Psychic Kommandant
Series: Hogan's Heroes
Episode: Psychic Kommandant
Original Airdate: March 11, 1966
Production Number: 5784-25
Written by: Phil Sharp
Directed by: Gene Reynolds
Produced by: Edward H. Feldman & Bernard Fein

Regular Edit

Prisoners Edit

Camp Personnel Edit

Semi-Regulars Edit

Guest Stars Edit

Synopsis Edit

Hogan convinces Klink he has ESP in order to get the plans to a new airplane with a silent engine.

Plot Details Edit

The story opens with Klink taking a call from General Burkhalter in his office concerning a top secret matter. It is the wrong place to do such a thing, of course, since the office is bugged and the phone is tapped by our Unsung Heroes. Today, however, is Klink's lucky day. The bugs cut out due to bad wiring just at the critical moment, leaving Hogan and Kinch (who are listening) wonder just what was Burhalter's top secret topic of discussion. They are almost interrupted by Schultz, performing a surprise barracks inspection, but Newkirk soon distracts him with the shell game. Eventually Klink shows up to supervise the inspection, and catches Schultz in the act. He accuses Schultz of gambling, claiming to know what the shell game is really all about. Upon hearing Klink's voice, Hogan leaves Kinch to work on the faulty wiring and goes to run interference. He informs Klink that his men and Schultz aren't gambling, but are in fact conducting tests on extrasensory perception (ESP). Supposedly, using the shell game to test ESP is the same technique that a certain Professor Otto von Tillerman used, per Hogan. He also claims that Hitler and other famous German leaders had ESP, and suggests that Klink give the game a try. Klink does, and correctly guesses the right shell. Hogan invites him to do it again, and again Klink is correct. Unnoticed, Kinch walks out of Hogan's office and quietly joins the crowd around Schultz and Klink. Hogan's next test is to have Klink guess a number he's written down on a pad. He hands the blank pad off to Kinch as Klink is concentrating. When Klink guesses a number, Kinch quickly writes it down. Klink suddenly changes his guess, and with a frown Kinch changes the number on the pad before handing it back to Hogan. The wily American colonel the professes surprise at Klink not only having guessed the number, but guessing that he changed it, too. Klink is understandably pleased with his success, and Hogan claims to his men that they're in the presence of a true talent at ESP. Taking Schultz in tow, Klink then leaves without conducting the inspection, amazed at his previously unknown psychic prowess. Once they are gone, Hogan exposes Newkirk's shell game trick -- he had rigged the game so that Klink's guess would have been right no matter which of the shells he picked.

Some time later, Helga enters Klink's inner office on business. Klink tries to mentally divine what has brought her, and guesses she wants to ask for leave. "About two weeks ago," Helga ruefully remarks, then Hogan is shown in. Klink informs him that he and his men are to be confined to the barracks for the next two days, for security reasons. Hogan makes a show of trying to peek at the papers on Klink's desk, but is ordered to stop by Klink. "I am too clever for you," says the German colonel, who then makes the absurd claim that his newly-found precognitive powers can keep him one step ahead of any plan Hogan can make. Hogan is disturbed, but not by Klink's threat. "I think I created a Frankenstein," he half-mutters in reply before leaving. Hogan stops in the outer office to try to pump Helga for information, but she admits that she doesn't know, either. She then shows Hogan a package Klink ordered that has just been delivered from town. It is a book on ESP written by Professor Otto von Tillerman. Hogan is shocked. He admits to Helga he was making the whole ESP thing up. He had no idea there really was a Professor von Tillerman. "I just found out I have ESP, too!" he exclaims.

After Hogan returns to the barracks, Kinch soon returns with his tool box. He has good news and bad news about the burned-out wires for the bugs in Klink's office. They're replaceable, but Kinch needs time to run (and conceal) a new set of wires. "And we're confined to quarters, so that's out," Newkirk quips. Suddenly Carter, who is manning the sink periscope, sings out. Burkhalter has arrived in camp and is headed to Klink's office. They have no way of eavesdropping this time. "If only we could plant a walkie-talkie," Kinch thinks aloud. Hogan's face lights up. "Good idea!" he says. When LeBeau expresses doubt as to how it's going to get inside Klink's inner office, Hogan assures him that somebody else is going to do it. That "somebody" will be Schultz, and Hogan begins laying out his plan to his men. It involves a walkie-talkie, a standard issue German officer's valise, Newkirk's forging skills, and the regularly scheduled barracks inspection, which will not be long in coming ....

