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Paramount Studios presents
Police Squad!: The Complete Series (1982)

Mrs. Twice: Oh, poor Ralph! Do you know what it's like to be married to a wonderful man for 14 years?
Det. Frank Drebin: No, I can't say that I do. I did live with a guy once, though, but that was just for a couple of years. The usual slurs, rumors, innuendoes... people didn't understand. Ran him out of town like a common pygmy.

- (Barbara Tarbuck, Leslie Nielsen)

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: November 07, 2006

Stars: Leslie Nielsen, Alan North
Other Stars: Rex Hamilton, Peter Lupus, Ed Williams, William Duell, Lorne Greene, Georg Stanford Brown, Rudy Solari, Robert Goulet, Tommy Lasorda, William Shatner, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Florence Henderson, William Conrad, Dick Clark, Dick Miller, Barbara Tarbuck, Kathryn Leigh Scott
Director: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, Joe Dante, Georg Stanford Brown, Paul Krasny, Reza Badiyi

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 02hm:30m:06s
Release Date: November 07, 2006
UPC: 097360475142
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AC+B- B-

DVD Review

Borrowing from their successful Airplane! playbook of sight gags, puns, and just plain goofy dialogue, the creative team of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker moved to television in 1982 with the unexpectedly short-lived Police Squad!, a send-up of those old Quinn Martin Production police shows of the 1970s. With just six episodes (a couple of which were directed by Joe Dante), the show operated on shovels full of comically inane principles, from the opening credits where the big name guest star would invariably die to the closing credits "freeze frame" shot, except here the actors just pretended by standing still.

The crime-of-the-week plots weren't really essential, and were basically just placeholders for the steady stream of nonsense humor. It gave Leslie Nielsen—an actor who began his career playing serious, mostly forgettable dramatic roles—the memorable part of detective Frank Drebin, the cluelessly inept character that would eventually show up in the slightly more successful Naked Gun film series. An evolutionary advancement from his Airplane! character, his spot-on deadpan delivery and comic timing seem tailor-made for this type of cornball material, and all of the silliness that goes on just seems sillier when Nielsen's Drebin is onscreen. Better yet when he's paired up with his sad sack boss Captain Ed Hocken (Alan North), whose freeze-frame talents are little bits of comic brilliance.

The Zucker-Abrams-Zucker mindset is all about quantity, as jokes and visuals are slathered on one after the other, operating on the Mel Brooks school of thought that if you throw enough out there, something will eventually stick. And thankfully more sticks here than doesn't, and little things like the presence of a gun-toting Abraham Lincoln (Rex Hamilton) in the opening credits is just one of those recurring bits of atypical weirdness.

I'll never understand how this lasted only six episodes, but maybe in hindsight that wasn't such a bad thing, because what we're left with is a half dozen pieces of great television comedy, itself a rarity (if you ask me). There wasn't time for the series to grow stagnant or tired, and by the time the Naked Gun films came around it all kind of seemed fresh again. This collection of the show's entire run is a dandy little glimmer of how could television could have been, or at least was for a very brief time.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: All episodes are presented in their original aspect ratio, and what we're given isn't all that spectacular. They carry quite a bit of grain, and edge details are very soft throughout; ditto for the overall color scheme, which appears noticeably muted. Frequent flicker is another issue to contend with, and it's unfortunate that the series didn't get a better restoration.

Mediocre, at best.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The original English mono track is available for all you traditionalists—and it sounds decent enough, albeit rather flat—but the new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is worth checking out, where the benefit is on the horn-heavy score, which really sounds big and full-bodied here. The majority of the presentation stays up front, with voices sounding clear at all times, and the new mix is pleasant without being excessively flashy.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 30 cues and remote access
6 Featurette(s)
3 Feature/Episode commentaries by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, Robert K. Weiss, Robert Wuhl
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Three commentary tracks are aboard for this release, two of which feature creators Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker, along with producer Robert K. Weiss, for the episodes A Substantial Gift and The Butler Did It. Voice quality is a little sketchy, sounding kind of muffled, and they ramble on about some problems with the network and poke fun at the show, but mostly reiterate what is being shown onscreen. The other bummer is the amount of dead air (especially during The Butler Did It). The third commentary has writer Robert Wuhl for Testimony of Evil, and the voice quality on this one also sounds like he's talking into a stuffed sock, but it is more cohesive and informative than the other tracks.

The rest of the extras are an odd lot of apparently random leftovers with a few goodies thrown in, beginning with a rough-looking Gag Reel (04m:56s), a Leslie Nielsen Interview (08m:40s), Casting Test: Ed Williams (02m:50s) and Casting Test: Alan North (06m:02s). The good stuff includes Behind the Freeze Frames (04m:30s), a rare bit of footage originally intended for a Police Squad! movie in which the trademark freeze-frame ending has a crowded courtroom literally burning down around Drebin and Hocken. The clip features Zucker, Abrams, Zucker voiceover as well. Producers' Photo Gallery (:58s) is an automated stills collection of scenery, sets, and props that scrolls horizontally, and the kind of fun Production Memo Highlights, which includes a variety pack of studio communications from Standards & Practices about dialogue changes, doctrine about the dress code, an insistence on no laugh track, and even the series cancellation notice. List of Celebrity Death Shots is a weird one, as it apparently deals with how the opening celebrity deaths would be handled. Strangely enough, the only celebrity mentioned by name is John Belushi (technically it just says Belushi), whose actual death kind of put a damper on appearing in the series.

Each episode is cut into five chapters, and there are no subtitle options available.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

I liked it, and it got canceled. Typical.

Just six episodes, but finally the series sees release on DVD, and though the image quality is a little snarky, the gags and humor are still as hilariously dumb. This is one funny show.

Highly recommended.

 


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