, Jr.) doing a story on the series. (As for Leonid Kinskey's claim: it is also just possible that the higher-ups at CBS and/or Bing Crosby Productions were leery of having a Russian "hero" on the show during the Cold War.)
- Robert Butler, the episode's director, specializes in directing TV show pilot episodes. Among the many TV shows he directed were the pilots/initial episodes of Ben Casey, Dr. Kildare, Remington Steele, Moonlighting, and so on. Butler also directed the first 'failed' pilot of Star Trek, "The Cage". The fact that Feldman and Ruddy hired someone who was essentially a dramatic director to helm their pilot was perhaps an effort to keep things fairly realistic at the beginning of the series.
- Another Star Trek connection is actor Stewart Moss (Sergeant Olsen). Moss played Ensign Joe Tormolen in the acclaimed first season TOS episode, "The Naked Time".
- Sergeant Olsen's escape early in the episode is a spoof of the prisoners' escape scene towards the end of the acclaimed war film, Stalag 17.
- When contacting Olsen on the radio, Hogan uses a code name: "Sidney Carton" was a main character in A Tale of Two Cities, and Hogan signs off quoting Sidney Carton's famous speech as he is led to the guillotine: "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done." (Some DVD versions of this episode inexplicably omit this scene.)
- Newkirk's line to Minsk, "Sam, don't make the pants too long," is a joking reference to the song, "Sam, You Made The Pants Too Long". Hogan makes a similar joke to Kinch in the fourth season episode, "Man in a Box."
Timeline Notes and Speculations
- Chronologically this is the first episode in the series. Following it in the series timeline is Up In Klink's Room.
- The year is given as 1942. This is one of the few times a year is actually mentioned in the series.
- Comparison with later episodes in the series, in particular Request Permission to Escape, Hogan Gives a Birthday Party, and Axis Annie, appears to imply a September 1942 date. Also implied in subsequent episodes, such as The General Swap, is that Hogan's organization had not been operational for very long - a few months, at the most - when "The Informer" takes place.
- In real life, there was a heavy bombing raid by 288 planes of the Royal Air Force on Cologne on the night of July 8, 1943. This happened about a year and a month after Operation Millennium, the RAF's 1000-plane pounding of Cologne. As with the earlier raid, this was strictly an RAF operation. The first USAAF bombing of Cologne did not happen until December. In the world of the series, however, the July 1943 raid is most likely the one Wagner claims to have been shot down on. It's the only large bombing raid on Cologne close enough to the presumed date of this episode (September 1943) to provide plausible cover for Wagner. All the other possible candidates were RAF nuisance raids by small groups of planes, usually no more than a dozen. This is the first indication that there are some interesting differences between the world of the series and actual history. In this instance, USAAF participation in the strategic bombing of Europe came about earlier than it did in actual history. Thus, in the world of the series, the July 8, 1943 bombing raid on Cologne would have been a mixed RAF/USAAF affair.
Early in the episode:
- Colonel Hogan: (to Newkirk) Pass the word around, football game is off.
- Vladimir: Oh no, Colonel, I was supposed to play fullback today!
- Hogan: Fullback? Now I know we've got to get the game cancelled.
- Hogan: I'll be at the communications center.
- Wagner: You mean there's more?
- Hogan: Keeps us off the streets.
Upon seeing that Hogan and his men in Barracks 7 are up to something:
- Schultz: I see nothing!
As Wagner is trying to expose Colonel Hogan's organization to both Klink and Burkhalter:
- Wagner: This man is operating an underground apparatus so vast and so complicated as to stagger the imagination. Under the very nose of Colonel Klink!
- Klink: (chuckles nervously) Colonel, spies are notoriously unreliable.
- Hogan: A spy? He's not one of us?
- Wagner: Too bad you didn't find it out sooner.
- Wagner: There is a man here who does not belong here, who has escaped in!
Wagner, screaming insanely in German, as he's being taken away by some of the camp guards:
- Wagner: You've got to believe me!!
- Leonid Kinskey is not credited as a guest star because he is listed in the opening credits/montage as a regular cast member.
- The weapons that are used by the camp's guards in the series' first season are actually Krag-Jørgensen rifle and Thompson submachine gun and not the Kar98k rifle and MP40 submachine gun that would've been used by the Luftwaffe camp guards during the war. MP40s would replace the Thompsons for the rest of the series, while the Krag-Jørgensens would still be used for the Kar98k.
It should be borne in mind, however, that in 1942 the Wehrmacht had captured forces from Poland, France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Russia, Norway, Greece, Yugoslavia, and the British Forces at Dunkirk & in the North African desert, and had incorporated troops from Austria & Czechoslovakia. They had thus acquired huge stockpiles of weapons & ammunition not necessarily of German manufacture. Such materiel as was useful to the front-line forces would undoubtedly remain in the hands of active combatants, but outdated or obsolete weapons, or anything for which the Wehrmacht had a limited supply of ammunition, would be rotated to the rear-echelon for use by the police, garrison troops, and POW camp guards.
- Wagner claims to have been shot down over Cologne. The US Eighth Air Force did not bomb Cologne until late 1943. Before that, it was a prime target of Britain's Royal Air Force. (see Timeline Notes and Speculations)
- Hogan tells Wagner that Oscar Schnitzer's dog truck doesn't actually contain any dogs, but a phonograph recording of barking dogs - "Very convincing, too, it's stereo!" Although EMI patented the technology as early as 1933, stereo records - and the necessary playback systems - didn't become available to the public until the late '50s. It's unlikely that Schnitzer would have had prototypes installed in his vehicle - or that Wagner would have known what Hogan was talking about.
- When Wagner pulls the chain to show that the water tower is a fake, Burkhalter has his hat on and takes it off. They immediately run over to Schnitzer’s truck, Burkhalter still has his hat off. Wagner lets the dogs out. Burkhalter has his hat on (shown from behind in wide view), but an immediate close up shows Burkhalter’s hat is off. Then when the dogs start growling and barking at Klink and Burkhalter, his hat is on again.
- The Informer at TV.com
- The Informer at the Internet Movie Database
- The Informer episode capsule at Webstalag 13
- The Informer at Ein Käfig voller Helden
- Hogan's Heroes Fanclub
- The Hofbrau
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