Meanwhile, Klink eagerly welcomes Burkhalter in his office. He assures him that all of the requested security measures have been taken, and even confidently assures his superior that his precognitive powers leave no cause for alarm. "I'll be as alarmed as I like," Burkhalter says to him doubtfully, then relaxes as Klink offers to wine and dine him before their official business commences. About the same time, Schultz begins his regular inspection of Barracks 2. Everything seems to be going normally, until he finds what looks like a leather briefcase stuck under a matress in one of the bunks. As he pulls it out, he notices Klink's name painted in gold letters on its side. Horrified, he begins to rush back to Klink's office to report the apparent theft when Hogan holds him up with a faux sob story about how when his widowed mother struggled to raise her family and that in his youth, Hogan had to work day and night to support them, despite only being five years old. He concludes the story by discussing how his youngest brother "Hermann" needed an operation. The saddened Schultz agrees to let the matter drop but before leaving, asks if Hermann managed to have his operation. Hogan casually replies that he did, and that they were able to fund it simply by taking the money out of their bank account. Schultz, gladdened by the news leaves without questioning Hogan's story and slips the briefcase back in Klink's office without saying anything ... although not without a few caustic comments from both Klink and Burkhalter for the interruption. The walkie-talkie now planted, the Unsung Heroes are now able to listen in on everything that the two German officers say concerning their top-secret matter at hand. It concerns a new aircraft that is being flown in to Stalag 13 that afternoon for a demonstration to the Luftwaffe High Command. Parts of its design are top secret. This is why the demonstration is being held at Stalag 13 and not at a Luftwaffe facilty, since the Allies would never dare bomb a POW camp. Even as they continue their discussion, Klink gets a call that the airplane in question is circling the camp, preparing for a landing. Hogan and his men peek outside the barracks door at this news. They can see the plane, but they can't hear it. "A silent plane! Wow ...." Carter intones, and for once everybody agrees with him. This is defintely a problem of which the Allies need to be informed. LeBeau suggests that they blow it up, but Hogan responds that all the Germans have to do is build another one. Carter then suggests that they steal the plane and fly it to England. Hogan shoots down that idea, too - just like German interceptors would do to the plane within five minutes of its theft - but notes the gist of Carter's idea is worth thinking about. After a few minutes pondering, Hogan's trademark grin slowly spreads across his face. "Whenever you smile like that, you've got something good cookin'," Kinch says, also smiling. "We'll wait 'till after dark," Hogan responds.

Hogan's plan is simplicity itself. They don't have to steal the whole plane - only the engine, and only long enough to examine and photograph it. There are plenty of pilots and mechanics among the Unsung Heroes and the Barracks 3 gang who could analyze the engine as it's being disassembled and see exactly what makes it tick. It only takes a quick dash through the emergency tunnel and an hour or so working in the dark, and mostly by feel, but soon enough they have the engine down in the tunnels. They tear it apart, piece by piece, taking photographs and notes as they go, and soon find the engine's secret. "The gas is vaporized in a series of baffle chambers," notes Hogan, then explains to Carter, "It's the same as stuffing your ears with cotton." In short, you couldn't hear a plane with this engine until it was almost on top of you - which would be bad news, if it was put inside a dive bomber or a ground attack/support aircraft. Unfortunately for the Unsung Heroes, General Burkhalter has decided to make a quick check of the plane to make sure it is still secure. Fortunately, it is Klink and not Burkhalter who notices that the plane's engine is missing, and he quickly plants himself in front of the cowling so Burkhalter won't notice it, too. After they return to camp, Klink runs off in a panic to find Hogan, who tells his men to get the engine back together as fast as they can, any way they can, proper assembly or not, so they can get it back to the plane. Hogan then plays on Klink's supposed psychic talents to "lead" him to where his men have convienently left the engine for reinstallation, hidden under a tarp within sight of the plane. Klink has his men secretly put the engine back in without telling Burkhalter, and after returning to the barracks Hogan finishes up his report for Allied High Command.

The next day, representatives of Luftwaffe High Command are present to see their new marvel. "Gentlemen!" says the engine's inventor, Herr Kintzler. "A silent engine!" He then climbs into the cockpit and cranks the starter. The plane begins shaking and wobbling as the engine turns over loudly, spluttering and backfiring all the while. One look from the ranking member of the delegation, and the party from Luftwaffe High Command drives away without looking back.

At episode's end, Klink calls a special formation to inform the POWs that their confinement to barracks is now over. Hogan needles him about the failure of the silent engine test, saying, "I guess it's really not noiseless if you can hear it." Klink claims he predicted it would be a failure due to this ESP, then lauds some of the things in von Tillerman's book - which he happens to be carrying with him. "Is that von Tillerman's book?" Hogan asks nonchalantly. "It must be a collector's item." He then goes on to assert that the good professor is no longer in favor with the Nazi Party and that they are having all copies of his books burned. At once Klink throws his own copy into the nearest burning barrel, and ceremoniously wipes his hands. "Dismissed!" he says to the formation, and with a smile Hogan leads his men back to barracks.

