22 March 2008

Hogan's Heroes

Ivan Dixon died last weekend.

Here's what TIME has to say.

Dixon, of course, was "Kinch," or on formal occasions Sgt. Kinchloe, on the old situation-comedy "Hogan's Heroes." I intend no disrespect, but I'm noting his passing chiefly because it gives me a chance to say something about that sitcom in general.

It operated at two very different levels. There was the in-the-barracks (ITB) stuff, and the in-commandant's-office (ICO) stuff. For the most part, the ICO was superb. You'd have three fine actors: Bob Crane, Werner Klemperer, and usually John Banner as Schultz, playing off one another like old vaudeville partners. At best, it had an improv feel to it.

On the other hand, the ITB stuff was time-filling kitsch. There were the usual ethnic stereotypes -- a Limey, a frog ... then there was the clean-cut Sidney Poitier guess-who's-coming-to-dinner black guy, which was Dixon's role -- and for good measure there was a naive white rural kid whose father ran a drugstore in some unnamed town. (A redneck before Foxworthy had approved of that word for television.)

The stereotypes said the stereotypical things, and the plot creaked forward, relieved only by the moments when the three real talents of the show would find themselves together again, and we'd be back at the ICO level.

I've now displayed the fact taht I've spent much too much of my life watching such stuff, and it may seem that I've been less than gracious to the dearly departed as well. Of course I mean no offense to Dixon, who probably did the best he could with the hackish lines he was given to read.

Rest in peace, then.

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.