CBS Home Entertainment truly provides a cure for what ails us by releasing the complete series Blu-ray of the 1982 sitcom "Police Squad!" on April 14, 2020. Watching it during the COVID-induced lockdown is almost as exciting as being able to buy toilet paper. One can only hope that the plans of CBSHE include new editions of the "Naked" Gun" film series that "Squad!" spawns.
Owning the older DVD version of "Squad!" allows stating that CBSHE does what becomes a comedy legend most as to its restoration of this cult classic.
"Squad" is the brilliant result of the Zucker Brothers of "Airplane!" fame doing for the ultra-serious Quinn-Martin procedurals, such as "The FBI," of the '60s and '70s what Mel Brooks does for the Bond films and other spy movies in the '60scom "Get Smart." Both series validate the theory of comedy god Carol Burnett that "funny always is funny." "Squad!" also stays fresh by largely avoiding topical references that would seem stale almost 30 years later.
"Airplane" star Leslie "Don't Call Me Shirley" Nielsen plays "Squad!" main man Frank Drebin, who is a detective with a generic police department in the State of Statesville. Statesville may include Townsville where pre-adolescent superheros The Powerpuff Girls reside.
A highly entertaining and informative interview with Nielsen that is one of several BD bonus features perfectly explains the blessing and the curse of "Squad!". Nielsen states that the series fails in his namesake ratings because copious sight gags and the sometimes subtle jokes require paying attention to the program. He goes on to observe that a large portion of the American viewing public uses television as ambient noise.
A real-life Twitter exchange with CBSHE as to this release PERFECTLY illustrates the Zuckertastic juvenile humor of "Squad!" The CBSHE team tweet refers to Drebin battling criminal elements; the response of your not-so-humble reviewer comments that Beryllium is nothin' but trouble.
The nature of "Squad!" makes an abbreviated anatomy of an episode an apt theme for conveying its strong humor.
Each week finds Drebin and partner-in-crime-solving Ed Hocken (Alan North) taking on a new case. Ala "Smart," these episodes included a combination of a variation on a frequent comedic concept and brand-new humor. The former begins with the opening credits that conclude with an announcement of the "Special Guest Star," who quickly meets his or her end, of the week. Les Freres Zucker save the best for next to last by having Florence Henderson getting to display her Wessonality for only a few seconds.
The audience then is treated to more good humor regarding the intertitle that announces the name of the episode. Suffice it to say that the carpets never match the drapes.
Each outing sets the stage for "sit" that provides the "com" by putting the nefarious scheme of the week in play. This leads to a scene of Drebin delivering an interior monologue complete with predictable (but still amusing to hilarious) sight gag as he drives to the scene of the crime.
The early stages of the ensuing investigation always involve a visit to CSI lab rat Mr. Olson. His contribution to the humor of the episode begins with giving young children increasingly dark scientific experiments, include showing how cats cannot breathe underwater, and going on to give these innocents perverse homework assignments.
This leads to the end of Act One, which leads to an amusing to hilarious intertitle for Act Two. This soon leads to Drebin engaging in a shoot out with the perp. The fun wraps up with an squad-room episode in which Drebin and Hocken recap their adventure while being the only ones in the room to freeze in place.
Each episode also has Drebin visit an informant who operates a shoe shine stand. This leads to (mostly) celebrities, who soon follow Drebin to ask the stool (pun intended) pigeon absurd questions. A highlight is '70s and '80s pop psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers inquiring about "The Cinderella Complex."
Although every episode is strong, the pilot (i.e., the person who flies an airplane but that is irrelevant) is the creme de la creme. "A Substantial Gift" revolves around a bank employee who falsely pins her robbery on a not-so-innocent person. Highlights in this one include a hilarious ballistics test regarding the angle of a gunshot wound and a bit that puts the Abbott and Costello "Who's On First" routine to shame.
The aforementioned Blu-ray extras also include an amusing Gag Reel and screen tests.