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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Hogan's Heroes - The Complete First Season



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#1 of 45 Scott Kimball

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Posted March 08 2005 - 11:20 AM

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Hogan's Heroes - The Complete First Season





Studio: Paramount

Year: 1965 - 1966

Rated: NR

Length: 13 Hours, 42 Minutes

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 (mono)

Closed Captioned

Special Features: None

Estimated Street Price: $30, USD
Release Date: March 15, 2005


I should point out up front that I’ve only been a casual watcher of this series over the years. Premiering on CBS a few years before I was born, I missed the original series run, and only caught occasional reruns after school as a child when much of the humor went over my head. Until I received this set, I hadn’t seen an episode of Hogan’s Heroes in well over twenty years. Feeling a little underqualified, I won’t delve into a detailed analysis of the program - although a brief description for the uninitiated seems warranted.

Hogan’s Heroes follows a ragtag band of Allied prisoners in a World War II German prison camp. Bob Crane stars as Colonel Robert Hogan, the American commander of a group of Allied prisoners at Stalag 13. The Allies mission is not so much to escape, but to gather intelligence and pretty much undermine the German war effort in any way possible. He is aided by prisoners LeBeau (Robert Clary), Newkirk (Richard Dawson), Kinchloe (Ivan Dixon), and Carter (Larry Hovis).

The camp commandant is Colonel Klink (Werner Klemperer) and the bumbling Sergeant Shultz is played by John Banner.

Wholly unbelievable, Hogan’s Heroes doesn’t make any attempts at portraying War as Hell, like MASH did even in the funny episodes. Instead, Hogan’s Heroes is simple humor... consistently funny, slapstick and situational humor. Even though the same situations are played time and time again, it somehow never gets old. As many times as Shultz says, “I know NOTHING,” it still manages to be funny.

Packaging and Menus
Hogan’s Heroes comes on five discs, packaged in individual slim cases, which are in turn housed in a cardboard slipcase.

Each disc’s menu displays the titles of six or seven episodes, and has a “Play All” feature. There are no other options.

Each episode is prepended by the original “CBS In Color” bumper, and has the original “Bing Crosby Productions” bumper after the episode’s end credits.

On the episodes that I screened, there was a chapter stop immediately after the opening credit sequence.

I should note that screener copies went out with a packaging error that is supposed to be corrected before these sets hit the store shelves - Disc One and Disc Two labels are swapped.

(UPDATE: 3/17/05 - It seems some sets have made it to the store shelves with the labeling error. Paramount has a customer service line set up to report this problem and arrange for a replacement. The number is: 1-866-627-8201)

The Transfers
I should note that I watched the pilot episode, and picked four other episodes at random for this review. Since the pilot episode is the only one in black and white, I’ve covered it separately from the rest.

Video / Audio: Pilot (The Informer)
The pilot episode is nicely rendered in black and white. The full-frame picture is sharp and detailed, with a hint of grain from the original elements. While it looks very nice for its age, there are occasional specks which mar the print - though I’ve seen worse on far newer material.

Contrast is good, with acceptable shadow detail, although the image has a dark appearance overall - though I realize that the show is predominantly dark by design.

Audio is in the original mono. It is cleanly delivered with good frequency response and clear detail in the dialog. A slight background hiss can be heard throughout - most likely a limitation of the original recording.


Video / Audio (General)
The color episodes appear the slightest touch softer than the pilot episode, and also show less grain. Still, these episodes have good detail and sharpness, with only occasionally apparent ringing.

The image enjoys good contrast, with a neutral-to-warm color palette. Saturation is acceptable, wandering from mild to moderate between scenes of the same episode.

Occasional scenes seem to be pulled from differing sources, since some cuts will have noticeably more noise or other differing qualities from the cuts in the scene surrounding them.

Audio is in the original mono. Frequency response is good. Dialog is consistently clean and clear. A slight background hiss from the original recordings can be heard throughout.

Overall, this 40 year old show comes across very nicely on DVD, with a nice transfer and a faithful mono soundtrack.

Special Features
There are no special features.

Final Thoughts
Priced around $30, there’s no reason for fans to skip on this set. It looks and sounds good, and these appear to be original length, uncut episodes. As for the extras... “I know NOTHING.”

#2 of 45 Lynda-Marie

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Posted March 08 2005 - 12:02 PM

Thanks, Scott. Now you have made the wait until next Tuesday that much more unbearable. Posted Image
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#3 of 45 GlennH

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Posted March 08 2005 - 02:40 PM

"Vhat is dis man doing here?!"

