Police Squad! (1982)

(On DVD, December 2010) Almost thirty years later, this short-lived TV series still holds up splendidly.  Best-known as the prototype for the Naked Gun! trilogy of police movie spoofs, Police Squad! is an amusing attempt to translate the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker brand of rapid-paced comedy to the TV screen.  The pacing is slower than the films but is considerably faster than most sitcoms and as a result still works pretty well even today, echoing the rhythm of latter series such as The Simpsons and Family Guy.  Leslie Nielsen is great as Frank Drebin, although his TV portrayal is a bit more competent that the film’s doofus character.  One of the ways the series can sustain its rapid-fire stream of comedy is by recycling gags, and it’s hard to tell whether they’re funnier the first or the sixth time: The end-of-episode fake-freeze moments still feel inspired today.  At six episodes, total running time for the series on DVD is slightly over two hours, making it an ideal length for an evening’s viewing.  The DVD contains a generous amount of supplementary material, including three episode commentaries and a gag reel.

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