Short one today, folks, but a good one. Normally the Full Experience banner is reserved for children's shows (hence why the majority of it is in the Kid Show section) but we have good reason for making an exception.
Recently I was hunting around in my dad's vast videotape collection and found a tape labeled "Police Squad." Police Squad! is about a cop played by Leslie Nielsen who lives inside a Wallace Wood MAD comic panel, constantly surrounded on all sides by puns and nonsequiturs. There was nothing like it on TV at the time when it premiered, nor had there been anything like it before, unless you count Monty Python running around the same time on PBS. The show was at least 20 years ahead of its time, and in keeping with how such shows are typically treated, only lasted six episodes before its immediate cancellation. According to an exec at ABC, "the viewer had to watch it in order to appreciate it," and that was a problem.
Because Police Squad! had the lifespan of a housefly, most people discovered it after the fact. Those six episodes eventually became cult hits and led to the revival of the show in the form of the Naked Gun trilogy. I expected any Police Squad! episodes on this tape of Dad's to have been made from one of their many cable channel repeats, but it wasn't....he was actually with the show from Airing #1 and the entire thing was taped from its original ABC appearance. You had to pay attention to get them all, because the show disappeared mid-run and had its final two episodes dumped in the summer. He got it all.
Unfortunately another thing Dad had a tendency to do was cut out ads, and ads are mostly removed from his Police Squad! tape, making them worth no more than a legitimate release...with the exception of Episode 5. For some reason all the ads were intact in that one. I looked up the airdate, and.....that episode aired the day I was born.
I don't know if it was a controversial move for Dad to temporarily leave the hospital just so he could set the timer for this show. But I am very grateful he did. If I had the ability to speak that day, I would have stood up in the bassinet, looked Dad in the eye and told him "I know this is an emotional moment, but BE SURE YOU REMEMBER TO SET THE TIMER FOR POLICE SQUAD TONIGHT! I'M GOING TO WANT TO WATCH THAT IN 30-PLUS YEARS."
How cool is this? It's not only an uncut recording from the date of my birth, but it's Police Squad! It wasn't far off from my birthday when I found this, and it's one of the best unintentional presents ever.
In the event that you don't have a father who preserved things like this, Police Squad! isn't hard to find through other means. The run was so short that it was one of the few TV shows that had its complete run published on DVD, VHS and even Laserdisc. That's well and good, but it's not the FULL EXPERIENCE....
|When the ancient VCR that preserved Police
Squad! loudly clicked itself active, these two spots
were recorded before the show began. One is an ad for
Grandma's Cookies that promotes a then-new variant called
"Swirls," which the old lady mishears as
"Squirrels" and starts complaining.
The second ad is for Rainier Beer, and you need to understand something before you view it: Rainier is a beverage brand specific to the Northwest and based on the evidence I've collected they ran a lot of ads around this time, most of them being offbeat and strange. This one throws viewers for a loop by starting out completely normal, and stays that way until taking a hard left at the end.
Speaking of hard lefts, Police Squad! is full of them.
"Where's the victim?"
"Over there....she looks pretty bad."
"Good evening ma'am, this is Sergeant
Drebin of New York--"
"FRANK! Not THAT bad; that's her over THERE."
"Good evening ma'am, this is Sergeant
Drebin of New York. Cigarette?"
"Yes it is."
You get the idea.
|This evening's festivities were also sponsored by Cool Whip and McDonalds. McDonalds basically made the same ad for many years, so there isn't much you can say about it. It's a song about somebody going to McDonalds, framed by a yellow border. You've seen one, you've seen them all. As for Cool Whip, they apparently improved upon the whipping technology so it would stay fresh slightly longer. Impressive for '82, but these waitresses' minds would be blown if they saw the 21st century whipped cream we take for granted NOW.|
|I put this 3 Musketeers ad up earlier
from a different source, with the caption that it starred
an undiscovered Ally Sheedy; ever since, people have told
me that's not actually Sheedy in the ad. Maybe I goofed
up, maybe I didn't....it sure looks like her; Ally, you
wanna chime in and confirm this? The narration is
slightly different from the other copy, but it still
contains the all-important line "The more it's
whipped, the bigger it gets." Goodnight everybody!
The next ad consists of a slightly plump woman gloating about roach-killing products to the point where she cackles like a crone just thinking about the fate her vermin are going to face. This is the first ad for a Roach Motel I've ever seen, yet I already knew what the slogan was. Everybody knows it. It's one of the most iconic taglines ever. When Freddy turned that weightlifting girl into a roach, you knew exactly what quip he was about to throw out.
This is followed by a 20/20 promo starring a young, fresh-faced Geraldo Rivera with no nose scars.
|So speaking of unidentifiable
celebrities in old ads....does anyone care to confirm
that Lea Thompson is in this Burger King ad? I know she's
confirmed to be in at least one of them from around this
The final ad is a doozy: it's a real, honest-to-goodness Blade Runner trailer! YEEEEEEAAAAAHHHHHH!!
Many of the gags in Police Squad! were sendups of cop show cliches that needed a takedown. All of the six episodes end the same way: Frank and his assistant stand around and make closing wisecracks, then laugh, then freeze in mid-pose -- literally. Everything else is moving around them while the credits roll. In each subsequent episode they play around with this in a different way. In Episode 5 Frank is pouring coffee as he freezes, and as the credits roll the liquid starts spilling out of the cup and all over the floor. This was one of several running gags that rewarded the loyal viewer: in the opening scene, Frank would crash into some trash cans. There was always at least one more trash can in the scene than there was in the last episode -- usually the same number as the episode you were watching.
Too confusing for early 80's viewers, right? Don't want to put anything on you have to watch to understand.
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