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Police Squad! In Color
January 27, 2009 12:05 PM   Subscribe

In 1982, the comedy team of Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker introduced Police Squad! to network TV viewers. It lasted six episodes before being cancelled. What, you missed it? You weren't even born? Here are episodes two, three, and four.

• More clips: 1 2 3.

• A compilation of episode epilogues.

• The Police Squad series spawned three successful spinoff movies (clip 1, clip 2 [interspersed with Airplane! clips], Siskel and Ebert review), but lesser known spinoffs included a series of advertisements in the UK for Red Rock Cider. (Leslie Nielsen also starred in a series of commercials broadcast in Holland for Dutchtone: 1 2 3.)

Leslie Nielsen also farted on a morning show in the UK. Turn up the volume.

The DVD's pretty cheap, too.
posted by not_on_display (84 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Club Flamingo sight gag is still one of the best delayed laughs I have ever had.
posted by zzazazz at 12:08 PM on January 27, 2009


You forgot the InColor tag.
posted by bondcliff at 12:12 PM on January 27, 2009


I admit I never sat down and watched the show, but the credit rolls were hilarious. They totally took 1970s TV credits to the cleaners.
posted by crapmatic at 12:15 PM on January 27, 2009


Thursday.
posted by DU at 12:15 PM on January 27, 2009


.
posted by Damn That Television at 12:16 PM on January 27, 2009


Leslie Nielsen also appears in (among other things, I assume) an episode of MASH. I remember when I came across it I was all "oh man this is going to be SO GREAT". Except it was a straight role. Confused the hell out of me.
posted by DU at 12:20 PM on January 27, 2009


They were pretty much responsible for O.J. Simpson's movie "career", but the movies were great nonetheless.

Nice beaver!
posted by tommasz at 12:20 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


There is a moment during The Poseiden Adventure when Leslie Nielsen, then the straightest of straight guy actors, playing the captain of the doomed ship, looks out a the tidal wave rolling toward him that will kill him and overturn his pleasure cruiser, and then turns to his first mate and says "Oh, by the way, happy New Year."

It is the funniest moment in his career.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:23 PM on January 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


If you've seen Airplane! and the Naked Gun films a lot of the jokes will seem old, but this show is a classic. I don't think it's possible to cram more stupid gags into one show. My favorite running gag was the shoeshine boy who knew the word on the street about everything from theology to firefighting, especially the episode where Dick Clark asked him what Ska was.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:25 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Surely this post isn't serious.
posted by GuyZero at 12:25 PM on January 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's dead serious. And don't call me Shirley.
posted by GuyZero at 12:25 PM on January 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


Penn State - State Pen

"Tell that bomber to take off!"

Al.

It was truly too good for TV.
posted by djrock3k at 12:26 PM on January 27, 2009


I came across Leslie Nielsen as Revolutionary War hero Francis "Swamp Fox" Marion one night on TV. It was...strange.
posted by pointystick at 12:36 PM on January 27, 2009


In 2008, the comedy director purveyor of shit like Superhero Movie David Zucker introduced An American Carol to American film viewers morons.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:38 PM on January 27, 2009


Except it was a straight role. Confused the hell out of me.

Leslie Nielsen also played Commander JJ Adams, in Forbidden Planet. "We're all part monsters in our subconscious, so we have laws and religion!"
posted by veedubya at 12:38 PM on January 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


One of the reasons advanced for the cancellation of Police Squad! was that the viewer 'had to pay attention', and the networks didn't want any part of that.
posted by pjern at 12:39 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I read somewhere that when Zucker approached Nielson with the idea, Nielson said, "Wouldn't it be better if you got someone funny?"
posted by roll truck roll at 12:42 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Exactly, pjern. Mr. Adams and I just recently watched the DVD of this series (I'd watched it when it originally aired, but didn't remember much) and, just like Airplane!, there was always something going on, whether a clever pun in the dialog or a sidescreen sight gag or even a humorous label on a filing cabinet in the background. Far too much for viewers to concentrate on (admittedly, we made liberal use of the rewind button in order to verify "Did you see...?" or "What was that guy in the background doing?")

Another "trademark" of the series that cracked me up was the final freeze frame while the credits rolled. Only it wasn't an actual freeze frame; it was Nielson and his co-star playing "statues" and holding still while everyone else in the background continued to move.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:45 PM on January 27, 2009


Leslie Nielsen also farted on a morning show in the UK.

It's a gag. He's been bringing that gadget along with him to talk show appearances for years.I've got to give him props, though, for not letting on to the hosts that it was a joke in that clip.

