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Police Squad! - The Complete Series


TITLE: POLICE SQUAD! - THE COMPLETE SERIES


Info:

DVD Release Date: November 7, 2006 (Paramount Home Video)
Color / 1982
MSRP: $19.99
Number of Discs: 1
Number of Episodes: 6
Running time: Approx. 150 Minutes
Audio Tracks: English - Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround or English Mono
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; Closed Captioned
Special Features: 3 Audio Commentaries; Gag Reel; Brand-new interview with Leslie Nielsen; "Behind The Freeze Frames" Featurette; Casting Test - Ed Williams; Casting Test - Alan North; Producers' Photo Gallery; List of Celebrity Death Shots; Production Memo Highlights


Introduction:

Join Detective Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) and Capt. Ed Hocken (Alan North) as they solve the toughest cases - full of all the sight-gags, puns, and non sequiturs that made the series famous!

Created by David Zucker, Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams, who gave us other classics such as Airplane! and The Naked Gun series.


Show History / Episode Included / Guest Stars:

Police Squad! premiered on ABC on March 4, 1982. Although critically acclaimed and nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series, Police Squad! was too rapid fire for audiences and was cancelled almost immediately following its premiere. Only 6 episodes were produced. It was cancelled and put on hiatus after 4 episodes aired, with the remaining episodes and reruns aired in the summer of 1982. CBS reran the series in the summer of 1991, following the success of The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad and The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear. Police Squad! starred Leslie Nielsen as Detective Frank Drebin, Alan North as Captain Ed Hocken, Peter Lupus as Nordberg, Ed Williams as Ted Olson, William Duell as Johnny the Snitch, and Rex Hamilton as Abraham Lincoln.

The week's special guest star each week would be killed off in the opening credits: Lorne Green, Georg Stanford Brown, Robert Goulet, William Shatner, Florence Henderson and William Conrad. The episode title would appear at the start of the episode, and the announcer would announce a different title.

Here are the episode summaries and guest stars: (courtesy of TV.com)

1. A Substantial Gift (The Broken Promise) (03/04/82)
Sally, a bank teller deeply in debt, robs her own bank and plants evidence that implicates a fairly commonplace man who was present during the crime. Police Squad, a special unit of the police force, is called to investigate a double shooting that happened during the robbery. However, the stories just don't add up. The evidence builds and points in Sally's direction, but it's up to Frank to find the clues that will put her away.
Guest Stars: Lorne Greene (Himself), Barbara Tarbuck (Mrs. Twice), Terry Wills (Jim), Terrence Beasor (Dr. Zubatsky), Russell Shannon (Ralph Twice), Jimmy Briscoe (Cop), Kathryn Leigh Scott (Sally)

2. Ring of Fear (A Dangerous Assignment) (03/11/82)
Frank investigates a veteran boxer who lately has been throwing his fights. He takes the boxer under his wing in order to expose the boxer's corrupt manager. Unfortunately, the manger has kidnapped the boxer's girlfriend and put the boxer's title fight in jeopardy. Frank now tries to save the boxer's girlfriend in the hopes that the boxer won't have to throw the match so he can have a shot at rejuvenating his career in the ring.
Guest Stars: Georg Stanford Brown (Himself), Rudy Solari (Martin), Patrick St. Esprit (Buddy), Tessa Richarde (Mary), Floyd Levine (Cooper), Irwin Keyes (Luca), Grand Bush (The Champ)

3. The Butler Did It (A Bird in the Hand) (03/18/82)
The daughter of a wealthy business man is kidnapped on her 18th birthday and Police Squad swings into action. The main suspect of their investigation is the girl's boyfriend. When Frank and Ed listen to a recording of the kidnapper's demands, they hear the distinct sound of a tuba in the background, though it could also be a ship's horn. They search for a tuba store. When they do track down and find the kidnapper, the criminal fights back.
Guest Stars: Robert Goulet (Himself), Peter Lupus (Nordberg), Tommy Lasorda (Himself), Nicolas Coster (Warner), Lilibet Stern (Terri), Byron Webster (Thames), Ken Michelman (Kingsley), Peter Elbing (Mime), K Callan (Charlotte)

4. Revenge and Remorse (The Guilty Alibi) (03/25/82)
Frank investigates a district judge's courtroom after it is booby-trapped with a powerful explosive. The main suspect is a recently paroled ex-convict with a history of similar bombings. Upon questioning the bomber's ex-wife, Frank and Ed find she's more interested in getting charity than the fact that her ex-husband may be up to his old tricks. Frank and Ed discover the bomber has a showgirl girlfriend on the side. She has the perfect alibi for her boyfriend, but Frank and Ed wonder if she's really just covering for him.
Guest Stars: William Shatner (Himself), Peter Lupus (Nordberg), Dr. Joyce Brothers (Herself), Spence Milligan (Eddie), Bonnie Campbell-Britton (Lana), K.T. O'Sullivan (Mimi)