Thanks. Too bad they couldn't have some kind of extras, but it's a pretty good price for 32 uncut episodes with good quality presentation. It's going on my buy list. Maybe not immediately, but eventually.

#4 of 45 Jaime_Weinman

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Posted March 08 2005 - 03:50 PM

One thing that's not often mentioned is that several key people from Hogan's Heroes went on to do M*A*S*H. Gene Reynolds, producer-director for Hogan's Heroes, became the producer-director of M*A*S*H. And one of the most prolific writers for Hogan was Laurence Marks, who became one of the most prolific writers for the early seasons of M*A*S*H (he and Larry Gelbart wrote most of the episodes for the first three seasons). In fact, M*A*S*H was sometimes referred to, early on, as "Hawkeye's Heroes" because of all the Hogan people involved with it.

#5 of 45 Jim-M

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Posted March 09 2005 - 06:09 AM

I'm surprised that they don't have the same notes for each episode that the HH discs from Columbia House have. On the CH discs, for each episode there is a Guest Cast menu option and a Production Notes (or something similar) option. There's not a huge amount of info in each one, but it usually is interesting. The number of episodes on each disc appears to be the same as the CH ones.

#6 of 45 JamesHromadka

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Posted March 09 2005 - 08:25 AM

I Tivo the two weekly episodes on the Hallmark Channel and hate having to put up with the horrid chopping done for commercials. I can't wait for my preorder to arrive. I hope enough people buy it so that Paramount quickly releases the rest of the series.

#7 of 45 Al (alweho)

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Posted March 09 2005 - 09:52 AM

I'm wondering if they even used the new HDNet transfers? My guess here is no - since the transfer is not noted as anamorphic by the reviewer.

Somehow HDNet managed to show Hogan's Heroes in 16x9 without any cropping I could detect. The episodes looked awfully good in HD for such a vintage property.
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#8 of 45 Scott Kimball

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Posted March 09 2005 - 10:31 AM

The episodes are from new high definition masters. Paramount has, rightly so, presented these in their original aspect ratio. The fact that they are not anamorphically enhanced doesn't mean they weren't produced from high def masters.

-Scott

#9 of 45 PeterTHX

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Posted March 09 2005 - 12:05 PM

Quote:
The episodes are from new high definition masters. Paramount has, rightly so, presented these in their original aspect ratio.


Some shows were shot widescreen "safe" in the late 50's, 60's.

HDNet's 16x9 presentations looked amazing.

X-Files was shot WS the last few seasons and presented as such on DVD, yet was never shown that way on its TV run. Do you think that those DVDs should have been 1.33?

#10 of 45 Scott Kimball

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Posted March 09 2005 - 02:07 PM

A "safe" frame is not the same as the "composed" frame. I prefer to watch programs in the same aspect ratio as they were composed.

#11 of 45 TonyD

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Posted March 13 2005 - 05:20 AM

so what exactly does widescreen safe mean?
i'm guessing that the 1.33.1 is what was intended to be seen, but there is more picture info on the sides and maybe the top that we do not see.

am i close?
is this what is shown on hdnet?

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#12 of 45 Dave Farley

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Posted March 13 2005 - 05:49 PM

Joshua Zyber posted this over at AVS in regard to the HDNet broadcasts:


"Three things are happening to Hogan's Heroes: First is what Adam posts, that excess picture on the sides never intended to be seen is being exposed. Secondly, they're cropping a little off the top and bottom. Then finally, the image is stretched sideways to fill the screen, more on the sides than in the middle. The result is that it looks a bit less distorted than the stretch modes on most TVs, but it's still disconcerting. Some people seem to like it, but I would much rather the original 4:3 frame be properly pillarboxed."


I agree with his conclusion. I'll take OAR.

No matter how nice they look on HDNet, that's not the way they were originally broadcast or intended to be seen.

#13 of 45 JamesHromadka

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Posted March 14 2005 - 08:43 AM

Only one more day!

#14 of 45 DanielCo

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Posted March 16 2005 - 02:49 AM

Well, I got my Hogan today, watched the b&w "The Informer" pilot episode, and saw that, once again "uncut" is a pipe dream. I had bought the first Columbia House disk on Ebay for my Hogan's fix about a year ago and, while that disk contains the scene of Hogan calling back the temporarily escaped prisoner after radioing the sub, the box set does not contain that scene.

