When Angie Tribeca was greenlit last May, it was promoted as “a hilarious spoof of police procedurals in the spirit of The Naked Gun.” But what Turner exec Michael Wright forgot when he made that statement was that the Naked Gun films were actually spun off from a short-lived ABC series called Police Squad!
For six beautiful episodes in 1982, Police Squad! pointed and laughed at the crime procedural. From the producers of Airplane!, the series starred Leslie Nielsen as Sergeant Frank Drebin, whose title was “Detective Lieutenant Police Squad.” That complete lack of sense basically told audiences how much off the wall humor they were in for.
Full of wordplay, sight gags, non sequiturs and running jokes (like killing off a high-profile “special guest star” in the middle of the title sequence), the show still stands as one of the funniest TV series ever made. For those of you who weren’t born in 1982, I turn to YouTube to dig up the classic intro:
Now 34 years later, we’ve got Angie Tribeca. If TBS really wants this to follow in the footsteps of Police Squad! the bar has been set high indeed, but the series has potential to at least be a spiritual successor.
Rashida Jones is obviously not Leslie Nielsen, but she just spent a few years working on her comedic chops as Ann Traeger on NBC’s Parks & Recreation, and well before that she actually did a bang-up job playing a serious law enforcement officer as Detective Carla Merced on TNT’s Wanted. (Look it up; it was a fantastically underrated show.)
Her partner, Hayes MacArthur, has a habit of appearing in the most short-lived comedies. He’s starred in Worst Week (five episodes), Perfect Couples (one season) and Go On (one season), so at this point, you figure he’s got to be due. Deon Cole just moved sideways after TBS cancelled his sketch show.
The sleeper pick is Jere Burns, who plays Angie’s straight-laced boss Lt. Pritikin Atkins. Burns will be Wynn Duffy on FX’s Justified to a lot of people, but he actually had his early leading roles in the comedies Dear John and Something So Right. The man knows how to get a laugh.
And for crying out loud, the show has a dog driving a car.
Angie Tribeca has mastered the nonsensical part of Police Squad! and it seems like it’s got a good cast. But what it hasn’t demonstrated in its gag-filled commercials is cohesiveness. What made the earlier series so classic was that it wasn’t just a bunch of random bits thrown into a blender; it actually knew how to put together a story, albeit a crazy one.
It remains to be seen if TBS has created a series that also happens to be funny, or has come up with funny jokes it’s trying to stretch into a series. We’ll find out when the network unleashes Angie this Sunday, dropping all ten episodes in a Netflix-style binge starting at 9 p.m. Hopefully, she’ll be as good as her predecessor.
Although honestly, if cop show parodies are your thing, I’m still upset about The Good Guys. Bradley Whitford rocked that mustache.