5. Rendezvous at Big Gulch (Terror in the Neighborhood) (07/01/82)
The mob sets up an "insurance" scam that threatens several businesses and residents. Frank and Nordberg go to investigate. After a dance instructor is beaten up, they set up their own shop - a key-making and locksmith store - and go undercover. When the mob stops by to offer them "insurance," Frank dismisses their threats and the mob strikes their store. Frank ends up having the key to stopping the crime wave, largely because of the key-making and locksmith shop he and Nordberg set up.
Guest Stars: Florence Henderson (Herself), Peter Lupus (Nordberg), Al Ruscio (Dutch), Robert Costanzo (Leo), John Ashton (Rocky), Connie Needham (Jill), Rebecca Holden (Stella)

6. Testimony of Evil (Dead Men Don't Laugh) (07/08/82)
A struggling comedian owes money to the owner of a nightclub. When his body is discovered at the bottom of a cliff in a car crash, all the clues point to suicide. It is later discovered that the comedian was also a police informant on a drug ring he infiltrated at his nightclub. Frank steps in and takes the place of the deceased at the nightclub in order to gather more clues.
Guest Stars: William Conrad (Himself), Peter Lupus (Nordberg), Dick Clark (Himself), Dick Miller (Vic), Claudette Nevins (Veronica Rivers), Wayne Winton (Don), Jerry Lane (Willy)


Packaging:

This single disc set contains all 6 episodes from the only season (1982). It comes in an Amaray movie-style standard keepcase. The cover art features a photo of Leslie Nielsen looking out of a manhole. There is a "Police Line Donut Cross" yellow tape near the bottom of the cover. The Police Squad! in color logo is at the top. On the back of the box, there is a photo of Leslie Nielsen and Alan North holding a giant donut. There are also 2 smaller photos of them near the bottom. There is a summary of the set, listing of the audio commentaries, special features, and DVD specs. Unfortunately, there are no episode summaries, original airdates, or guest stars listed anywhere on the set. Leslie Nielsen is on the spine of the case. There are two snaps to open the case. The disc has a silver background with the Police Squad! logo. I would have liked to see a color photo or the title card logo on the disc. There is just blank black space inside the case. They should have printed the episode titles and summaries inside the case, or at least included a paper sheet with that information.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are nicely designed and easy to navigate. They begin with a portion of the opening intro with the police car siren. That leads to the main menu. It has a photo of Alan North on the left and Leslie Nielsen on the right. There is a flashing red and blue Police Squad! logo with a badge at the top of the screen. In the center of the screen, there is a montage of video clips played. Ira Newborn's catchy opening theme can be heard in the background. The video clips and theme loop after about 53 seconds. The six episode titles are listed vertically in white text. At the bottom of the screen, there are options for Play All Episodes, Special Features, and Set-Up. There is a tiny yellow badge next to the episode you highlight that turns a yellow/green color. For the 3 episodes which have audio commentaries, there are separate menus. They feature 3 still images from the episodes: 1 larger still on the left and 2 smaller stills on the right. These sub-menus also feature a 40 second Ira Newborn cue playing in the background that doesn't loop. The Set-Up menu, which features a photo of Ed Williams, lets you choose English 5.1 Surround or English Mono audio. The Special Features menu has a photo of Leslie Nielsen and William Duell. There are chapter stops within the episodes but no separate scene selection menus.


Video and Audio Quality:

Police Squad! is in color! The show has previously been released on 2 VHS tapes in 1989 by Paramount and shown many times on Comedy Central, so I have seen the episodes before. The video and audio quality on the DVD is pretty good and better than what I've seen before, but I guess I was expecting them to be a bit better remastered and cleaned up for this release. Maybe this was the best they could get them because of the source material and because the episodes were made almost 25 years ago. Police Squad! was shot on film, so there is some dust and debris. I noticed some scenes where the color fades in and out a bit and some yellow spots. All the episodes appear to be unedited, running over 25 minutes in length. There is nothing on the packaging to indicate that any of the music has been replaced. For the closing logo enthusiasts, there is the light blue and white Paramount mountain logo from that era.

The audio is available in English 5.1 Surround or English Mono. The volume is at a good level, and the dialogue is easy to understand. It seems like the opening theme music is a bit louder than the regular dialogue. Closed captioning is available on all of the episodes and on some of the special features.

Here are the episodes and their running times:

1. A Substantial Gift (The Broken Promise) (25:06)
2. Ring of Fear (A Dangerous Assignment) (25:08)
3. The Butler Did It (A Bird in the Hand) (25:07)
4. Revenge and Remorse (The Guilty Alibi) (25:07)
5. Rendezvous at Big Gulch (Terror in the Neighborhood) (25:08)
6. Testimony of Evil (Dead Men Don't Laugh) (25:08)


Special Features:

There is a nice amount and variety of special features included. There are 3 audio commentaries, interviews, featurettes, and other extras. Here is the breakdown:

Commentary by David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Robert (Bob) K. Weiss on "A Substantial Gift (The Broken Promise)" - This foursome provides commentary on two episodes. I'm not sure why they just didn't record commentaries for all 6 episodes. The volume of the speakers varies and the audio comes out of a different portion of the speakers. The commentaries are pretty lively and can serve as the laugh track that the show never used. They talk about what ABC didn't want to have in the opening credits (but it stayed anyway), how the idea was sold, the opening credits sequence inspiration, the laugh track vs. no track debate, how they originally planned on doing a movie, how they got the name Frank Drebin, why it was cancelled, who their comedic influences were, and the cheap freeze frames.

