TITLE: SLEDGE HAMMER! - SEASON ONE
DVD Release Date: July 27, 2004 (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
Number of discs: 4
Number of episodes: 22 (6, 6, 6, 4) plus the unaired pilot episode
Running Time: Approx. 534 minutes
Languages and subtitles: English-dolby digital stereo, no subtitles or closed captioning
Special Features: 4 episode audio commentaries by series creator Alan Spencer,
"Go Ahead, Make Me Laugh" - new 32-minute documentary on the series with new interviews
of cast and crew, Unaired Pilot episode, Electronic Press Kit, TV Spots, Original TV Bumper,
Alan Spencer's Audio Messate To Critics, Still & Memorabilia Photo Gallery, HBO & ABC
Pilot Script in PDF Format, 16-Page "Sledge Files" with Color Photos and Liner Notes
Review (out of 5 stars):
Video quality: 4.5/5
Audio quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 5/5
Menu Navigation: 5/5
Sledge Hammer was a slapstick comedy that aired on ABC for 2 seasons beginning in
September 1986. The show starred David Rasche as Detective Inspector Sledge Hammer who's
character was modeled after Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry, Anne-Marie Martin as Officer
Dori Doreau, and Harrison Page as Captain Trunk. Sledge Hammer introduced the concept
of combining irony and satire with politically sensitive material by spoofing
'80s cop television shows and movies. The series was originally developed for HBO, but
ABC then became interested in it and put it on their fall schedule. Despite lackluster ratings
due to it originally airing opposite NBC's Miami Vice and CBS's Dallas, the show was a favorite among critics and quickly
developed fans across the US and worldwide. It would air in no less than 9 different timeslots on
ABC while airing opposite NBC's The Cosby Show in it's second season. Even after it was canceled, it remained
popular and aired in syndication on A&E and in many other countries where it picked up new
cult fans. There is still a devoted fanbase called "Hammerheads" and there is an extensive
official website called Sledge Hammer Online.
There were 22 episodes produced during the first season (1986-1987). The pilot episode Under
the Gun was directed by Martha Coolidge (Valley Girl, Real Genius) and featured John Vernon as
the mayor. He had appeared in the original Dirty Harry movie as the mayor. David
Leisure, who appeared in episode 9, would later become "Joe Isuzu" in those car commercials
and star in the NBC sitcom "Empty Nest". The first
season finale ended with a dramatic cliffhanger with Hammer trying to disarm a nuclear
warhead and obliterating the entire city. The finale scored big in the ratings and
suprisingly ABC decided to pick it up for a 2nd season.
The Season One DVD cover features a nice photo of Harrison Page, David Rasche, and Anne-Marie Martin
with an American flag background. The Digipak box opens up like a book and the inside cover
has a color photo of Sledge Hammer tipping his sunglasses with a listing of the episode
titles on each disc. The back inside cover features The Gospel According to Sledge and a Sledge
Hammer Vocabulary Builder. Each of the four discs features a drawing or photo of Sledge and
the discs are in a clear plastic holder. The back of the dvd box gives a brief
summary of the show and lists the bonus features. There is a nice 16 page booklet that
comes in a small manilla folder labeled 'Confidential Report' From Internal Affairs
that looks like the kind of paper that a reporter would write on and flip over. It gives
a nice detailed history of the show's development and lists some interesting trivia as
well as providing some nice photos.
All the menus are well layed out and easy to navigate. There are sections
for 'Episodes,' 'Commentaries,'(for the 3 discs that have them) and a 'Play All' episodes
feature. Mark Rathke's version of original composer Danny Elfman's (Batman, Spider-Man, Big Fish) Sledge Hammer theme can be
heard on the main menu sections as various clips from the episodes are shown on the right hand side of the screen in a
small bullet shaped hole. As you make a menu selection, you hear some gunfire. A nice,
cool effect. Disc 1 features 6 episodes with 2 episodes having audio commentaries by the series
creator Alan Spencer: Under The Gun (Pilot) and Witless. The commentaries are quite interesting
and it's amazing all the details he can recall about the episodes. You can tell how fond
he is of the show and cast. He does tend to talk quite fast and doesn't let up very much,
so you are definitely getting your monies worth with these! Each disc has a different
colored menu background theme - disc 1 is yellow, disc 2 is green, disc 3 is a greenish blue, and disc
4 is a reddish pink. The sub-menus feature color photos of Sledge Hammer.
