Hogan’s Heroes


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My first excursion into the Desilu backlot is with a handpicked group of friends that are willing to potentially deal with a pack of dogs… Volunteers anyone?

Easier than I expected, I recruited five accomplices. We confirmed dogs exist from the hills above, but not that often. When work takes place on the backlot, dogs are not present. We will roll the dice on this night.

Finally, this Sunday night after the TV airing of Hogan’s Heroes on network TV, we executed a plan we have rehearsed for over and over. We would go inside under the cover of darkness. Climbing a rusted fence post with a viscious dog picture on it. That puts us in a deep grassy hillside lined by large eucalyptus trees. The moon is crescent shaped giving us very little to see. It takes awhile for our eyes to adjust to this complete darkness.

The camp in its entirety presents itself. All the POW barracks, a water tower, a German shepherd kennel with 6 dog houses. All recognizable in the dark hue.  And of course, Colonel Klink’s office.

We were in no-hurry. We are sneaking into a iconic set that may be guarded by dogs.

We stare down from the grassy knoll over-looking the stalag. It is inspiring. My friends and I, are looking for any signs of life in this dark setting. Particularly of interest, are the dogs are on duty!

We sit for an hour convincing ourselves that it will be safe to go forward… our first objective, the guard tower next to the Stalag 13 main gate. There are two at the main gate. A red and white guard shack sits next to the one we picked. Real barb wire surrounds this set from this angle, and the main gate itself is closed.

We gather the courage to exit our observation point and run to the nearest guard tower. One of three overlooking the stalag, and scurry up it’s ladder. We our just outside the camp fence looking directly at Colonel Klink’s headquarters.

We have seen this tower for years, standing tall beyond the chain link fence that seperated us all this time. Now we are here!

This is a truly satisfying accomplishment. Up in this guard perch we can see more of the camp, and we feel safe from dogs. The worst that can happen up here is we could get trapped all-night until work begins tomorrow morning, on this lot.

We would rather surrender to humans than to face a pack of angry shepherds. We ponder now what move makes sense next on this backlot chess board. We want to sneak beyond this main gate fortress. Like Bob Crane and his band of merry heroes, we also, plot to break-in to stalag 13.

All our previous exploits were on MGM backlots, so this is not our first backlot rodeo. But, MGM has no dogs.

It is always fun to explore the unknown. Night-time makes it much safer not seen but… 10 times more SCARIER!

Just a kid living inside the world of his TV.

To be continued…

Story written and lived by Donnie Norden…

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