The Leslie Nielsen Addendum

The other day, I wrote briefly about Leslie Nielsen. I had yet to see Police Squad. And now, I’ve seen Police Squad and I feel somewhat obligated to add to what I wrote the other day. Because Police Squad was hilarious.

The whole series amounts to six episodes, approximately 25 minutes in length, for a grand total of about 2 hours and 20 minutes. In other words, it’s like a slightly long comedy since comedies are usually about 90-120 minutes. That’s not too far from what The Naked Gun movies were, which of course were films spun off of Police Squad. And the beauty of it is that the humor is cumulative. The gags and one-liners and bits aren’t hilarious by themselves. If you saw just a two minute segment of the show, you might chuckle and smile. But each episode was a series of two minute segments ripe with humor. You start off chuckling and smiling. Then you chuckle and smile some more. Then you’re in full-blown laughter and it doesn’t stop for another hour and your sides hurt. I’ll give some examples here in a second. Ultimately the only reason I’m writing this is that I felt it was necessary to do Leslie Nielsen justice. If I’d seen Police Squad at any point in the last 30 years, it would have been included in my entry the other day. Hell, it would’ve been the focal point. But alas, I was only six years old when the show originally aired. Now, on to the youtubey goodness of Police Squad.

This should give you a pretty good idea of what you’re in for:

Odds are good that you’ve seen the show’s intro spoofed somewhere. Family Guy, amongst other shows, has done a knockoff of it. And the first time I saw the actual intro while watching the show is when I started laughing. Rex Hamilton, by the way, never actually appeared in the episodes other than in the intro as “Abraham Lincoln”. And that kills me:

Some of Frank Drebin/Leslie Nielsen’s top notch police work. And a monkey. No, really… a monkey.

Note the chalk outline at the beginning of this clip:

Another running bit was Johnny the Shoe Shine Boy, who never knew anything… until you bribed him, at which point he became a wealth of knowledge. Usually, the wisdom he imparted went first to Drebin, and then on to a celebrity from the wonderful world of 1982. Amongst others, Johnny informed Dick Clark about a new genre of music called “ska”; Tommy Lasorda about the perils of a four man rotation; and Joyce Brothers about the psychological effects of women entering the workplace (hey, it was 1982).

The show’s “Epilogue” was a running gag, and it got me to laugh every single time.


Filed under Humor, TV Shows

4 responses to “The Leslie Nielsen Addendum

  1. Jim

    Police Squad! was terrific, and it’s early cancellation goes to show that America’s taste in TV has sucked for quite a long time.

    I believe Richard Benjamin’s “Quark” lasted longer, and that was about a garbage man in space!

    Just checked on IMDB, and I’m right – it lasted 8 episodes:

    And I watched them all when I was 6!!

    • One of the bonuses on the disc was an interview with Nielsen (and it must have been somewhat recent, given his age in the interview). He said that one of the reasons the show was cancelled, ironically enough, was that you “had to watch it”. What the studio meant was that you couldn’t look away, not even for a second, because you’d miss a gag. It made perfect sense to me because I was having a hard time catching all of the one-liners and visual gags. I’m sure I missed a bunch.

      And the Zuckers and Abraham were disappointed with the cancellation, so Nielsen recommended making a movie. The rest is history. Ricardo Montalban-infused history.

  2. Paul Mazzoni

    Wow. Even my kids saw this before you. I remember seeing it on TV when it came out and was heartbroken when what I thought would be the 7th episode ended up being some other show instead. I own the DVD now and love watching them.

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