Tuesday, October 6, 2015

From the Files of Police Squad!

After the success of Airplane! Hollywood was clamoring for projects from David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker, otherwise known as ZAZ. Their signature type of humor was rapid fire jokes, often told with a straight face by actors not known for being comedians. One of their first post-Airplane! projects was Police Squad!, an attempt to bring their sense of humor to the small screen.

ABC picked up the show for a six episode trial, seeking to bring the magic of Airplane! to the network, which was in need of a comedy hit. Leslie Nielsen was brought in to play the befuddled Frank Drebin, who always got his man (or woman) despite his general incompetence. 

The show was a ratings disappointment, despite being one of the most hilarious sitcoms ever produced. As Leslie Nielsen hypothesized, the show required viewers to pay attention in order to catch all of the jokes. That was difficult considering that people at home are distracted by any number of things. The show was canceled after its short season, but provided the inspiration for the Naked Gun films which were wildly successful.