Eighteen months ago, CBS found a long-lost Christmas episode of "I Love Lucy" deep down in the vaults of TV series long past and put it on the air. The ratings went through the roof. Then last year the missing pilot of the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz series resurfaced after 40 years and became the No. 1 show of the week when CBS telecast it.
In February, CBS struck ratings gold again when it offered retrospectives of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "All in the Family" and "The Ed Sullivan Show." And this summer, already seen episodes of "All in the Family" are far outranking "Sunday Dinner," the new sitcom from "Family" producer Norman Lear.
Something old is new again this week, as CBS is dusting off a TV series that lasted only six episodes when it premiered on ABC in 1982, yet spawned two hit films.
The short-lived show was the wild "Police Squad!," the inspiration for "The Naked Gun" and this summer's comedy hit "The Naked Gun 2 1/2."
Leslie Nielsen, of course, stars in "Police Squad!" as the straight-faced goofball Det. Frank Drebin, assigned to right wrongs in a "large American city."
Created and produced by David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams, the threesome behind "Airplane!," the series is filled with rapid-fire sight gags and deadly funny dialogue. Every week, the series opened with a guest star--such as William Shatner and Lorne Greene--who was promptly killed off during the credits. Alan North co-starred as Drebin's boss, Capt. Ed Hocken. The series, which is available on Paramount Home Video, also attracted such behind-the-scenes talent as film director Joe Dante ("Gremlins").
Retro's favorite episode (airing Aug. 28): Drebin goes undercover as a comedian in a night club and becomes the hottest commodity since Jay Leno.
"Police Squad!" never caught on during its initial run. It was up against then red-hot "Magnum, P.I.," and unlike most TV comedies, viewers must concentrate while watching "Police Squad!" or they miss most of the jokes.
Retro also is quite literally rocking this week, thanks to the Disney Channel.
The fun begins tonight with the return of the best episodes of the 1960s British TV series "Ready Steady Go!" A kissing cousin to our "American Bandstand," the black-and-white series features early performances by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Eric Burdon and the Animals. "Ready Steady Go!" will air every Sunday through Sept. 29. Guests include the Beatles and Rolling Stones, plus the Who, the Dave Clark 5, Manfred Mann, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Marvin Gaye and Dusty Springfield. Dave Clark, who owns the rights to the series, also is the host.
Disney also will be rolling out special editions of "Ready Steady Go!" Tonight, the Beatles perform "Twist and Shout," "Roll Over Beethoven," "She Loves You" and "Shout" in a 30-minute concert from 1964. Next Sunday, Mick Jagger and Co. gather no moss in a 1965 special. The bad boys of rock perform "Under My Thumb," "Paint It Black" and "Satisfaction."
And on Aug. 4, Otis "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" Redding headlines and wails "Respect" and "Land of a Thousand Dances" and croons "My Girl," with Eric Burdon and the Animals.
Disney's classic rock 'n' roll summer also features the documentaries "Rock and Roll: The Early Days" (July 30, Aug. 5, 21), narrated by John Heard, and "British Rock: The First Wave" (Aug. 11, 19, 27), hosted by Michael York.
"Hold On, It's the Dave Clark Five" (Aug. 18, 26) is a '60s musical special, and Michael Douglas hosts "A Tribute to John Lennon" (Aug. 25, 30), an all-star tribute to the late Beatle.
"Police Squad" airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBS.
"The Beatles Live" airs tonight at 9 on the Disney Channel; "Ready Steady Go" airs at 9:30 p.m.