- The Washington Times - Monday, November 6, 2006

Squad’ six-pack

Surely, a show as good as 1982’s “Police Squad!” deserved a better fate than to be yanked after six measly episodes.

“Police Squad!” featured Leslie Nielsen as Det. Frank Drebin fighting crime alongside stoic partner Capt. Ed Hocken (Alan North). But the crimes weren’t the main attraction. What made the show click were the gags stuffed into every episode by the creators, brothers David and Jerry Zucker and Jerry Abrahams (the gag-meisters behind the zany 1980 big-screen feature “Airplane!”).

The new DVD collection, out today and retailing for $19.95, features the full six episodes, commentary from “Sqaud’s!” creators, an interview with Mr. Nielsen and other assorted goodies. Yet for all the bits that work — such as Johnny, the shoeshine guy, dispensing advice and knowledge on any topic if you slip him a five-spot — there are almost as many groaners that will make you grimace and activate the fast-forward button on the remote.

Though “Police Squad!” earned a quick pink slip, it didn’t die. The show created the template for the “Naked Gun” films, a trilogy that continued the misadventures of Frank Drebin. Mr. Nielsen revitalized his career with his droll turn in “Airplane!” and his work here is better than in the subsequent “Gun” features. Here, Mr. Nielsen is drier, magnifying the silly shtick and anchoring it all at once.

The 411 on ‘90210’

TV fans seeking a different sort of guilty pleasure will want to pick up the DVD debut of two series that helped define the 1990s.

The complete first seasons of “Beverly Hills 90210” and “Melrose Place” arrive in stores today. Both series were created by the late, legendary producer Aaron Spelling and Darren Star (the latter went on to create another sexy ensemble show, “Sex and the City,” for HBO).

“Beverly Hills 90210” followed the love lives of a group of wealthy students at West Beverly High School. The show, seen on Fox from 1990 to 2000, helped establish the careers of Luke Perry, Jason Priestley and Mr. Spelling’s daughter, Tori.

“Melrose Place” was a steamy spinoff of “90210” starring Heather Locklear as bad girl Amanda Woodward. Marcia Cross (“Desperate Housewives”), Kristin Davis (“Sex and the City”) and Courtney Thorne-Smith (“Ally McBeal”) also appeared on the series, which ran on Fox from 1992 to 1997.

The six-disc “90210” set and eight-disc “Melrose Place” set, complete with commentaries and features, retail for $61.99 each. The sets are available together in “The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful Pack” for $108.99.

Lucas considers TV

More and more big movie names are getting into the television business.

George Lucas is joining the list.

The “Star Wars” creator says making movies is too risky nowadays because the average cost of shooting and marketing a blockbuster is $200 million. So he’s steering his production company, Lucasfilm, toward TV and low-budget movies, World Entertainment News Network reports, citing a story in Empire magazine.

Mr. Lucas also says he thinks Internet downloading will shake up the film industry. “I don’t think anyone’s going to be in the [moviegoing habit] anymore. Everything is going to be a matter of choice,” he says.

‘The O.C.’ is DOA

Looks like the millions of fans of “The O.C.” were really just fans of Mischa Barton.

The fourth season of the Fox series had a dismal debut Thursday night without Miss Barton — whose character, Marissa Cooper, was killed off last year.

According to Reuters news agency, the series attracted a scant 3.4 million viewers for Thursday’s season premiere, prompting Fox to return it to Wednesday nights. The network also has canceled its new comedy “Happy Hour” and the reality show “The Rich List,” which tanked in its debut last week in Wednesday’s 9 p.m. slot.

This week, Fox will run a double dose of “The O.C.” at 9 p.m. tomorrow and Thursday.

“The O.C.” ran on Wednesdays during its first full season (2003-04), but this time around, has faced tougher competition from ABC’s “Lost” and CBS’ “Criminal Minds.” Still, Fox is banking on “The O.C.” being good counterprogramming to the older-skewing dramas.

Meanwhile, other changes are afoot in the Fox lineup: On Thursday the network will offer the new Brad Garrett comedy, ” ‘Til Death,” at 8 p.m., with a repeat airing at 8:30 p.m. A fresh installment of “The O.C.” follows at 9 p.m.

Compiled by Kelly Jane Torrance and Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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