Story Notes Edit

  • This is the twenty-sixth produced episode of the series, but is the twenty-fifth episode to be shown on television (and the twenty-fourth in chronological order).
  • Newkirk draws an uncommonly good caricatures of Carter during one of Schultz's barracks inspections.
  • The bug hidden in the picture of Hitler in Klink's office burns out in this episode. There are prior and subsequent episodes in which our heroes have to devise various ways of eavesdropping on Klink's office without the use of this bug. One can safely assume that Kinch repaired it the first chance he got. They will lose it again later on in How to Win Friends and Influence Nazis.
  • In this episode, the liquor in the glass bottle in Klink's office, from which he and Hogan occasionally drink and which is often served to guests, is French brandy. The type of liquor used will sometimes change, depending on the episode (wine, cognac, etc.) but it is always of French origin - and in keeping with Klink's expensive tastes.
  • This episode helps to establish that the road leading beside and out of Stalag 13's main gate is both long and straight enough on which to land a plane. Corraborating this is The Big Gamble, in which a badly damaged American heavy bomber tries - and fails - to make a crash landing on this same road. This concept is rarely used again, with later episodes dropping occasional (and more believable) references to a small Luftwaffe airfield within driving distance of camp.
  • In some of the outdoor scenes, Newkirk wears his RAF longcoat from The Informer.
  • This episode establishes that Newkirk was an RAF ground technician. He is the one who makes detailed notes on the disassembly of the German's new silent engine for Hogan's report to Allied High Command.

Background Trivia Edit

  • A classic literary character is referenced: the Frankenstein monster, created by author Mary Shelley.
  • Art imitates life: Adolf Hitler actually was a student of ESP and occultist studies. He was also a student of astrology, which will be mentioned in later episodes.
  • The shell game, which goes by a variety of names and comes in a variety of forms (such as three card monte, a version done with playing cards) is one of the oldest confidence tricks known to Western civilization. Newkirk probably learned it during his vaudeville days.
  • The walkie-talkies used in this episode are actual World War II type Motorola AM SCR-536 models. These were invented by Motorola engineers for use by the U.S. Army in the field. This particular model is frequently cited as the ancestor of the cell phone. The basic technology is still in use today, largely in the civilian and law enforcement sectors.
  • During the scene where Hogan claims that Hitler has ESP, Carter does his comb-and-hair spot impersonation while LeBeau assumes one of the Fuhrer's famous photograph poses.
  • Since his character does not wear gloves in this episode, actor Larry Hovis (Carter) uses a variety of tricks to hide his wedding ring. These include standing with his hands in his pockets, folding his arms with his left hand (with the ring) tucked out of sight, manning the sink periscope at an angle that keeps his left hand turned away from the camera, frequently keeping his hands "below frame," and so on. His actions seem so natural that typical viewers would not notice unless they knew for what to look.
  • LeBeau plays "Beautiful Dreamer" on the harmonica during Hogan's sob story.
  • Hogan demonstrates Anthony's Law of Force during this episode - "Don't force it, use a larger hammer."
  • An uncredited Ben Wright appears as the senior representative from Luftwaffe High Command. Wright would later return to the series in the semi-recurring role of SS Major Feldkamp.
  • Hogan deliberately misquotes George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion (or the musical version My Fair Lady, depending on your frame of reference). The actual quote is: "By Jove, I think she's got it."
  • Klink "washes his hands" of his copy of von Tillerman's book on ESP after burning it. This gesture has its origins with Pontius Pilate washing his hands after ordering the crucifixion of Christ.

Timeline Notes and Speculations Edit

  • This is the twenty-fourth episode in chronological order, per the series timeline. It takes place after German Bridge is Falling Down, and is followed by The Prince from the Phone Company.
  • There are no definite clues available for determining the date of this episode. Four factors allow a date of winter 1942-43 to be inferred. First, this is definitely a "cold" episode, as a burning barrel meant for warmth figures prominently in the last scene. Second, much of the technology for advanced German aircraft, such as their jet fighters and rocket interceptors, was still in the testing phase in 1943 - as is depicted with the fictional silent engine in this story. Third, Klink's amply stocked larder - from which he offers to share with his superior, General Burkhalter - would have been a lot harder to fill with exotic foodstuffs in 1944 than it would have in 1943. Fourth, General Burkhalter admits that Germany might now be losing the war - which definitely makes this a post El Alamein episode (some fans even assert post Stalingrad).
  • There is a stock picture hanging on one of the walls in Klink's office that shows a crashed World War I airplane just outside of a hangar. This picture can also be seen in subsequent episodes. It might be a picture of the airplane crash in which Klink was involved during the Great War, as mentioned in Will the Blue Baron Strike Again?
  • Another stock picture hanging in Klink's office is that of a Heinkel He-111E in flight. We will later learn that Klink was at one time a Heinkel pilot. This picture might be of the plane that he flew as a pilot in the 410th Bomber Squadron.

