Police Squad! (ABC 1982, Leslie Nielsen, Alan North)

What can you say about a series that ultimately helped prolong the acting career of O.J. Simpson?

Actually, that dubious distinction aside, Police Squad! the series was most noteworthy for launching the successful Naked Gun trilogy. Ironically, though the series was filled with the same sight gags and non sequiturs as the films, the show died after a six-episode run.

The police-drama spoof, like the movies, starred Leslie Nielsen as Det. Frank Drebin. Each episode began with a special guest star getting killed during the opening credits: Lorne Greene and William Conrad were knifed and thrown from cars, Florence Henderson was shot, Robert Goulet was shot by a firing squad and William Shatner drank a glass of poisoned wine.

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Other trademarks: an opening voice-over that read a different show title from the one shown onscreen and Drebin’s straightfaced babbling. (Is this some kind of bust? a woman asked. Yes, ma’am, it’s very impressive, but we need to ask you a few questions.)

So many visual jokes peppered each episode – like the police photog who takes a picture of an officer mugging for the camera with a corpse – that you needed a VCR to record and rewind in order to catch them all. After its ABC run spawned the Naked Gun movie series, CBS gave the show another shot in a July-through-September rerun of all six episodes in 1991. And though the movies continued to do well at the box office, ratings for the series were some kind of bust.

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production details
USA | ABC – Paramount | 6×25 minutes | 1982

Creator and Executive Producers: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker

cast
Leslie Nielsen as Lt. Frank Drebin
Alan North as Captain Ed Hocken
Ed Williams as Ted Olson

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.