Police Squad!

Police Squad!

Infobox Television
show_name = Police Squad!

caption = Title Screen
format = Crime Comedy
camera =
picture_format =
runtime = 30 minutes
creator = Jim Abrahams
David Zucker
Jerry Zucker
developer = Paramount Television
executive_producer = Jim Abrahamscite web | title=Police Squad! at Tv.com| work=Crew| url=http://www.tv.com/police-squad!/show/5627/cast.html?
| accessmonthday=January 3| accessyear=2008
David Zucker
starring = Leslie Nielsen
Alan North
Peter Lupus
Ed Williams
William Duell
Rex Hamilton
narrated =
opentheme =
endtheme =
country = USA
network = ABCcite web | title=The TVIV| work=Police Squad!| url=http://tviv.org/Police_Squad%21| accessmonthday=January 3| accessyear=2008] .
first_aired = March 4, 1982
last_aired = July 8, 1982
num_episodes = 6
list_episodes = List of Police Squad! episodes
followed_by = "The Naked Gun" film series
website =
imdb_id = 0083466
tv_com_id = 5627

"Police Squad!" is a television comedy series first broadcast in 1982. It was a spoof of police dramas, packed with visual gags and non sequiturs. While a parody of many television shows and movies, it bore a particular resemblance to the Lee Marvin cop show, "M Squad".Fact|date=March 2008

"Police Squad!" was created by the comedy filmmaking trio Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker, who had previously worked together on "The Kentucky Fried Movie" and "Airplane!". Despite critical acclaim, the show was cancelled by ABC after just six episodes.cite web | title=Barnes and Noble| work=Police Squad! DVD Release| url=http://video.barnesandnoble.com/search/product.asp?ean=97360475128&z=y| accessmonthday=January 19| accessyear=2008] This was enough to gain a strong cult following through repeat broadcasts,cite web | title=Police Squad! at TV Guide| work=Premise| url=http://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/police-squad/203822| accessmonthday=January 3| accessyear=2008] which led to the 1988 film version "" and two further sequels. Many gags from the show were recycled for the films.

Leslie Nielsen played a role that was written especially for him,cite web | title=Police Squad! at Tv.com| work=News| url=http://www.tv.com/police-squad!/show/5627/news.html?om_act=convert&om_clk=tabssh&tag=tabs;news| accessmonthday=January 3| accessyear=2008] as Detective Frank Drebin in the series and all three films. Alan North played the role of Captain Ed Hocken on the show; in the films, the role was played by George Kennedy. Peter Lupus also co-starred on the show as Officer Norberg (in the films, O.J. Simpson appeared as the similarly named Officer Nordberg). Ed Williams, who played scientist Ted Olson on the show, would reprise his role in the films, making him and Nielsen the only two actors from the series to appear in the movies. Robert Goulet, who appeared as one of the "special guest stars" who were invariably killed off at the beginning of their episodes, would appear as villain Quentin Hapsburg in the second "Naked Gun" film. Dr. Joyce Brothers played herself in "" She also played herself in Episode 4 of the television series.cite web | title=Dr. Joyce Brothers at Tv.com| work=appearances |url=http://www.tv.com/dr.-joyce-brothers/person/902/appearances.html| accessmonthday=January 3| accessyear=2008]

The show was presented in the style of a Quinn Martin show of the early 1970s,cite web | title=Police Squad! Help Wanted at the All Movie Guide| work=Plot Synopsis |url=http://wm04.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=1:38599| accessmonthday=January 3| accessyear=2008] with a portentous narrative over the opening titles which made a big feature of the show being "...in color", followed by numerous gags. Each episode would similarly play credits over a 1970s style freeze frame of the final scene, except that the frame was not frozen – the actors simply stood motionless in position while other activities (pouring coffee, convicts escaping, chimpanzees running amok) continued around them.

One noticeable difference between the series and the films is in the portrayal of Frank Drebin. In the series he is shown to be considerably more competent and strait-laced, and less Maxwell Smart-like than he is depicted in the films. The TV portrayal of Drebin was never intended to be overtly comic, merely a sendup of the ultra-serious "Dragnet"-like portrayal of TV cops. In the series, Drebin was intended to be the archetype of the straight man, in contrast to the rampant hilarity going on around him. It was not until the films that Drebin was changed to a more outwardly comic character.Fact|date=March 2008


ABC announced the cancellation of "Police Squad!" after four of its six episodes had aired in March 1982. The final two episodes were aired that summer. According to then-ABC entertainment president Tony Thomopoulos (on "Entertainment Tonight"), "Police Squad!" was cancelled because the viewer had to watch it in order to appreciate it." What Thomopoulos meant was that the viewer had to actually pay attention to the show in order to get much of the humor, while most other TV shows did not demand as much effort from the viewer. In its annual "Cheers and Jeers" issue, "TV Guide" magazine called the explanation for the cancellation "the most stupid reason a network ever gave for ending a series."Fact|date=March 2008

