There are a few connotations that come with April the Twentieth, each of which has the potential for a special themed post:

1) That whole marijuana thing.

2) Hitler’s birthday.

3) Tragic violent events a la Columbine (often inspired by #2).

4) Giant squid battle from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea!*

I decided to go with #2 for a few reasons.

  1. I don’t really want to be depressing, so #3 is out.
  2. There’s not a whole lot I can come up with to talk about regarding #1 since most of what I watch is on network or basic cable.
  3. There is a lot I can do with #2.

So, I give you: Nazis on television.

Nazis are big. They pop up in all sorts of unexpected places on television. I chalk it up to the fact that, in our post-WWII world, they’re everyone’s favorite go-to bad guy. (Seriously. They’re only just now being replaced. By skinheads/neo-Nazis. So, yeah.) By literal, historical definition, they make a great enemy. As a symbol, they’re maybe even better. So, here’s a list of some television episodes featuring Nazis or quasi-Nazis:

“Triangle” (The X-Files, S6E3)

This is one of my very favorite episodes of The X-Files. Of anything, actually – I even bought it from iTunes and stuck it on my iPod to watch when I’m bored/on a long trip. Unlike most of the other episodes on this list, “Triangle” involves real Nazis when they really existed. Mulder (David Duchovny) goes to the Bermuda Triangle to track down a ghost ship and finds it taken over by the Germans, who are looking for a secret weapon that will win them the war. It’s a fun episode, even if you know nothing else about the series. Recognizeable faces popping up in the wrong places, a soundtrack involving The Andrews Sisters, some AWESOME cinematography and performance, and a delightfully ambiguous conclusion.

“Hero” (Angel, S1E9)

[full episode available at]

For reasons totally unrelated to my 4/20 theme, this is probably the first most pivotal episode of Angel as a series – certainly the first most pivotal of the first season. Angel (David Boreanaz) and team find themselves caught up in a demon war. A militant group of demons calling themselves “The Scourge” have made it their mission to track down and wipe out any half-demons or part-demons – those of “impure” blood. See the Nazi-ness? They also wear creepily Nazi-like uniforms and their leader gives scary speeches to a crowd of soldiers up against a background of flags with a suspiciously swastika-like insignia. As a fan of the whole series, I find “Hero” heartbreaking. But even from an outsider’s perspective, it is pretty damn unsettling.

“Why We Fight” (Angel, S5E13)

This is the one other episode on this list that involves real Nazis in the appropriate time period. No time-travel involved, though, just a good ol’ fashioned flashbacks (because with vampire characters who live forever, you get to flashback multiple decades!). A vampire who Angel turned during WWII comes back with a thirst for vengeance, capturing Angel’s friends and forcing him to re-live and retell a wartime anecdote. Angel himself was not a Nazi, of course, but he was working for the Americans and on a mission to invade a Nazi submarine. Which he does…only to find demons there instead. There’s a pretty specific context for the episode within the wider season- and series-long narrative. But, as a standalone piece, it’s just good entertainment.

“The Killing Game (Parts 1&2)” (Star Trek Voyager, S4E18&E19)**

“The Killing Game, Part 2” is one of the first episodes I ever saw of Voyager when I began watching in earnest, so it’s got sentimental value for me in that sense. But, more importantly, it sticks in my memory because “The Killing Game” (both parts) is DAMN good. Voyager and its crew are taken over by an alien species called the Hirogen, whose culture is based on hunting. The Hirogen take control of the Holodecks and use them to recreate scenes of violence from Earth’s history. Like, say, France in WWII, The Resistance (Voyager’s crew) vs. the occupying Nazis (Holodeck characters and the Hirogen). The narrative of this two-parter is absolutely fantastic, balancing the parallels of the on-ship and historical storylines beautifully and putting so much work into detail that even crazed history buffs can’t be too displeased.

“Yarzheit” (CSI: NY, S5E22)

For the most part, CSI: NY episodes are run-of-the-mill procedural fodder. But every once in awhile, there are some that stick out as just plain chilling. This is one. The possessions of Holocaust victims, neo-Nazis (including character Michael Elgers, played by Matt McTighe, who recurs from an earlier S5 episode “Green Piece”), and the crimes of historical Nazis are all major elements of “Yarzheit.” Most of the episode is from the point of view of the CSIs looking back and being disgusted by Nazi conduct, but there are also a few flashbacks showing the dramatized actions directly to the audience. It’s a fascinating episode of CSI for those who enjoy the forensic episode, a sensitive piece of storytelling for those who like to feel their history, and the ending is one of few from any CSI that truly rocked me.

These are just some example of Nazi/WWII/Holocaust-themed episodes that really resonated with me and stuck in my mind. I’m sure if I took the time to research, I’d find a good many more. The theme is a favorite stand-by for stories from the past half century, because of the emotion-tapping connotations that come readymade.

To conclude this post, I feel it is important in this PC-crazed world that I state straight out that I do not like Nazis. Hitler and his followers were bad.


Enjoy the rest of your April 20.

*I’m totally just joking about #4. That’s just a thing I realized. And that is my favorite book. (Yes, I do actually read books.)

**If you’re interested, it seems that someone has posted “The Killing Game” on YouTube in several parts. Probably not legal, so I’m not outrightly suggesting anything. But it’s there, fyi.

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