Poster: Mr. Television
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Police Squad aired from March until September 1982 on ABC.
The creators of the hit movie Airplane brought their bent humor to television in this short-lived series, which, like the movie starred Leslie Nielsen.The setting this time, was a "large American city," where straight-faced Detective Frank Dreben ( Nielsen) and his loyal captain Hocken ( Alan North) investigated puzzling cases filled with sight-gags and non sequiturs. In the opening episode they arrived at the scene of a murder to find a chalk outline of the body with Egyptian hieroglyphics alongside, the police photographer taking a picture of a grinning policeman posing with the corpse, and a witness who had a hard time talking through her braces. Parked nearby was a police car, with big letters on the hood reading-of course-POLICE CAR.
Sometimes police scientist Ted Olson ( Ed Williams) might offer dubious help, as when he identified the sounds in the background of a ransome tape as "a foghorn and a bell buoy"-they must be at the harbor! But en route to storm the waterfront with a small army of cops , Dreben stopped for gas and noticed an uncanny similarity between the " bell buoy" and the bell on the gas pump. And that foghorn , was it rally a tuba? So they went off to find a tuba next to a gas station, to storm that instead.
Then their was the clue found in a note tied to a window, thrown into a pile of rocks. And so on. Johnny ( William Duell) was the shoeshine boy and street snitch, who could give them incredible inside information -for a price.
Where did the creators of this odd program-two brothers named Zucker-get their offbeat approach to comedy? " A lot of our humor was developed as a self-defense for not being good in school," said one of them. " The only difference between then and now is that now we are getting paid for what used to get us kicked out of class."
Although Police Squad was not a success on television-there were those that claimed that there were so many sight gags you had to pay more attention to the show than people normally paid to TV-it fared much better in the movies. A feature film version titled , The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad with Leslie Nielsen reprising his role as Det. Drebin was a big hit in 1988. Also featured in the film was Priscilla Presley as Jane Spencer , George Kennedy as Capt. Ed Hockin ( replacing Alan North), and O.J. Simpson as Officer Nordberg. A sequel called Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear was released in 1991 and was even more successful than the first one. This led CBS to rerun the original TV series during the summer of 1991 but unfortunately the ratings were still low. The final movie Naked Gun: 33 1/3 was released in 1994. By this time Frank and Jane had gotten married. Although it did well at the box office it got mixed reviews overall. The film was also over shadowed by O.J. Simpson who had been accused of murdering his ex-wife and her friend while this movie was still in theaters. Although he was later aquited, this was his final acting role. Simpson won the Razzle Award for worst supporting actor for his performance.
A Review from The New York Times
TV: 'POLICE SQUAD!' BEGINS
By JANET MASLIN
Published: March 4, 1982
WAS ''Airplane!'' a one-shot for Zucker, Zucker and Abrahams? Absolutely not. ''Police Squad!'' premieres this evening, written and directed by this threesome (Jerry and David Zucker and Jim Abrahams), and it is every bit as wickedly funny as their movie.
The brand of humor is very much the same. There are sight gags, terrible puns, sneaky errors, jokes around every corner. These are writer-directors who can get away with an exchange like ''Cigarette?'' ''Yes, I know.''
They are also visual pranksters who will slip a shot of the Coliseum behind their patrol car when the detectives are supposed to be cruising through Little Italy. Some of the show's comic bits have been vaguely recycled from ''Airplane!'' but they have not lost their humor. And their creators certainly have not run out of steam. ''Police Squad!'' is scheduled as a limited-run series in the ''Mork and Mindy'' time slot, from 8 to 8:30 tonight on ABC-TV.
''Police Squad!'' is a spoof of television cop shows, full of jokes at the expense of the genre. After a credit sequence loaded with fiery shootout scenes, an announcer says that tonight's episode will be entitled ''The Broken Promise,'' while a title reading ''A Substantial Gift'' appears on the screen. At the end of the story, instead of the obligatory freeze-frame, the two stars (Leslie Nielsen and Alan North) simply hold their expressions fixed for an awkward 30 seconds.
The show's witticisms are about anything and everything, with Mr. Nielsen as delightful a straight man here as he was in ''Airplane!'' He brings a particularly deadpan delivery to the script's ''Who's on First'' routines, which are repeated often -every character in the detective plot seems to have a pun for a name.
Mr. Nielsen is also capable of calmly telling a murder victim's widow: ''Sorry to bother you at such a time. We would have come earlier, but your husband wasn't dead then.''
A lot of the freshness of ''Police Squad!'' is attributable to the utter unpredictability of its writer-directors' comic sensibility. Broad, dopey gags are side by side with inordinately clever ones, and the pacing is so swift that if you watch less than carefully you will probably miss something worthwhile.
The Zuckers and Mr. Abraham have not sacrificed anything to adapt their brand of humor for television, either. That may be their mightiest accomplishment of all.
Here is Alan North's Obituary from The New York Times
Alan North, 79, Character Actor On Stage, Screen and Television
Published: February 6, 2000
Alan North, a character actor whose career spanned more than 50 years, died on Jan. 19 at a hospital near his home in Port Jefferson, N.Y. He was 79 and also had a home in Manhattan.
The cause was kidney and lung cancer, his wife, June, said.
