The Funniest Show That Never Was: 'Police Squad!'

Unraveling the Hilarity and Tragedy of TV's Most Short-Lived Comedy Masterpiece.

In the annals of television history, there are shows that shine brightly, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape of comedy. Among these, "Police Squad!" stands out not just for its comedic genius but for the tragic brevity of its existence. Created by the minds behind "Airplane!"—Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker—this short-lived gem of a series has become a cult classic, revered by fans and critics alike for its unparalleled wit and slapstick humor.

The Premise: A Parody Masterpiece

"Police Squad!" was a spoof of police procedural shows, following the misadventures of Detective Frank Drebin, played by the incomparable Leslie Nielsen. Each episode was a whirlwind of sight gags, puns, and absurd humor, delivered with impeccable timing by Nielsen and the talented ensemble cast.

Police Squad! The first episode is a shot-by-shot remake of 'M Squad' (1957-1960)

The show took aim at the serious tone of crime dramas of its time, flipping the script on the genre with outrageous storylines and deadpan delivery. 

From the opening credits 'In Color', to the running gags that threaded through each episode, "Police Squad!" was a masterclass in parody.

Police Squad! Poster

The Cast: A Comedic Dream Team

At the heart of "Police Squad!" was Leslie Nielsen as Detective Frank Drebin, a bumbling, clueless, and yet somehow effective police officer. Nielsen's deadpan delivery and ability to sell even the most ludicrous lines with a straight face were the perfect comedic foil to the chaos that ensued around him.

Supporting Nielsen was a cast of comedic talents, including Alan North as Captain Ed Hocken, Ed Williams as Officer Norberg, and the unforgettable Peter Lupus as the towering, silent Officer Nordberg. The chemistry among the cast was palpable, elevating the show's already hilarious writing to new heights.

Police Squad!

The Legacy: A Cult Classic

Despite its brilliance, "Police Squad!" suffered from poor timing and network mismanagement. ABC aired only four of the six produced episodes before canceling the show due to low ratings. The decision to cancel "Police Squad!" remains one of the most lamentable in television history, leaving fans clamoring for more of its zany humor.

However, the story doesn't end there. The cancellation of "Police Squad!" paved the way for its resurrection on the big screen. The success of the show's creators with "Airplane!" led to the creation of "The Naked Gun" film series, starring Leslie Nielsen as Frank Drebin. These films carried on the spirit of "Police Squad!" with Nielsen's trademark deadpan humor and absurd plotlines.

Police Squad!

A True Comedy Gem

Today, "Police Squad!" lives on as a cult classic, cherished by fans who appreciate its unique brand of humor. Its influence can be felt in countless comedy shows and films that followed, each owing a debt to its groundbreaking style.

For those lucky enough to discover "Police Squad!" and its hilariously inept hero, Detective Frank Drebin, it remains a testament to the power of comedy done right. Its six short episodes may leave fans wanting more, but they also serve as a reminder of the brilliance that can arise from the most unlikely of sources.

Police Squad!

In the pantheon of television comedies, "Police Squad!" stands tall as a shining example of what could have been—a show ahead of its time, cut down in its prime, but never forgotten. 

For fans of comedy that pushes boundaries, embraces the absurd, and leaves you laughing until your sides ache, "Police Squad!" remains the funniest show that never was.

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