Matt Groening is quoted as saying "If "Police Squad!" had been made twenty years later, it would have been a smash. It was before its time. In 1982 your average viewer was unable to cope with its pace, its quick-fire jokes. But these days they'd have no problems keeping up, I think we've proved that."Fact|date=March 2008


Main Cast

*Leslie Nielsen - Detective Frank Drebin
*Alan North - Captain Ed Hocken
*Peter Lupus - Officer Norberg
*Ed Williams - Ted Olson, Scientist
*William Duell - Johnny the Snitch
*Ronald "Tiny Ron" Taylor - Al
*Rex Hamilton - Abraham Lincoln

Of the main cast, Nielsen, Williams and Taylor were the only ones who returned and were portrayed by the same actors in "The Naked Gun" film series.

Guest stars

During the opening credits of each episode, a well-known actor is introduced as a "special guest star", but then meets a grisly death during the introduction, thus completing their appearance on the show. Stars included:
# Lorne Greene (stabbed and thrown from a speeding car)
# Georg Stanford Brown (crushed by a falling safe)
# Robert Goulet (executed by firing squad)
# William Shatner (dodges a salvo of bullets but drinks poisoned wine)
# Florence Henderson (gunned down while singing in a kitchen)
# William Conrad (stabbed and thrown from a speeding car)

A sequence was filmed with John Belushi (chained to concrete blocks underwater) but the actor died shortly before the episode was due to air, and the producers decided not to use the scene. According to the Internet Movie Database the producers wanted to include the Belushi scene when "Police Squad" was rebroadcast in the 1990s, but the footage could not be located and is presumed lost.Fact|date=March 2008

Running gags and well-known sequences

Title sequence

The title sequence was packed with sight and visual gags. A selection:

* Spoofing 1960s police show "N.Y.P.D.", the opening credits would show a red flashing squad car light going down a city street.
* Again spoofing Quinn Martin's crime dramas, the announcer was Hank Simms. Simms has done the introductory announcing for most of Martin's shows, like "The F.B.I.", "The Streets of San Francisco" and "Barnaby Jones" to name a few.
* The 1982 TV show stated it was "In Color", because in the 1960s when color was starting to replace black and white on television programs, many television series produced prior to 1970 that were filmed in color included the fact either in their opening credits, or before the very first scene. Most ABC programs in the late-1960s had special show openings with the "in color" phrase, generally preceding the show's first scene and the opening credits themselves.
* When Captain Hocken is introduced in his office, someone offscreen starts shooting the place up, with ridiculous results (people catching on fire, jumping out windows, etc; one woman even throws her baby on the floor as she runs away).
* Rex Hamilton stars in a quick spot as Abraham Lincoln, who is narrowly missed when shot at, and returns fire. According to Pat Proft, had the show been renewed for a second season, this sequence would have been replaced by Mahatma Gandhi brandishing an assault rifle (a gag which later appeared in the Weird Al Yankovic film UHF, apparently developed independently).
* The getting shot at and shooting back part was taken from the Lee Marvin cop show, "M Squad".cite web | title=Intro video for TV series "M Squad" at Youtube|url=http://youtube.com/watch?v=PHh-miIqopE| accessmonthday=January 19| accessyear=2008]


:"See also List of Police Squad! episodes"The opening sequence of each episode ends with an on-screen graphic listing the title of the episode, accompanied by an announcer's voice-over intentionally giving a different title for the episode. The list of episode titles, with the on-screen graphic title followed by the announcer's title in parentheses:

# A Substantial Gift (The Broken Promise)
# Ring of Fear (A Dangerous Assignment)
# The Butler Did It (A Bird in the Hand)
# Revenge and Remorse (The Guilty Alibi)
# Rendezvous at Big Gulch (Terror in the Neighborhood)
# Testimony of Evil (Dead Men Don't Laugh)

This joke was also used in the series of commercials for Red Rock Cider (see "below")

