Plot: What’s it about?
The streets are overrun with the criminal element, to the point that ordinary citizens can’t even feel safe in their own homes. But a special task force has been created, with the police force’s elite detectives and officers, a group known as Police Squad. Captain Ed Hocken (Alan North) oversees the division, with his right hand man Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) serving as his ace detective. The two investigate the crimes no one wants to touch, even going deep undercover to expose the harsh criminal underbelly. When a mobster and his goons threaten local business owners, Frank poses as a locksmith and stands up for the common man. When a double murder has the authorities baffled, Frank is able to look beyond the evidence. And when an ex-con seems to be a bombing spree, Frank has the sense to ignore common sense and looks for other suspects. While he might not go through the normal routine to solve his cases, by hook or by crook or even by accident, Drebin is able to deliver and put the criminals behind bars. But these six cases will prove to be his toughest yet, so can he and Captain Hocken handle these high level crooks?
If you’ve seen The Naked Gun movies, then you should recognize both Frank Drebin and the Police Squad names. The Naked Gun series was based on the short lived Police Squad! series, which starred Leslie Nielsen as Detective Frank Drebin. The show has the same kind of content as the movies, rapid fire gags of all kinds, visual, verbal, and even nonsensical. In fact, some of the exact same gags would be recycled for the movies, so you should remember some of the jokes. A moment rarely passes when some kind of joke isn’t unfurled, so you’ll want to pay close attention. As is expected with rapid fire humor, some jokes work and others don’t, but Police Squad! has many more hits than misses. If you’re a fan of old school police shows, you’ll find a lot to laugh about here, but that isn’t a requirement to understand the humor. Leslie Nielsen is deadpan hilarious in these episodes, not as self referential as he was in The Naked Gun franchise. The series ran only six episodes, which is a shame, as I really love the show and wish it could have been more extensive. Paramount’s release gives us all six of the shows, plus a bounty of special features. If you’re a fan of The Naked Gun or just love outlandish humor, then Police Squad! is well recommended.
Video: How does it look?
The episodes are presented in full frame, as intended. The episodes look more than decent, but time has taken a toll on the elements. The prints have debris and grain, not massive amounts, but enough to notice. I don’t think we’ll see a restoration for the show in the near future however, so for existing elements, this is probably about as good as it gets. The episodes also look soft, but detail is passable and contrast is consistent, if a little lighter than we might want. I found colors to be on the washed out side, but as I said, in the end this is probably as good as these episodes will look on DVD.
Audio: How does it sound?
A new Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack has been included, but I’m not sure why, as this material doesn’t benefit much from the added presence. As it stands, the surrounds don’t see a lot of action, but at times you’ll hear some activity from the rear channels. The music is loud, as in louder than the other audio elements, so you might need to adjust the volume at times. The dialogue sounds good, aside from being much lower than the music, so none of the verbal humor is lost here. This disc also includes the original mono soundtrack, in case you fear surround sound is the work of Satan himself.
Supplements: What are the extras?
You can listen to audio comments on three of the episodes, two with David & Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Robert K. Weiss, the other with Robert Wuhl. Over the course of the tracks, a lot of information is repeated, but some good tidbits still come through. The production team spends time on the conflicts with network suits, as well as how the concept went from feature film to television series. You can also check out a gag reel, a look at the “freeze frame” concept, extensive production photos, two casting tests, and some official memos, including the one that announced the show’s cancellation.