Also, my brother and I loved Police Squad!. I think it was the fake freeze-frame endings that clinched it for us. After it was canned, we wouldn't see such delicious absurdity on our TV screen again until Get a Life, nearly a decade later.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:46 PM on January 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


I was on my honeymoon when, over a bottle of champagne, my new wife and I got (temporarily) stuck on the opening starring credits, including Florence Henderson getting machine-gunned in the kitchen. Wow.
posted by CollectiveMind at 12:55 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow. Only 6 episodes? It certainly gave me more entertainment than *13* episodes of any regular show.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:56 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I loved the shoeshine guy, the town's nomenclature ("The Bank" and "The Museum") and the dopey lab assistant who was so tall his head and shoulders were always out of the frame. Wore out VHS dubs until Police Squad! saw DVD reissues.
posted by porn in the woods at 1:11 PM on January 27, 2009


Not to be confused with Emergency!, which was a long-running series from the 1970s. Oddly, the show is being re-run some places now. (I first saw it when Mrs. FLT and I tuned in for a Family Guy episode, and realized this was the Rampart referred to in Wayne's World).
posted by filthy light thief at 1:11 PM on January 27, 2009


always loved this stuff.

only one question.

how on earth did they film those episodes in less than a week each?
posted by krautland at 1:15 PM on January 27, 2009


"I have an awesome idea for a post on Metafilter."

"What is it?"

"It's a community weblog where over 60,000 people gather to bitch about everything on the internet. But that's not important right now."
posted by bondcliff at 1:23 PM on January 27, 2009 [45 favorites]


It's a different kind of website altogether.
posted by hifiparasol at 1:44 PM on January 27, 2009


hifiparasol: It's a different kind of website altogether.

"It's a different kind of website"
posted by not_on_display at 1:46 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cigarette?
posted by bondcliff at 1:58 PM on January 27, 2009


Thursday.

Yes, DU! That line was a laugh 'til I cried line that nearly broke my rewind button. Awesome.
posted by Shfishp at 1:59 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I liked Police Squad!, but I can also see why it was canceled. It was pretty damn formulaic. If they had changed it up at all, then it might have been more appealing to me. Or maybe that was part of the charm?

When Mel Brooks reuses jokes ("Walk this way.") I find it hilarious. Having the improper scientist and the informative shoe polisher in every episode of Police Squad! got a little old.
posted by ODiV at 1:59 PM on January 27, 2009


Who are you and how did you get in here?

I'm a locksmith. And, I'm a locksmith.
posted by gfrobe at 2:01 PM on January 27, 2009 [8 favorites]


Arguably the funniest TV show ever created. That, and "Duckman."
posted by davidmsc at 2:03 PM on January 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's too bad David Zucker got, you know, weird.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 2:05 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cigarette?

Yes, it is.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:06 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Vincent Ludwig: Drebin!
Jane Spencer: Frank!
Frank Drebin: You're both right.

Thanks for the post, I have a feeling I haven't actually seen all 6 episodes of Police Squad, I'll check these out sometime.
posted by tomcooke at 2:10 PM on January 27, 2009


Police Squad! I love it. When I saw the first Naked Gun movie, I actually passed out because I was laughing too hard.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 2:14 PM on January 27, 2009


I have an idea. Let's say this is a good post...
posted by Greg Nog at 2:19 PM on January 27, 2009


I have the series on 2 VHS tapes on my bookshelf. NEVER fails to make me laugh.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 2:21 PM on January 27, 2009


This post's special guest star... Horace Rumpole.

[falls out of 10th story window]

Aiiieeee!!!!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 2:25 PM on January 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Don't forget about Sledge Hammer!, an imitation which followed a few years later and was pretty darn good iteslef.
posted by jbickers at 2:25 PM on January 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


There was a point where he tried to revive his non-comedy appeal, with the 1987 film Nuts, where he beats up, and then is killed by, a hooker played by Barbra Streisand.

I don't know which was weirder: Leslie Nielsen playing a prostitute-beating john. Or the fact that Barbra Streisand is playing a woman that is supposed to be attractive enough to be able to charge men for sex.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:31 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


One of the occasionally funniest TV Shows ever. In the words of my friend puddy. "Sure, it's mostly gags. But when the gags worked, there was nothing better."
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 2:33 PM on January 27, 2009


OK, a few more Police Squad! links I've dug up--very nineties: 1 2.5 3.3333333
posted by not_on_display at 2:35 PM on January 27, 2009


Det. Frank Drebin: We're sorry to bother you at a time like this, Mrs. Twice. We would have come earlier, but your husband wasn't dead then.
---
Mrs. Twice: And what about my daughter? What am I going to tell her?
Capt. Ed Hocken: Yeah, you're gonna have to tell her something. Tell her he went on a long trip.
Det. Frank Drebin: No wait a minute, how about a big monster came and took him to daddy heaven?
Det. Frank Drebin: [Mrs Twice starts sobbing louder] Nah...
Capt. Ed Hocken: How about this: he threw himself on a grenade and saved the battalion. Yeah, that's it.
Det. Frank Drebin: No, no, wait a minute, how about he was killed by a left wing insurgence from Paraguay?
Det. Frank Drebin: [Twice is crying uncontrollably now] No, Bolivia.
Capt. Ed Hocken: I got it! I got it, he, he was traded to the Cubs for Reggie Jackson.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:43 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know which was weirder: Leslie Nielsen playing a prostitute-beating john. Or the fact that Barbra Streisand is playing a woman that is supposed to be attractive enough to be able to charge men for sex.