Across five decades, Mr. North portrayed a wealth of characters on the stage and screen, appearing in some 30 films, including ''Plaza Suite,'' ''Serpico,'' ''. . . And Justice for All,'' ''Thief of Hearts,'' ''Billy Galvin,'' ''Lean on Me'' and ''I'm Not Rappaport.'' A frequent player on such early television series as ''The Jackie Gleason Show,'' ''Studio One'' and the Ellery Queen mystery series, he landed one of his most prominent and popular roles in 1982 as the co-star, with Leslie Nielsen, of the short-lived ABC spoof ''Police Squad!''
On the stage, Mr. North shuttled between musical comedies and straight plays, making his Broadway debut in the 1955 musical ''Plain and Fancy.'' He went on to perform in ''Conversations With My Father,'' ''Dylan,'' the City Center revival of ''South Pacific,'' ''Plaza Suite'' and ''Marilyn'' before his final stage performance last spring in the Signature Theater production of John Guare's ''Lake Hollywood.''
Mr. North, who was born in the Bronx, served in the United States Navy during World War II before venturing into the theater, initially as a stage manager. Early on he was the host of a pre- and post-game television show for the Baltimore Orioles and broadcast his own sports program on WRC-TV in Washington.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Alexandra Jackson of Rocky Point, N.Y., and Victoria North of Port Jefferson, and three grandchildren.
Here is Leslie Nielsen's Obituary from the Hollywood Reporter
Leslie Nielsen Dies at Age 84
6:17 PM PST 11/28/2010 by Kimberly Nordyke
The actor best known for starring in such comedies as "Airplane!" and the "Naked Gun" film franchise died Sunday of complications from pneumonia.
Leslie Nielsen, the actor best known for starring in such comedies as Airplane! and the Naked Gun film franchise, died Sunday of complications from pneumonia at a hospital near his home in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. He was 84.
“We are sadden by the passing of beloved actor Leslie Nielsen, probably best remembered as Lt. Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun series of pictures, but who enjoyed a more than 60-year career in motion pictures and television," said a statement from Nielsen's family released through his rep.
Nielsen died surrounded by family including his wife, Barbaree, and friends.
Nielsen was born Feb. 11, 1926, in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. He came to Hollywood in the mid-1950s after performing in 150 live TV dramas in New York. His acting career spanned several decades, starting with episodes of series including The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse and Tales of Tomorrow and encompassing several genres.
Moving into film, Nielsen first performed as the king of France in the Paramount operetta The Vagabond King with Kathryn Grayson. The film -- he called it The Vagabond Turkey -- flopped, but MGM signed him to a seven-year contract and he starred in 1956's Forbidden Planet for that studio.
But he became known in later years for his deadpan delivery in comedies featuring absurd situations, including 1980s's Airplane!, a parody of Zero Hour!, Airport and other movies about flying.
Critics argued he was being cast against type, but Nielsen disagreed.
"I've always been cast against type before," he said, adding comedy was what he'd really always wanted to do.
Among Nielsen's more memorable quotes from Airplane!, in which he played a doctor aboard a flight in which the pilots and some passengers become violently ill:
-- When Nielsen tells the crew they must get to a hospital right away, a flight attendant asks "A hospital? What is it?" inquiring about the illness. Nielsen replies: "It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now."
-- When he asks a passenger if he can fly the plane, the man replies, "Surely you can't be serious." Nielsen responds: "I am serious, and don't call me Shirley."
"Leslie was key to Airplane! and perfect in the role. I look at his performance and it was very flawless," Jerry Zucker -- who directed the movie with Jim Abrahams and David Zucker -- told the Associated Press on Monday, adding that Nielsen delivered the "Shirley" line perfectly.
"We cracked up during shooting, then cracked up again during dailies. He really got what we were doing, and he loved it," he said.
After Airplane! became a hit, the three directors wanted to take the film's slapstick style of comedy to TV. They asked Nielsen to play the lead role in their new series Police Squad!
In the show, Nielsen played Frank Drebin, a stereotypical police officer modeled after characters in earlier police TV series. The show lasted only six episodes but earned Nielsen an Emmy nom for lead actor in a comedy series.
"It didn't belong on TV," Nielsen later said. "It had the kind of humor you had to pay attention to."
Six years later, Nielsen reprised his role for a feature-length version of the show, Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad, as well as two sequels.
Between films, he often turned serious, touring with his one-man show on the life of the great defense lawyer, Clarence Darrow.
Other credits include the 1960s TV series Peyton Place, Dr. Kildare and The Bold Ones: The Protectors and the 1972 disaster movie The Poseidon Adventure. In more recent years, he starred as the title character in 1997's Mr. Magoo and appeared in the parodies Scary Movie 3 (2003), Scary Movie 4 (2006) and Superhero Movie (2008).
Nielsen had two daughters, Thea and Maura, from a previous marriage. In lieu of flowers, his family is asking that donations be made in his name "to the charity of your choice."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
To watch clips of Police Squad go to https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=police+squad+tv+show
For The Files of Police Squad go to https://web.archive.org/web/20050224125122/http://www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/Studio/1354/
For a Website dedicated to The Naked Gun go to https://web.archive.org/web/20060928135033/http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Trailer/3980/index.html
For Tim's TV Showcase go to https://timstelevisionshowcase.neocities.org/policesquad.html
For some Police Story-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/shows/police-squad
For a Review of Police Squad go to https://www.avclub.com/c/tv-review/police-squad
To watch the opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jm_t3g4RhpY
� Date: Fri August 25, 2006 � Filesize: 21.5kb � Dimensions: 289 x 360 �
Keywords: Police Squad: Leslie Nielsen as Lt. Frank Drebin (Links Updated 7/21/18)