After the sad passing of Leslie Nielsen, we’ve spent quite a few enjoyable hours this week watching our DVD of Police Squad!, and it’s every bit as great as we remember it. Best of all, though, the DVD itself contains a bunch of wonderful special features, and here are a few of them that work as framegrabs.(Click for larger versions, by the way.)
First up, a list of potential demises for the brilliant Special Guest Star jokes in the opening credits.
As every schoolboy knows, the scene listed at number nine actually was filmed, only for it never to air due to John Belushi’s very real death before the series made it to air. This is also mentioned in one of the hugely enjoyable commentary tracks – the divers due to give air to Belushi once the shot was completed didn’t quite manage it as quickly as had been hoped, leading to the star of Animal House choking on water. Once it became clear he wasn’t in life-threatening danger, the directors and Belushi chuckled out faux eulogies that would soon become ALL TOO REAL.
One thing we’d not known about Police Squad was that once the series had been cancelled, some linking scenes were shot so that edited versions of the six episodes could be compiled and put out as a standalone movie. Sadly, we don’t get to see the linking scenes on the disc, but we do get to see the extra-long freeze-frame joke that was filmed for the end credits. It’s possible the original footage was lost, as the version we get is from a second camera, to the right of the action. It’s lovely to see, and it does mean we get to hear the stage directions, and the cast wonderfully breaking character as the scene cuts, allowing everyone to finally release the laughter they’d been holding in for about four minutes.
Possibly our favourite of the extras is the chance to see some scanned production memos. Heck, yeah! These include a list of Broadcast Standards and Practices cuts that Paramount insist be made to the original scripts.
“Please delete “we’ll look into some interesting experiments we can do with ordinary household lubricants”.”
“Please substitute for ‘snot’.” The original line can be heard in another of the great special features, Ed Williams’ original casting test. The cheery lab guy who was always keen to teach young school kids about the wonders of science originally said “next time, I’ll show you how to get snot off suede”. The replacement line suggested here is actually funnier than that, not to mention that it’s actually ruder.
There’s a lovely staff memo from Abraham and the Zuckers, ticking off the cast and crew for their lackadaisical standards of dress. “You might take a second look at Jan Kemper’s come-hither style, with her oh-so-smart cardigans complimenting those too-tight capris.”
There’s an internal communication from the show creators to Paramount honchos Gary Nardino and Mark Ovitz, insisting that the show simply must not have a laugh track. Quite correctly, too – as the trio point out in the commentary track for the first episode, the audience would have been laughing over the top of the dialogue on spotting the multitude of sight gags scattered throughout each episode.
Quite poignantly, we also get to see the letter from ABC confirming that the show would be put on hiatus, after just four of the six episodes had been shown. Boo. Still, at least we did get two great Naked Gun films out of it all, eh? And The Naked Gun 33⅓ too, but that was a bit rubbish.
If you don’t own Police Squad on DVD, this needs to be rectified IMMEDIATELY. Amazon are currently selling it at a mere £3.97, though it doesn’t cost too much more elsewhere. Here’s a listing of where it can be bought cheaply. If you don’t buy it, then you deserve to be arrested!
[ALL STARE INTO CAMERA AND FREEZE UNSTEADILY AS THE END CREDITS ROLL.]