Wednesday, April 26, 2006

"Cigarette?" "Yes, it is."

Davis DVD reports that the series "Police Squad!" is finally being prepared for DVD release. David Zucker says he (and presumably Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams) will be recording audio commentary.

While "Police Squad!" only lasted six episodes, I think you could make a case that it should have had an even shorter run than that. The pilot, written and directed by Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker, did a great job of demolishing every '60s and '70s cop-show cliché, helped by Leslie Nielsen's most awesomely deadpan performance ever. (Unlike in the Naked Gun movies, the TV version of Frank Drebin never actually did anything remotely funny; he was, as far as he and everyone else was concerned, a serious, solemn, super-competent cop -- and that's what made it funny: Frank had no clue that he wasn't on a serious cop show.) But the following five episodes were all basically remakes of the pilot, following the same formula, with many of the same jokes repeated (like the Johnny the shoeshine boy routine). That's the problem with doing a continuing series where actual character development, or any real interest in the story, is not possible; unlike Maxwell Smart and 99, you couldn't actually care what happened to Frank Drebin. But it's worth getting for the pilot and some of the better-known jokes from the subsequent episodes, several of which were repeated in The Naked Gun. (Stripper: "Is this some kind of bust?" Drebin: "Yes, it's very impressive, but we need to ask you some questions.")


Anonymous said...

Your comment about what made the Frank Drebin character funny on the TV series is very much on target. Certainly Leslie Nielsen didn't get it, since part of what hurt the three Naked Gun movies, as well as other post-Naked Gun projects he's been involved with was that he insisted on playing Drebin funny rather than playing him straight.

Tony Collett said...

Good article, but shouldn't the reply in the headline be "Yes, I know"?

VP81955 said...

Good article, but shouldn't the reply in the headline be "Yes, I know"?

I'm sure both were used during the six-episode run. I recall using the "Cigarette?" "Yes, it is." as a headline (the former flush left, the latter flush right) for a story on smoking regulations in a trade paper I edited at the time...though I'm sure few people, if any, got the joke.

It'll be great to have "Police Squad!" on DVD...Frank Drebin, O.J.-free.

Anonymous said...

My favorite Police Squad joke...Frank is working undercover, posing as a locksmith to get close to a local crime boss. At one point he lets himself into the bad guy's place...

Bad guy: Who are you? How did you get in here?

Frank: I'm a locksmith. And...I'm a locksmith.

Pure gold. And am I the only one who has trouble watching Nielsen in his early career? I mean every time I see him in a "straight" role it always makes me think I am watching a parody. Cf. "Tammy and the Bachelor."

Anonymous said...

I never saw the final episode of Sledgehammer in the second season until the dvd and I can see why it lasted longer that Police squad. I was surprised that things got dramatic but that is why it was compared more to Get smart. You cared about the characters and Sledge changed in the end. The same actor was very good in the United 93 movie.