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June 1, 2021

Static Age #16: Police Squad! (1982)

Leslie Nielsen as Frank Drebin in Police Squad! (1982)

This Static Age’s spotlight goes to Police Squad! (1982), starring (the previously serious actor) Leslie Nielsen as the buffoon detective Frank Drebin, assigned to several cases that he solves with plenty of weirdness. This police procedure drama satire proved so popular that an entire film franchise ensued (this will also be covered, in a future installment of A Binge too Far) and indeed the series had me laughing so hard that my belly was hurting. ‘A Substantial Gift (The Broken Promise)’ has Sally (Kathryn Leigh Scott) shooting two men dead at point blank, but as she tells the police a different story, it is now up to Frank to crack the case. ‘Ring of Fear’ (A Dangerous Assignment)’ directed by Joe Dante finds Frank against wise guys that fix boxing games. ‘The Butler Did It (A Bird in the Hand)’ is about a mysterious kidnapping. ‘Revenge and Remorse (The Guilty Alibi)’ is about a series of bombings. ‘Rendezvous at Big Gulch (Terror in the Neighborhood)’ is about a crime organization that is bullying small business owners. ‘Testimony of Evil (Dead Men Don’t Laugh)’ directed by Joe Dante and starring Dick Miller finds Drebin trying to tackle a drug-pushing operation.


And now, let’s switch our focus towards some recent series…


Penny Dreadful - Season 2
The 2st season of Penny Dreadful (2014 – 2016) provides us with further adventures of the supernatural kind for the dark team that consists of explorer Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton), gun expert Ethan Chandler (the show’s American casting touch Josh Hartnett), Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway), and medium Vanessa Ives (Eva Green). Aside from the eerie material (however chaotic the mix-up of so many legendary characters), the series also provide some very interesting thoughts on homosexuality and acceptance, as well as feminism and religion. In particular, the mid-season romance arc between Dorian Grey (Reeve Carney) and beautiful transvestite Angelique (Jonny Beauchamp) is a bold queer statement in itself. Featuring imagery so disturbing that in the 1980s wouldn’t attract the star cast that it did nowadays, this proves how much times have changed and it comes highly recommended.


The 3rd season of Fargo (2014 – present), created by Noah Hawley, is about two brothers (both played by this installment’s star Ewan McGregor), one a rich businessman and the other a poor parole officer in love with a gorgeous hooker (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), they both get involved with the wrong people and have to deal with local organized crime’s goons. What we get once again is Cohen brothers aesthetics in the snow and a perfect blend of grimness and humor (very David Lynch-like). Some subplots seem to be going nowhere (one could only get away with such ambiguities in post-2000 television), yet they are all somewhat connected.


The 2nd season of Marvel’s Luke Cage (2016 – 2018) finds the titular superhero (Mike Colter) enjoying the acceptance of the Black community that he gained the last time around, going as far as having his own app, and occasionally roughing up bad guys in Harlem that has become really easy on him. That is until he finds his equal in the form of Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir), a villain so ruthless that he goes as far as to behead his enemies. This final season suffers from a slow start, but it picks up later when it becomes a gang war epic.


And now, please allow me to speak a word or two about a recent mainstream film…


Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)
Warner Bros.’ Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) directed by Adam Wingard finds the two titular mega-monsters fighting against each other due to a conspiracy generated by an evil corporation, but as the battle ensues several more monsters enter the picture, and believe me, this is a big picture; made on an estimated $200 million budget this could be nothing less. A spectacle like no other with breathtaking action scenes and spectacular CGI, it succeeds because it also respectful of the spirit of Toho’s kaiju classics. Do not miss it.


And finally, I enriched my bookshelf with the following additions: Sheridan Le Fanu’s influential lesbian vampire classic Carmilla (1872); Thomas De Quincey’s intense drugs and philosophy apotheosis Confessions of an English Opium-Eater and Other Writings (2013, Oxford University Press); and Matt Ruff’s excellent road story of real and unreal terrors Lovecraft Country (2018, Picador).

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