One good thing about the Decades digital channel is that it shows a lot of old TV shows that are rarely seen in reruns, or rarely rerun period. It has what it calls its "Binge Weekends", in which a rarely shown TV show's entire run is broadcast throughout the whole weekend in back-to-back episodes. So far, I've seen shows from the dawn of television, such as LIFE WITH ELIZABETH, starring Betty White in her very first TV show (and which she produced) and a sitcom in which she played one-half of a married couple, and I MARRIED JOAN (1952-55) with its now-forgotten star--the actress/comedian Joan Davis, who starred as the crazy wife of a judge (played by future GILLIGAN'S ISLAND cast member Jim Backus--the show basically ended because he and Davis didn't get along---he didn't like playing second banana to her,even though that was his function on the show.) About two weeks ago, Decades did a binge showing of VEGAS, the 1978-1981 crime drama set amongst the backdrop and glamour of the Las Vegas, starring the late Robert Urich,with his handsome self, as a thoughtful private eye named Dan who did security for the casinos, and got into shootouts and fistfights defending himself from criminals who picked the wrong time to try to run up on him and start something. I remember when the show was actually on TV, and its intro theme song, but it wasn't one of my fave shows as a kid---I liked the cool,tough,disco theme song though.
After seeing classic cop shows that I literally hadn't seen since their original airing back in the day like HILL STREET BLUES, which I did grow up watching and liking,and THE COMMISH on the Heroes & Icons digital channel, I wondered why THE ROOKIES, a cop show from the early '70s, and which had the best bad-a** theme song of any TV show from that era (written by Elmer Bernstein and another person) was never shown, and hoped that maybe someone would actually get around to showing it one of these days. Well, guess what got shown as the Decades channel's designated binge-watch show this past weekend? Yep, THE ROOKIES----it was almost as if somehow,my wish to see it had psychically been received and answered by the folks who run Decades,lol. The show ran from 1972-76, and it was about the daily lives of three policemen, two of whom were rookies just starting out on the force, and the problems and cases they had to solve on the job every day, which included adjusting to new ways of dealing with criminals, along with the usual shootouts,car chases, fistfights with thugs and all of that. What made this show unique was that one of the main characters was an African-American rookie named Terry (played by Georg Stanford Brown, who would also become a film/TV director, and make one of Richard Pryor's better films, the 1980 comedy STIR CRAZY) who played a very large part in solving a good number of the cases--he even winds up being kidnapped by some thugs while going undercover to bust a killer at one point. The other two policemen (played by Micheal Ontkean and Sam Melville) worked side by side with him to help solve the cases, and would get involved in separate cases on their own. The show itself was one of the first shows next to POLICE STORY which purported to show a more realistic view of the police and the very real challenges they had on the job. A pre-CHARLIE'S ANGELS Kate Jackson also co-starred on the show as a nurse and the spouse of one of the policemen----she was able to help them with their cases by checking up on criminals who showed up in the hospital, or something close to that. It was interesting to see a young Sissy Spacek (from the original CARRIE) in an early role as a runaway drug addict in one episode, and in another, a veteran-turned-martial-artist (Rafael Campos) winds up being arrested for defending himself against a cop who gets pissed off and literally pulls him out of the car after he's stopped for driving too fast---one of the more memorable episodes. The series is also on DVD,too.
I also wanted to mention THE COMMISH, which I barely watched during its initial run--I was surprised to find out that it actually ran for four seasons (1991-1995) because the way it was advertised back then, I thought it was just some little silly comedy show about a goofy cop or something, so I blew it off. After having watched it for a good few weeks now, I got hooked on it, and I'm starting to think it's definitely one of the more underrated shows of the '90s. It holds up as a surprisingly good and strong show with some slightly offbeat humor about a small-town police commissioner named Tony (Micheal Chiklis, who would go on to play a much more darker and complicated role of a very shady policeman in the even tougher cop drama, THE SHIELD) who is a nice guy who has to come up with different ways to handle his job and the officers who work under him all the time. What's unique about the show Is how it manages to perfectly balance its family-friendly vibe/humor and still be a tough,hard police drama on top of that, and the fact that it dosen't take place in a big city for a change (the setting is a small town in New York--the state, not the city---but the show was actually filmed in Vancouver,British Columbia--where many U.S. shows are filmed to this day.) It also has a good theme song (unlike most shows today, which don't even have theme songs anymore) and it was co-created by writer/producer Stephen J. Cannell, who basically created, produced or co-wrote practically every TV series that was worth watching from THE ROCKFORD FILES,THE A-TEAM, to HUNTER to practically any other show you can think of from the '70s to the late '90s.
Basically, what's appealing about the THE COMMISH is that is has real heart, and some genuine affection for its characters, who come off as real people and not caricatures---in fact, the main character was based on a real-life police commissioner, who advised on a few scripts. The commish's wife, who's also a middle-school teacher, is played by the funny, appealing and spunky Theresa Saldana (I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND,RAGING BULL)----who seemed like she would have been a bigger star if she'd come up during the '40's or '50's ---she had the beautiful looks,the 'tude, the presence,and the comic skills of an actress from that era. I was surprised to find out that she passed away in 2016---she, unfortunately, has been remembered more as the actress who very nearly was murdered by a crazed stalker in real life back in the early '80s, survived, and starred as herself in a 1984 TV film about that horrific experience,titled VICTIMS FOR VICTIMS--the actual name of a support group she started for victims of brutal attacks like herself. Another member of the COMMISH cast, John Cygan, who played one of the commissioner's young lieutenants, also passed away last year due to cancer.
There's also Tony's son (Kaj Erik-Erikson) who learns a few lessons and looks up to his parents,but also has his own mind, and there's Cyd (Melinda McGraw) one of the few female cops on the force, who's tough as nails,but fair to whomever she catches doing wrong, and fun to watch---plus the adorable police officer Stan (Geoffrey Nautts) who's much smarter than he looks. Anyway, the show's on DVD, for anyone who wants it.
Just found this episode of the 1982 cop show spoof POLICE SQUAD!---created by Jim Abrahams and the Zucker brothers, David and Jerry (the trio who created the now-classic 1980 hit disaster film spoof AIRPLANE!) for ABC. It was only six episodes long ( I think it was a summer fill-in show) and had AIRPLANE's Leslie Nielsen starring in in too. Later on in the '80s, Abrahams and the Zuckers would use the same characters, ideas and gags from the show to be recycled in the NAKED GUN movies,starting in 1988 with THE NAKED GUN:FROM THE FILES OF POLICE SQUAD! Here's one crazy episodes from the show----I only caught one episode (not this one,I think) of the show,and I remember seeing it at my step-grandparents house on Detroit's east side (it came on at either 8:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m. on a Friday night) and I also recall the promo ads for it. For some reason I got this confused with those horrible Police Academy films for some reason---they're two completely different animals, thank goodness. Here's one crazy episode of POLICE SQUAD!--the only one I could find on the tube--the complete series is on DVD:
POLICE SQUAD!---brief 1982 comedy series
Here's an interview with Jim Abrahams and the Zucker brothers on on a real early David Letterman show, talking about what inspired them to write/produce AIRPLANE, why they weren't involved in the sequel, and they then talk about and promote their then-new show, POLICE SQUAD! What's interesting (and funny) is that it turns out a then-unknown Letterman himself actually did a test screening for the lead in AIRPLANE a few years before, and didn't get the role, of course:
The AIRPLANE creators interviewed on David Letterman in 1982
POLICE SQUAD! on IMDB