Wednesday, December 28, 2005

"Act II: Gesundheit!"

Police Squad! is coming to DVD

(In Color)

TV Shows on DVD reports that Paramount Home Entertainment is looking at sometime in 2006 for the release. Vague, but I'll take it.

I still remember the first time I saw Police Squad!, which was actually the 4th week it was on: "Revenge and Remorse (The Guilty Alibi)." I was in Phoenix during Spring Break, so between preparing for traveling and the traveling itself I didn't even know the Airplane! guys had a show. Imagine my surprise when literally the funniest thing I'd ever seen came on. Never before or since (with the possible exception of MST3K) have I laughed that hard.

Today it's said that it was a ratings failure, but if my memory serves (I may be wrong about some of what follows, but my memory is usually pretty good about useless things like this), it did poorly in the first run because of a lack of promotion, so ABC cancelled it... but then they ran the episodes again.

By the second time through, word had spread and the show was a hit. You may think the quote about Police Squad! being cancelled because it required too much viewer attention is apocryphal, but I'm here to tell you it's true.

In fact, I remember being in my apartment in Chicago and hearing on TV (I think it was Entertainment Tonight) that they had nabbed Tony Thomopoulos, then president of ABC, outside some event, and were asking him why he would persist in axing what was at the time one of the few hits on his schedule.

I turned around just in time to hear Thomopoulos casually explain that research showed that people watched the show too closely to catch all the jokes, which made them tune out during commercials. Ideally, a TV show should be watched at a flatter level of attention.

Obviously, such a startling admission from a network president really stuck with me. Had there been such a thing as TiVo, I would have played it over and over.

Anyway, my wishlist for the DVD extras would include ZAZ commentary, the never-shown John Belushi opening -- shelved because of his death -- and a few episodes of M Squad with Lee Marvin, the real show that inspired it.

And, to this day, my absolute favorite pure, unadulterated joke ever on TV is from the episode where Frank Drebin, undercover as a locksmith, is discovered having broken into a crime boss's office :

Crime Boss: Who are you and how did you get in here?
Drebin: I'm a locksmith... and I'm a locksmith.

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