written by Laurence Marks
directed by Gene Reynolds
episode number 6604, 5784-35
season 2, episode 4
General Stauffen - Oscar Berengi
Major Gunther - Willard Sage
Hercules - Barry Ford
Sgt. Wilson, the medic - Eddie Firestone
Guard who lends Carter a flashlight - Peter Hellmann
Checkpoint sentry - Chris Anders
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The Mission - An agent is going to airdrop near camp
with a special briefcase bomb. Hogan's job is to pass that briefcase on
to General Stauffen, a German officer who is coming to inspect Stalag 13.
The general is part of a conspiracy to assassinate Hitler.
The Plan - Plan #1: Hogan must switch briefcases with
the General at a cocktail party. While Newkirk runs a roulette game in
the barracks which diverts Schultz, Kinch and Le Beau climb up on the roof
of Klink's quarters in order to cut the power and hand the briefcase in
the window. Carter distracts the guard in front by convincing him to help
find a pet mouse.
When the general is leaving, Schultz accidentally activates
the bomb, so Hogan hurriedly comes up with:
Plan #2: Hogan reports two prisoners as escaped and convinces
Klink to set up roadblocks, effectively halting the general on the road.
Hogan then accompanies Schultz in a truck to go look for the escapees.
When he gets to the roadblock, he deactivates the bomb with 15 seconds
Bad guys - None, except for Hitler, of course.
Good guys - Hercules, the British agent who dies bringing
the briefcase to Stalag 13. The general and his aide are not Allies, but
they are working for the same cause in this case.
Where have I seen you before? - Eddie Firestone, who
plays the prisoners' medic, has played several other prisoners, including
Miller ("Standing Room Only") and Scotty ("Go Light On The Heavy Water").
Oscar Beregi played Herr Schneer in "The Meister Spy." Willard Sage played
Lt. Dolentz in " Hogan's Hofbrau," Captain Berger in "The Tower," and Captain
Kreuger in "How To Escape From A Prison Camp Without Really Trying." Peter
Hellmann played a Gestap officer in "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way
To London." Chris Anders also played Captain Franz, Burkhalter's aide,
in "Nights in Shining Armor" and Hermann in "War Takes A Holiday." He also
played a guard in "The Kamikazis Are Coming."
Killer dialogue -
Schultz: (to Kinch) Nothing is more important than role
call! Where were you?
Kinch: I was getting a message from London on our secret
Schultz: Well, as long as you have a good excuse.
Klink: Now men, I have a very important announcment to
Newkirk: Hey, they're gonna surrender!
Le Beau: Smart move.
Carter: (to the prisoner next to him) Hey, the Krauts
are gonna surrender!
Prisoner: Who told you?
Carter: I just heard it!
Klink: Colonel Hogan, control your men.
Hogan: I can't, sir, the news of your surrender is--
Klink: Who said anything about a surrender?!
Hogan: You did, sir.
Hogan: Just now! You used the word yourself!
Klink: Only to deny it!
Hogan: Well, it had to start somewhere.
Stauffen: You Americans apparently have no capacity for
Hogan: I'm a buttermilk man myself.
Gadgets and toys - A mostly gadget-free episode, except
for the briefcase bomb, of course. The briefcase had a hollow bottom and
sides filled with a special light-weight explosive. The timer is in the
latch. When you fasten the bottom latch, the bomb will go off in thirty
Trivia - The license number on the truck from Stalag
13 is WH 39495.
Continuity - This episode refers to an actual historical
event, an attempt on Hitler's life July 20, 1944. The actual would-be assassin
was Count von Stauffenberg, a colonel attached to the German General Staff.
The writers of this episode obviously borrowed the name for their character
from the real person. Newkirk runs a roulette-style game in the barracks
in this show; in other shows he has run craps, poker, and the shell game.
He also cheats and usually wins, although he has been beaten soundly at
gin rummy by Carter. Carter has a pet mouse named Felix ("about this long,
nice smile"), perhaps the same one Newkirk supposedly stole in "Bombsight."
The guard who helps Carter search for Felix is married and has two children,
one of whom is a seven year old girl named Joanna. Klink receives the Citation
of Merit, 2nd Class, from General Stauffen. The code name "Hercules" is
also used in "Kommandant Schultz" and in "The Big Broadcast." Those are
different characters, of course, since in in this episode, Hercules dies
delivering the briefcase to Stalag 13, one of the few times death is dealt
with so directly during an episode. Hogan's branch of the service is the
US Army Air Force, according to Klink. Barracks 3 is visible outside the
front door of Hogan's barracks, although there shouldn't be any barracks
visible out that door.
Always in character - It's the mark of a well-written
episode when the actions of the characters are not simply streotypes. This
is such an episode. Carter doesn't act dopey, he acts innocent and guileless.
This is one of his strengths within the group, and he uses that ability
to create a diversion. Newkirk also uses his talents for fast talking and
gambling, but they aren't just thrown in there for easy laughs; his actions
are an integral part of the plan. Next time you see an episode where the
characterizations aren't handled in this way, remember "Operation Briefcase"
as an example of how it should be done.
My take - This is a marvelous episode with just the
right combination of seriousness and comedy. The death of Hercules at the
beginning of the show and the somber reactions from the prisoners are unusually
emotional moments. The other dark scenes, such as when Stauffen promises
that he and the other generals will remove Hitler from power and Hogan
reminds him that it was those same generals who put him into power in the
first place, are also excellent. Oscar Beregi plays the part to perfection,
never letting the general lose his arrogance and selfishness (note
how little he seems to care that a man died to bring him the briefcase).
The darker moments are wonderfully offset with some truly delightful comedy
scenes. The guard crawling around looking for the missing pet mouse, all
the while talking about his children with Carter, is priceless. Klink's
award ceremony, with a line of guards who chant "Rah rah rah!" on command
and the pained look on Schultz's face, is great fun. These comedy scenes
never descend into slapstick, however. This is one of the better episodes
of the series.*****