Have you ever actually seen a prosititute?

/drift

My dad tends to bellow when he laughs, and I remember when I saw these for the first time, I could barely catch any of the jokes over his laughter. They're pretty special.
posted by orville sash at 2:47 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I must kill...the queen...
posted by kirkaracha at 2:54 PM on January 27, 2009


Oh man, I'm digging my VHS copies out tonight. (Gotta love pawn shops.)
posted by Dark Messiah at 3:09 PM on January 27, 2009


I think that "Airplane" and "Police Squad" shorted out some part of my brain that reacts to funny stuff. Nothing since then has made me, quite literally, fall on the floor with laughter.
posted by TDavis at 3:22 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Easy as it is to crack on Zucker now for horrors like An American Carol, even the widely reviled Scary Movies (3 and 4, anyhow) are not without their charms: I see your Leslie Nielsen, and raise you an Anna Faris.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:28 PM on January 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I... I love Police Squad. There, I've said it.
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:38 PM on January 27, 2009


My favorite bit of dialogue (paraphrased) from Naked Gun that I will remember for as long as I live:

Frank: What would he be doing in the red light district?
Ed: Sex, Frank?
Frank: Uh, not right now Ed, we've got work to do.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:41 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


It was one of those 24-hour wicker places.
posted by waraw at 3:57 PM on January 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Is this some kind of bust?
posted by ijoshua at 4:03 PM on January 27, 2009


So many great gags in that show, but what made it superb were the subtle visual gags. Words back to front on glass doors, some people walking through doors while others just walk through the hole in the set. I have to watch these now...
posted by ob at 4:17 PM on January 27, 2009


There's something on the side of your mouth, Al.
...
No, no. The other side.
*THUMP
posted by sswiller at 4:20 PM on January 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I am NEVER going to get any work done today!! Thankyou, not_on_display!!!
posted by ninazer0 at 4:44 PM on January 27, 2009


Is this some kind of bust?

Yes, it's very impressive.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:50 PM on January 27, 2009


I enjoyed the gunfights from 2 feet away. Rex Hamilton firing back as Lincoln. And the whole parody of the t.v. gimmick where people can just suddenly become great at anything, like where he becomes nightclub comic Tony DeWonderful and everyone’s dying laughing - “Where are you from - ‘Bald’emore?” ( A to Z police squad encyclopedia)
I popped in a tape of the opening theme way back when I was in a driving course, broke everyone up.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:11 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm a locksmith. And, I'm a locksmith.

That is an exact bullseye in my sense of humor. I laughed so hard that I couldn't breathe the first time I heard that.

I bought these DVDs, and heartily recommend them to anyone. The commentary track is pretty good, too, with lots of backstory about the directors' dealings with the suits at ABC.
posted by popechunk at 5:15 PM on January 27, 2009


It was a little hunch back at the office.
posted by gimonca at 5:29 PM on January 27, 2009


Smedleyman has it. I love love love "rex hamilton as Abraham Lincoln" and then Lincoln fires back. That made me laugh out loud.

Another scene I remember evenafteralltheseyears is "Why don't we talk in the Japanese Garden?" and it's a patio with Japanese people standing motionless in pots. That made me laugh out loud too.
posted by wittgenstein at 6:13 PM on January 27, 2009


About a year and a half ago TCM showed the 1957 movie Zero Hour!, which is the (straight dramatic) basis of Airplane!

What a strange experience it was to watch. The non-joke dialogue is taken word-for-word from it, along with plot points, montages, shots, etc. I now know what deja vu and Superman's bizarro world must be like, watching a movie I'd never seen before but was thoroughly familiar with.

Back on topic ... you wonder how long they could have kept up the level of humor on Police Squad!
posted by pmurray63 at 6:33 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


pmurray63: Zero Hour!, which is the (straight dramatic) basis of Airplane!

