One of my favorite things about the 1st season of Wonder Woman are the accents: everyone sounds like they’re working on their audition reel for Mel Brooks. The variety of regional and foreign accents that get the mouth-full-of-marbles treatment on Wonder Woman is pretty broad, but I think it’s safe to say that German fares the worst.
Husband says the actors all sound like they studied at the Harvey Korman School of Accent Approximation.
I was looking for an appropriate clip of Korman and found the most amazing thing: a skit from a 1974 episode of The Carol Burnett Show (7.21) called “The Interrogator.” Korman and guest star Tim Conway play Nazis holding co-star Lyle Waggoner prisoner! It’s kind of long, but you ought to stick with it at least until the Hitler hand puppet starts singing, if only to watch Lyle Waggoner desperately struggling not to laugh.
See also: TV Tropes: Those Wacky Nazis for a little background on the proliferation of Nazis as foils in American comedy.
If you wish to dig deeper, there’s some interesting scholarship on the ways that television creators in the 1970s used depictions of Nazis to critique the Vietnam War and militarism without running afoul of conservative network executives and skittish advertisers. One book which colleagues have recommended to me (but which I’ve yet to actually read) is Hogan’s Heroes by Robert R. Shandley:
Hogan’s Heroes originally aired between 1965 and 1971 on CBS, corresponding to the most uncertain years of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. In an era when attitudes about the military, patriotism, and authority were undergoing a sea change, Hogan’s Heroes did not offer direct commentary on the conflict, but instead explored incompetent military leaders, draft dodging, and perpetual war in an absurd storyline about Allied saboteurs inside a World War II German prisoner of war camp. In Hogan’s Heroes, author Robert Shandley argues that the series reveals much about the parameters of comedy on militarism and war before the popularity of comedic social realism that would define later programs, like the more critically acclaimed M*A*S*H.
As always, if you have thoughts, comments, or questions, leave them on my facebook page or find me on twitter (@meanlouise).
Tune in tomorrow for “Fausta, the Nazi Wonder Woman!”