Commentary by David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Robert (Bob) K. Weiss on "The Butler Did It (A Bird in the Hand" - Some material is repeated from the first commentary. They mention this was the 5th episode. I guess they meant the 5th that they produced, as it was the 3rd that aired on ABC. They discuss how they pitched the show to Paramount, Peter Lupus, John Belushi's opening credits death scene which was filmed but never broadcast due to his death, their mixed emotions on being cancelled, The Naked Gun movies, director Joe Dante, Leslie Nielsen, and the cop shows that were the inspiration for Police Squad!.

Commentary by Robert Wuhl on "Testimony of Evil (Dead Men Don't Laugh)" - He was a writer for the show and later the star of HBO's "Arliss." He admits that he can't remember much about the show, but his commentary is still pretty interesting. He talks a bit about director Joe Dante, how he got involved with the show, how he auditioned for Airplane, the show's debut ratings, Leslie Nielsen, and the lost John Belushi footage.

Gag Reel (4:56) - Some bloopers (some unbleeped) from the show. They vary in quality but all are watchable and fun to see.

Leslie Nielsen Interview (8:40) - A brand new interview for Leslie Nielsen. This man doesn't seem to age. He doesn't look much different than he did 25 years ago. He sits on an airplane chair and the interview is in widescreen. He talks about how he was approached to do the series, why the series didn't work, and the 3 Naked Gun movies.

"Behind The Freeze Frames" Featurette (4:30) - This was unaired footage that they filmed as wraparounds that they were going to use as part of a movie. There is commentary by David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Robert (Bob) K. Weiss. It is a scene with Leslie Nielsen, Alan North and the extras in freeze frame mode while firefighters rescue mannequins and attempt to put out fires.

Casting Test - Ed Williams (2:50) - He played the police scientist, Ted Olson. This looks to be from a VHS source. He would reprise the role in The Naked Gun movies.

Casting Test - Alan North (6:02) - This was taped on 11/05/81. It appears they had him read some lines that eventually ended up going to Frank Drebin in the actual episodes.

Producers' Photo Gallery (:58) - This is a montage of scenery, sets & props photos. The photos scroll across the screen, with the opening theme playing in the background. The photos are quite small and hard to see in any detail. I think it would have better if they made this navigable with arrows and added cast photos and other behind-the-scenes type photos from the episodes.

List of Celebriy Death Shots - A text list on 2 screens that lists 17 gags that the writing staff came up to use in the opening credits sequences. Some were shot like the John Belushi one. All were slightly crazy.

Production Memo Highlights - Four memos are reproduced from Paramount and the producers.
1. Paramount re: concessions made to broadcast standards - Things they had to change in the first 3 episodes. One of my favorites: "Please delete directions for Drebin to step in the "dog poo."" They also couldn't use the word "lubricant."
2. Dress Code - A funny memo from Bob Weiss to the cast and crew about their attire.
3. Memo from ZZA to not have a laugh track - The producers tell ABC they don't want to use a laugh track.
4. Cancellation letter - ABC tells them that 03/25/82 was their last scheduled telecast, and they were going on hiatus until further notice. Short and to the point. A little cold by ABC, but I guess that is part of the business.

Overall, not a bad batch of special features. I would have enjoyed commentaries on all 6 episodes. The John Belushi footage would have been great to see, but apparently it was lost at some point and has never been broadcast. I can't think of much else I would have liked to see except for maybe some original ABC promos.


Final Comments:

If you are a fan of Airplane and The Naked Gun movies, you'll definitely want to pick up this set. Even if you've already purchased these episodes before on VHS, it would be worth it just for the commentaries and special features. This set is priced very affordably at under $15. I would have liked to see slightly better quality video and episode summaries included, but overall this is a nicely produced set. This was one of the short-lived shows that is ideal for DVD. The jokes and humor in Police Squad! aren't as dated as much as I thought they would be. They didn't really use a lot of period jokes (except for the Tommy Lasorda and Dodgers jokes). The only thing that dates it are the clothes, hairstyles, VHS tapes, dial phones and 8-track players. I can't really decide if I like the series or movies more, but they are all a lot of fun to watch. This is a show was just ahead of its time, but there were probably not enough jokes and gags for it to last more than a few seasons.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 4.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 11/06/06

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000H7JCFK/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

Questions or comments about this set? Post on our message board:

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=178332


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