When you initially play the first disc, Alan Spencer gives a brief introduction
and says the episodes have never looked or sounded better. Anchor Bay Entertainment
removed the laugh track that was originally on the episodes as they aired on ABC.
He says that laugh tracks are offensive and that the audience doesn't need to be told when to laugh
at something. I tend to agree with him and the episodes work well without it. I've never
found any 'live action' sitcoms that were done on film and have laugh tracks to be
very effective. Laugh tracks should be left to sitcoms that are taped in front of a live
studio audience. ABC originally put the laugh track on as it scored higher with the test
audiences even though the original contract stated there was to be none and Mr. Spencer
was totally against it.
The episodes have all been newly remastered and look great. Sledge Hammer was filmed and it
has a cinematic look, so the colors still look sharp and vibrant. Since there are only 6
episodes on each disc (and only 4 on the last disc) there is no compression loss. Sometimes
companies will cram 8-10 episodes on each disc and there is a noticeable difference, but there
is no problem here. I noticed no audio problems, it's at a good level and clear. The
series had been previously released on VHS several times, and these DVDs must be a
dramatic improvement over what had been available in the past.
One major downside to the set is that none of the episodes were closed-captioned.
You can read Alan Spencer's comments about it here.
He hopes that it will be re-issued at some point with closed-captioning.
Numerous features can be found on these discs besides the 4 audio commentaries for
Under the Gun (Pilot), Witless, All Shook Up, and The Spa Who Loved Me. Bonus features on
the 4th disc include:
Slege Hammer: Go Ahead, Make Me Laugh! -- an all new 32-minute documentary
featuring interviews with Creator/Producer Alan Spencer, and Actors David Rasche, Anne-Marie
Martin (who is still absolutely gorgeous) and Harrison Page. They talk about how the show was developed and the cast was
chosen and their overall memories of the series.
Pilot Episode/Unaired Version: (30 mins) this version was 10 minutes longer than the
one that was broadcast by ABC. It included a different theme song and ending.
Electronic Press Kit (EPK): (6 minutes) this was produced before the series aired in 1986,
it gives a general overview of the show with interviews of Alan Spencer who looks
to be in his early 20's and David Rasche
TV Spots: 5 different commercials - #1-4 are 30 seconds in length, #5 is 20 seconds in length
Original TV Bumper: (6 seconds) shown during commercial breaks
Alan Spencer's Message To Critics: (2 minutes) Spencer recorded a 2 minute audiotape
begging for viewership as it was up against stiff competition in Miami Vice and
Dallas. The show was previewed on ABC on September 23rd at 8:30PM
before it moved to it's regular Friday night slot on September 26th at 9:00PM.
Still & Memorabilia Gallery: Over 80 different publicity stills, memorabilia items,
TV Guide ads, and story boards
ABC and HBO Pilot Scripts - these scripts are available in PDF format if you play
the disc in your CD-Rom
Thank You: A text message by Alan Spencer thanking various people and all
the "Hammerheads" around the world. The set is dedicated to the memory of
Oliver Heailey, Marty Feldman and Andy Kaufman, three people he names as his "favorite teachers."
This is a well produced set that I'm sure all Hammerheads will enjoy. Personally,
I had never seen a complete episode of the series before and only bits and pieces
over the years. It has a definite 80's feel to it with the cars, the hair, the fashion,
the music by Arthur B. Rubinstein (WarGames, Blue Thunder) and 80's references (Pee-wee
Herman, Dynasty). The show has some similarities to Get Smart (which Alan Spencer mentions
was his favorite show growing up), Police Squad, and even a little bit to the current
Arrested Development. It had a talented attractive cast, witty writing, slapstick comedy,
and much more. It really seemed like an underrated gem that was overlooked due to
it's very strong competition on the other networks, and it's great the series is
now receiving it's proper due on DVD so it can be experienced by old and new fans alike.
Anchor Bay is looking to release the 2nd season in the future to complete the series.
This release was really driven by the demand of the fans
of the show and Alan Spencer's efforts to make it a fantastic set that every
Hammerhead will enjoy.
-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 07/13/04
To order the DVD click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Tower Records is
offering a free "Sledge For President" bumper sticker with a purchase of the DVD set. You can
also enter to win an autographed copy of the DVD set by David Rasche, Anne-Marie Martin,
Harrison Page, and Creator Alan Spencer.
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