You know you’re in for a great time when the creative team behind the movie Airplane head to the small screen to create a show that spoofs police procedurals. That’s exactly what happened in 1982, when David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker created Police Squad! starring Leslie Nielsen. If it’s a show you haven’t heard of then that’s understandable, as it was cancelled after only six episodes; however, odds are you’ve heard of the film (and eventual trilogy) it spawned just six years later – The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!
Police Squad! is filled with the same sight gags and non-sequiturs that were found in Airplane, and there’s just so much happening in each episode when it comes to comedy that multiple viewings are a must. There’s a great mix of jokes involving wordplay, physical comedy, witty dialogue and while some of it is predictable (more so because we’re used to it now; however, that doesn’t make it any less hilarious thanks to Nielson’s brilliant comedic timing) other jokes are so wonderfully subtle in their delivery that they’re both easy to miss if you’re laughing at something else, yet also some of the show’s best bits.
The show stars Nielson as Detective Frank Drebin and Alan North as Captain Ed Hocken. Each episode runs at about 25-minutes in length and sees Drebin and Hocken trying to solve a crime that takes place at the start of each show. During this time the audience is treated to an enormous amount of comedic genius that still stands up perfectly to this day.
Don’t let the small amount of episodes fool you, as this show is one that was cancelled far too soon. That being the case, Police Squad! The Complete Series is still two and a half hours of fantastic comedy showcasing the untouchable spoofing skills of Nielson. Whether you’re a fan of Nielson, the Naked Gun films or simply love laughing your ass off, then this is a set you must own.
The series looks great in this 1080p transfer! There’s some grain, which is to be expected, but it all has a feel for the time. That and its 4:3 ration is really the only part of this release that makes it feel dated, as the humour and acting is all still top tier stuff. The audio is solid pretty much across the board, and the release as a whole is just a required buy for comedy fans.
Audio Commentaries: There are three commentary tracks to be found here, which is great. Two of them involve David and Jerry Zucker, as well as Robert K. Weiss, and the other has actor Robert Wuhl. All are worth a listen!
Gag Reel – There’s a five minute gag reel here, which is awesome. I can only imagine how fun a set like this would be.
Leslie Nielson Interview – This is an interview with Nielson that’s just under 9-minutes long, but is a must watch. Such a great actor, and here he talks about working on the show, as well as touching on its premature cancellation. Definitely a must watch feature.
Behind the Freeze Frames – This is a four and a half minute featurette that focuses on the freeze frame endings the show has, which is a great gag.
Casting Test: Ed Williams – This is the screen test for scientist Ted Olson.
Casting Test: Alan North – This is a 6-minute screen test of North testing for Hocken.
Producers Photo Gallery – This is a good little bit that should be watched.
List of Celebrity Death Shots – Here we have two pages with 17 deaths of celebrities outlined and ready to go.
Production Memo Highlights – Another fun bit that lists alterations made to please the censors.
Paramount Pictures Presents Police Squad! The Complete Series. Starring: Leslie Nielson, Alan North. Running time: 150 Minutes. Rating: PG. Released on Blu-ray: Apr. 14, 2020.
Tags: Airplane, Leslie Nielson, Police Squad