Not sure how many cuts are in there, but there's at least one.

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#15 of 45 Dave Farley

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Posted March 16 2005 - 03:56 PM

Daniel,

Are you talking about the scene where the guy is kissing the girl on the couch at her apartment and Hogan calls him over the radio? That's missing? I've got the 'CBS Video' VHS that was released in the late 90's and that scene was in there.

Here's something to check. The pilot episode of this show was long. It actually ran slightly over 30 minutes. The VHS copy is complete and runs 30:33 from the "Germany 1942" title card through the CBS eye opening up to reveal "CBS Television Network".

How long is the pilot on the new set? Wouldn't that be something if they just stuck the syndicated versions that Hallmark runs on there?

When you get the chance, or for anyone else who has the set, here are a few more to check:


#3-Kommandant of the Year=25:10 from the opening through the 'BCP' closing.

#20-It Takes a Thief...Sometimes=25:09

#21-The Great Impersonation=24:58

The specs at the top of this thread list the set as 822 minutes in length. Without answering the unresolved issue about the pilot mentioned by Daniel, the length of the set seems right on for 32 episodes. If you subtract the 30 minute pilot, you'd have over 25:30 per episode for the other 31 episodes. Add in the new Paramount ending that all their TV sets have, and that sounds about right. Hopefully, someone with the set will chime in as to the length of the pilot on the DVD set.

#16 of 45 Scott Kimball

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Posted March 17 2005 - 10:33 AM

The Informer: 00:26:37
Kommandant of the Year: 00:25:31, including bumpers
It Takes a Thief...: 00:25:31, including bumpers

-Scott

#17 of 45 Jim-M

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Posted March 17 2005 - 01:18 PM

Here are the times for some of the episodes on the Columbia House DVDs:

1. The Informer: 30:35
2. Hold That Tiger: 25:10
3. Kommandant of the Year: 25:10
4. ???? 25:11

20. It Takes a Thief...: 25:19

#18 of 45 Dave Farley

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Posted March 17 2005 - 01:46 PM

Quote:
The Informer: 00:26:37
Kommandant of the Year: 00:25:31, including bumpers
It Takes a Thief...: 00:25:31, including bumpers

-Scott

Thanks, Scott.


It sounds like the two regular episodes might be okay.

The pilot looks to be about four minutes short. I went back and watched the pilot on the VHS from CBS Video today. It's definitely 00:30:33. I saw the syndicated version of the pilot on Hallmark a while back. I'm not 100% on this, but I'll bet that most of the edits come between the 00:18:00 and 00:22:00 marks where Hogan is showing the spy the underground steam room, barbershop, Helga giving manicures, Hogan calling the sub, and then the guy kissing the girl on the couch.

Another possible source of edited scenes could be at the end. Hogan succeeds in making the spy look like a fool. Eventually, the end music starts to play and Schultz mistakenly enters the barracks with the prisoners, leaving Hogan outside. He then comes back out and switches places with him. It seems like the episode is over, but then there is a three minute scene in Klink's office between Hogan and Klink to finish the episode.

If anyone is interested in finding out what's missing, I've written down what's occurring at the 00:06:00, 00:10:00, 00:14:00, 00:18:00, 00:22:00, 00:26:00, and ending marks.

#19 of 45 Dave Farley

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Posted March 17 2005 - 02:07 PM

Quote:
Here are the times for some of the episodes on the Columbia House DVDs:

1. The Informer: 30:35
2. Hold That Tiger: 25:10
3. Kommandant of the Year: 25:10
4. ???? 25:11

20. It Takes a Thief...: 25:19

Thanks, Jim. It looks like the Columbia House/CBS VHS and DVDs are about the same. Hang onto your Columbia House DVD with the pilot. Apparently, that DVD and my VHS look to be the only ways to get a complete pilot episode.

Gord Lacey mentioned in the other thread that Paramount set up a consumer help line for replacing the mislabeled HH DVDs. Here's the number again:

1-866-627-8201

If anyone calls, mention that the pilot episode(The Informer) is edited and missing four minutes. I would politely suggest that they should eventually make a replacement available with the complete episode. I don't have the set yet but I'll be calling too.

#20 of 45 Sean.S

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Posted March 17 2005 - 11:33 PM

Picked this set up yesterday. Great video quality, uncut episodes, and very funny.

Edited pilot, huh? I'm glad I've got the Columbia House DVD then. Thanks for that information.





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