Running gags

* Frank Drebin's rank constantly changes, often many times within a single scene. He often introduces himself (in narrative) as "Sergeant Frank Drebin, Detective Lieutenant Police Squad", which is a non-existent rank made up of three real ones. (Larger police departments often have Detective Lieutenants and Detective Sergeants, but NOT all three titles.) Also, in the first episode, a witness first refers to Drebin as 'Sergeant' then a few lines later calls him both 'Lieutenant Drebin' and finally 'Captain Drebin'.
* Drebin repeatedly drives into something (usually trash cans) when he parks his car. The number of trash cans he hits indicates the episode number e.g. one in episode one, two in episode two, and so on.
* Each episode had a crime lab scene where Ted Olson is giving a highly suspect or dangerous lesson to a kid, in a parody of "Watch Mr. Wizard", when Frank interrupts him.
* Ted uses the doorway while Frank walks around the set. This gag is repeated in
* Drebin would offer a cigarette or coffee to people he was interviewing with the line "Cigarette?" (or "Coffee?") as if offering, to which they would respond "Yes, I know" or "Yes, it is."cite episode
title = A Substantial Gift (The Broken Promise)
episodelink = A Substantial Gift (The Broken Promise)
series = Police Squad!
serieslink = Police Squad!
airdate = 1982-03-04
season = 1
number = 1
] Drebin's usual response would be a slightly nonplussed "Well..." This joke was used in .
* Drebin would be shown driving, narrating himself from off-camera (in the style of "Dragnet") and at some point would mention driving through the "Little Italy" section of the city, with stock footage of the Roman Colosseum visible behind the car. This gag was carried over to the films.
* Drebin frequently needs to meet with Johnny, the omniscient shoeshine boy who knows everything, for "the word on the street". Johnny won't actually tell Frank anything until Frank slips him a bribe (often saying, "I dunno anything about it," or, "It's a big city," until he's paid). Each time Frank leaves Johnny, a specialist or celebrity arrives, and asks Johnny for advice about their particular profession:
** A doctor asks Johnny how to perform an operation
** A priest inquires about Johnny's views on life after death
** A fireman is instructed how to fight a fire at a furniture warehouse
** Dick Clark asks about ska and also has Johnny give him more "Secret Formula Youth Cream" which he smears on his face
** Joyce Brothers talks with Johnny about psychology
** Tommy Lasorda wonders about baseball, specifically his problems with his pitching staff
* The Act II label is followed by a joke:
** Act II: Bruté?
** Act II: Gesundheit
** Act II: Richard III
** Act II: Ball III
** Act II: Lieber
** Act II: Yankees One
* The weekly criminal is always sent to "the Statesville Prison" (a pun on State Prison). Captain Hocken recites the names of the criminals caught in the previous episodes, so by episode six, five names are recited plus the final culprit.
* The glass door of the squad room has "Police Squad" written on it in gold in such a manner that whichever side you look at it, one of the words is written backwards.
* The Zucker Brothers hailed from Shorewood, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee. In every episode, a discreet reference is made to Milwaukee.
* Al is often seen wearing a shirt relevant to a conversation of Ed and Drebin, usually involving locations
* The moment before the ending credits, the characters would freeze up and hold a pose, while action in the background continued normally during the credits, parodying the "freeze-frame" credit endings typical of police dramas and action shows of the era.


filename=Police Squad! theme.ogg
title=Police Squad! Opening Theme
description=The famous theme, composed by Ira Newborn.
The opening and closing music was penned by composer Ira Newborn. The jumping big band/blues theme was retained for the "Naked Gun" movies (along with the opening police-light visual of the "Police Squad!" series) and may be Newborn's best-known single tune. It has been covered by some swing-style dance bands on CD, and has even been scored in marching-band style by arranger Paul Jennings.

The animated TV series "Family Guy" used the theme in the opening of its "PTV" episode, complete with character Stewie Griffin's tricycle replacing the visual of the Police Squad car.cite episode
title = PTV
episodelink = PTV (Family Guy)
series = Family Guy
serieslink = Family Guy
airdate = 2005-11-06
season = 4
number = 14

Awards and Nominations

Emmy Awards

1982 - Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series - Leslie Nielsen - Nominated [http://www.emmys.com/awards/awardsearch.php Advanced Primetime Awards Search] from the Emmy Awards website] .
1982 - Outstanding Writing In A Comedy Series - David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker - for the episode: "A Substantial Gift (The Broken Promise)" - Nominated

Other Awards

2006 - Satellite Award for Best DVD Release of a TV Show - "The Complete Series" - Nominated cite web | title=Police Squad! at the Internet Movie Database| work=Awards| url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083466/awards | accessmonthday=January 3| accessyear=2008]

DVD release

The series was released to DVD by Paramount Pictures in a keepcase, on one disccite web | title=Police Squad! The TVIV| work=DVD Release|url=http://tviv.org/Police_Squad%21/The_Complete_Series| accessmonthday=January 3| accessyear=2008] on November 6, 2006cite web | title=Police Squad! at the Internet Movie Database| work=DVD Releases| url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083466/dvd| accessmonthday=January 3| accessyear=2008] in the United Kingdom, and a day later in the United States and Germany (as Die nackte Pistole! - Die komplette Serie). The DVD release was nominated for a Satellite Award for Best DVD Release of a TV Show. This wasn't the first time the ZAZ were nominated for this award, they were also nominated for two other Satellite Awards for best DVD release for their early movie "Airplane!"cite web | title=Airplane! at the Internet Movie Database| work=Awards| url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080339/awards| accessmonthday=January 3| accessyear=2008]

Special features include:

* Audio commentaries by David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, Robert K. Weiss and Robert Wuhl on the episodes "A Substantial Gift (The Broken Promise)", "The Butler Did It (A Bird in the Hand)" and "Testimony of Evil (Dead Men Don't Laugh)".
* Bloopers
* A new interview with Leslie Nielsen.
* The castings of Alan North (Ed Hocken) and Ed Williams (Ted Olson).