I just watched this: a remix of the trailer for Airplane!. It's eerily like what you just described.
posted by not_on_display at 6:48 PM on January 27, 2009


Watching that show on TV when it was originally aired is one of my favorite memories of time spent with Mom. We laughed so hard.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:03 PM on January 27, 2009


Try this: Airplane! vs. Zero Hour!
posted by pmurray63 at 7:07 PM on January 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


+ sorry for hitting post before it was ready - this is a bit cleaned up:

Police Squad was great - Naked Gun not so much I thought - cause they changed the universe of the show - in Police Squad no one reacts to Drebin's actions as anything unusual - whereas in Naked Gun he's treated by others as an idiot/buffoon = a much more standard way of doing things, (Pink Panther), but not as pure, man.
posted by jettloe at 7:39 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I remember Nielsen's suit in one episode was made with alternating blue and gray horizontal stripes so it looked like something was wrong with your television.
posted by atchafalaya at 7:45 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Tonight's special guest star: William Shatner!"


Squeee!
posted by device55 at 8:04 PM on January 27, 2009


Seargents Takeraway and Booker.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 9:24 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


sswiller:
There's something on the side of your mouth, Al.
...
No, no. The other side.
*THUMP


I wondered if anyone else would remember this. Holy MOLY I almost pissed myself laughing. I think it was an entire chicken that fell from the tall guy's face above the picture.
posted by sapere aude at 9:39 PM on January 27, 2009


We still have Robot Chicken.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:05 PM on January 27, 2009


ODiV: I liked Police Squad!, but I can also see why it was canceled. It was pretty damn formulaic. If they had changed it up at all, then it might have been more appealing to me. Or maybe that was part of the charm?

1.) Formulaic is GOOD. It's a pillar of comedy. People prefer terra familiaris to incognito -- but they hate to admit it because they think it makes them sound shallow.

2.) Your "guess" about why it was canceled is, almost the exact opposite of the truth. This was a very popular show; it provided watercooler chat and endless quotes. It was also popular with the "in" crowd; big-time celebrities were scrambling to get cameos (see: Belushi, John). How it did with advertisers, I can't say -- it wasn't really given enough time. Anyway, when the show was canceled, there was a bit of a backlash. People were pissed and baffled. Curiously -- the studio provided a reason (so there's no need to guess). I remember, because their explanation was kinda offensive and caused a bit of a backlash as well. They actually came out and flatly said that they wanted a more breezy show for that timeslot. They were concerned that there were too many gags (yes -- they said "too many gags") and that viewers ACTUALLY HAD TO PAY ATTENTION to enjoy the show. Understand? It was "too" clever for their imagined demographic.
posted by RavinDave at 11:14 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


So basically it was Arrested Development twenty years early.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:59 AM on January 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Exactly, Pope Guilty
posted by mannequito at 3:18 AM on January 28, 2009


The conflicting titles for each episode still get me every time. I think, though, my favorite gag involved the fake freeze-frame at the end, especially when they froze while someone was pouring coffee.
posted by Spatch at 6:03 AM on January 28, 2009


And don't forget Top Secret!.

"I know a little German. He's sitting over there."

[Midget in lederhosen waves.]

Abrahams, Zucker, and Zucker are foundations of my sense of humor.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:32 AM on January 28, 2009


As hard as I laughed the first time I saw The Naked Gun, my favourite memory of it is watching my mom - who has never been given to excessive displays of amusement - nearly choke to death during the scene where Drebin sets fire to the villain's apartment and has to crawl out on to the balcony, from statue to statue, breast to breast to...
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:12 AM on January 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh God! The orthodontist's office where everyone in the waiting room has progressively more and more elaborate headgear! I haven't seen it in over a decade and I still laugh thinking about it!

Also from the same episode: I *shlurp* am not *shluurp* an animal *shluuurp* I *shlurp* am a human *shlurp* being!
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:22 AM on January 28, 2009


No love for the classic Kentucky Fried Movie? Possibly the ultimate movie for entertaining ADD teenagers, or least it was for me and my friends at a formative period in my life.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 8:44 AM on January 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thanks Cookiebastard.

I now remember Drebin going thru the dentist's file cabinet, occasionally drooling into it due to the dental appliances in his mouth. Thought I would die laughing.

And yes, Top Secret was more of a heir to Police Squad due to the change in approach to Drebin's character.

Sledge Hammer deserves it's own post...
posted by djrock3k at 9:11 AM on January 28, 2009


No love for the classic Kentucky Fried Movie?

Kentucky Fried Movie doesn't need your love, because it has

*smash*

BIG JIM SLADE!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:20 AM on January 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


The mere fact that you call making love "Pop-Pop" tells me that you're not ready.

What?
posted by Jonathan Harford at 9:33 AM on January 28, 2009


We forge our tradition in the spirit of our ancestors. You have our gratitude.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:54 PM on January 28, 2009


Oh my Gosh, I'm listening to the theme right now, and it's still great!
posted by CollectiveMind at 7:01 PM on January 31, 2009


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