Quotes Edit

Burkhalter calls Klink, who answers in his usual obsequious manner ....

  • Klink (to phone) - Yes, General Burkhalter ... top secret?! Sir! I want you to know how much you appreciate your trust in me ... (expression melts) ... oh, you had no other choice. Yes, sir.

Carter tells Klink that Hogan is taking a nap ....

  • Klink (shouting) - Colonel Hogan!
  • Hogan (yawning as he enters the room) - What is it, colonel? You caught me right in the middle of a great dream!
  • LeBeau (grinning) - The blonde again?
  • Hogan - Oh, redhead this time.

(LeBeau whistles, does his Maurice Chevalier laugh. Everyone else save Klink smiles knowingly)

  • Klink (firmly) - To use an American expression, while you were asleep at the switch [wheel - ed], I uncovered a fly in the ointment. (laughs) What do you have to say about that?
  • Hogan - Well, for one thing, colonel, you're mixing your metaphors.

Klink is in his inner office, expecting Hogan. He suddenly hears Helga squeal in delight.

  • Helga (exclaiming) - Owww! Colonel Hogan!

(Hogan enters. Klink glowers at him.)

  • Klink - Hogan, what happened?
  • Hogan (after a beat) - I told her a joke.
  • Klink (evenly) - You did? I would like to hear it.
  • Hogan (somewhat nervously) - You wouldn't like to hear it.
  • Klink (firmly) - Yes I would. Go on.
  • Hogan (hesitantly) - All right. Goebbels and Goring were having lunch one day with ... ah, whats-his-name, ummm ....

(Hogan throws a Nazi salute with his right hand while holding two fingers up to his upper lip, indicating a small moustache.)

  • Klink (low but irritated) - Hitler!
  • Hogan - That's the fella. Anyway, Goring said, "Fuhrer, do you know what you look like without that moustache?"
  • Klink (interrupting) - Never mind! Never mind!
  • Hogan - Told ya you wouldn't like it.

Klink offers Burkhalter some samplings from his own private hoard of goods ...

  • Klink - Now how about some Polish sausage? Some Norewgian sardines? Some Danish cheese?

(Burkhalter picks up one of Klink's cigars, sniffs it, and wrinkles his nose in disgust.)

  • Burkhalter - Yeech.
  • Klink - I'm sorry, it's a German cigar.
  • Burkhalter - We should have taken Cuba.

(Klink nods his head in agreement)

Concerning the new plane being flown in to Stalag 13 ....

  • Burkhalter - If it does all he [the designer] claims, it will make a big difference in the course of the war. (ruefully) We might even win.
  • Klink (fawning) - General Burkhalter, I cannot tell you how personally proud I am that you've selected MY camp for this demonstration.
  • Burkhalter (brusquely) - It has nothing to do with you.
  • Klink (disappointed) - Oh.

General Burkhalter is on his way to check the plane one last time before he goes to bed, Klink tagging along behind him. They are almost at the main gate when Klink speaks up ....

  • Klink - There's nothing to worry about, Herr General. I gave orders to shoot anyone who comes near the plane. Shoot first, and ask questions later. That's what I said.
  • Burkhalter (stopping and suddenly looking alarmed) - Shoot ANYONE?
  • Klink (proudly) - Anyone!

(Burkhalter suddenly runs back to the nearest sentry shack, Klink on his heels)

  • Burkhalter (irritated) - Don't you think you'd better recall that order before we go near that plane?
  • Klink (not understanding) - What?

(Klink looks around the corner, and then suddenly his mind clicks into place.)

  • Klink - Yes, sir!

Hogan shows his men a quick and easy way to reassemble the engine - with a hammer.

  • LeBeau - I think you forced it.
  • Hogan - It's a German plane. All it understands is force.

After the engine test fails ....

  • Newkirk - They call that a noiseless engine?
  • Kinch - Maybe he's using cheap gas.
  • Hogan - By George, I don't think he's got it.

Klink tries to gloat during the episode's last roll call.

  • Klink (bravado) - So you call yourselves soldiers?
  • Carter - Uh, no sir. We're prisoners of war.

Bloopers Edit

  • The plane that circles the camp appears to be a single-seater with a twin tail configuration and bottom-mounted forward wing. The plane that appears on the ground in all closeups has a top-mounted forward wing over the cockpit and a normal tail configuration. In other words, the plane in the air and the plane on the ground don't look anything like each other.

External links Edit

Previous episode:
How to Cook a German Goose by Radar
Next episode:
The Prince from the Phone Company

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