by Bob Grimm & r & & r & Police Squad: The Complete Series & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & O & lt;/span & ne of my favorite all-time television shows finally comes to DVD. Before it morphed into a semi-funny film franchise, Police Squad was a hilarious, short-lived TV program. I remember how critics loved this thing, but nobody (other than my brother and I) took the time to take it in. It was cancelled after only six shows.
Leslie Nielsen, a couple of years after his Airplane success with the Zucker Brothers, headlined this show, and it's the best work he has done in his long career. The first two episodes of the show are brilliant, especially "Ring of Fear," which spoofs boxing movies (the Ali-like champ delivers poetic lines like "Jack and Jill went up the hill ... I'm gonna break your face"). The joke factor is remarkably high (there seems to be a good one every 10 seconds) and the comic timing of the actors is pitch perfect.
The greatest thing in each of these episodes would be the epilogues, which always ended in a fake freeze frame. Nielsen and his screen partner Alan North would strike a pose, but the world would continue around them. They'd start blinking their eyes and stretching their mouths, seemingly waiting for the credits to end. Each episode would present new scenarios, such as a prisoner noticing the fake freeze frame and trying to escape, or a chimpanzee running amok while the actors stand still. Priceless.
I suppose we've seen the end of the Naked Gun films (the big screen version of the show). Many probably aren't aware that they were inspired by a TV show. Here's your chance to see where it all started. The consensus among the creators seemed to be that the Police Squad's future was at cinemas rather than on weekly television. The movies made big money, and they were funny, but I still think the funniest Police Squad moments occurred on the TV screen.
Also, among the special features, there's a terrific freeze-frame shot done for a potential movie that didn't get made: A cigar starts a massive fire in a courtroom, and the place falls to pieces around the actors as they try to remain still. (Many of them flinch.)