Other Releases

Before the DVD release of the show the first three episodes and the last three episodes were released separately on VHS as "Police Squad! Help Wanted"cite web | title=Police Squad! at the All Movie Guide| work=Similar Movies |url=http://wm04.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=A175267| accessmonthday=January 3| accessyear=2008] and "Police Squad! Vol. 2"cite web | title=Police Squad! Vol. 2 at the All Movie Guide|url=http://wm04.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=1:208996| accessmonthday=January 3| accessyear=2008] and later all six together on VHS called "More! Police Squad!". The episodes were released in a similar configuration on Laserdisc. For this release, some of the music used in the original series — such as “Happy Birthday” in Episode 3 — was replaced with other music.

Reruns aired on A&E in 1988, Comedy Central beginning in 1991 and in primetime on CBS during the summer of 1991 following the release of .


The Naked Gun Films

Six years after the cancellation of Police Squad! (see "above" for more information), the first Naked Gun film was released called '. It performed well at the box office grossing around $78,756,177.cite web | title=BoxofficeMojo|work=The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!| url=http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=nakedgun.htm|accessmonthday=January 11 |accessyear=2008] It became a hit comedy, it became so popular that two sequels ' (1991) and "" (1994) were released, "The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear" was considered best of the three, grossing around $86,930,411.cite web | title=BoxofficeMojo|work=The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear| url=http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=thenakedgun2.htm|accessmonthday=January 11 |accessyear=2008] (while "Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult" grossed $51,132,598cite web | title=BoxofficeMojo|work=The Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult| url=http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=thenakedgun3.htm|accessmonthday=January 11 |accessyear=2008] ) All three movies were rated 3 stars by Roger Ebertcite web | title=RogerEbert.com|work=The Naked Gun 2½: The smell of Fear| url=http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19910628/REVIEWS/106280302/1023|accessmonthday=January 11 |accessyear=2008] and winning a Golden Screen award for best Picturecite web | title=The Naked Gun 2½: The smell of Fear at the Internet Movie Database|work=The Naked Gun 2½: The smell of Fear/Awards| url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102510/awards|accessmonthday=January 11 |accessyear=2008] .

Red Rock Cider Commercials

A series of British advertisements for Red Rock Cider made in the same style, with the opening titles changed to other names such as "Fraud Squad" or "Fried Squid", also featured Leslie Nielsen. In one of these ads, Nielsen shouts, "Hey! You, over there, in the shadows!" The man steps forward and reveals himself to be Hank Marvincite web | title=Red Rock Cider commercials on Youtube|url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdc-Yym6d4Q| accessmonthday=January 11| accessyear=2008] , guitarist with sixties pop group, the Shadows. The catchphrase was "Red Rock Cider—it's not red, and there's no rocks in it."The opening titles were also re-used for the commercials (see "above"), they included

* There Go My Trousers (Terror in the Night)
* Operation Undercover (The Secret Assignment)cite web | title=Red Rock Cider commercials on Youtube|url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmhwTxosYU4| accessmonthday=January 11| accessyear=2008] and some other titles.

Some of the jokes that were used in the commercials were originally taken from "Police Squad!" such as when Frank says "Cover me!" he gets covered with a blanket, which was one of the gags taken from The Butler Did It (A Bird in the Hand).

Other Spin-Offs

After the show's cancellation (and well before production on the "Naked Gun" movies), the producers considered turning the show into a movie by linking several episodes together with new scenes. A few of these scenes were actually filmed (including an elaborate "freeze frame" gag involving a burning courtroom) before the project was abandoned.Fact|date=March 2008

The Police Squad characters were resurrected during the WWF's Summerslam 1994 PPV. In this guise, they were looking for The Undertaker, who in storylines had previously vanished.cite book|title=Wrestlecr
last=Baer|first=Randy|coauthors=R.D. Reynolds|publisher=ECW Press|date=2003|pages=168|isbn=1550225847
] .

ee also

* "Sledge Hammer!"


External links

* [http://tvmegasite.net/prime/shows/police/ The TV MegaSite's Police Squad Site]
* [http://youtube.com/watch?v=PHh-miIqopE Intro video] for TV series "M Squad"

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