Netflix came through with a surprise today. Even though we only have two movies left before the end of our current month, at which point we're canceling, one of the discs previously thought lost appeared in our mailbox today. So now I'm four episodes into the first disc of Sledge Hammer! Season One.
When I saw that this forgotten show had amazingly made it to DVD, I realized two things: One, they really will release just about anything on DVD these days, and two, I had to see it.
Sledge Hammer! is the largely forgotten cop show spoof about an ultraviolent cop who talks to his gun. This is the show with the infamous "Sledge blows up the city" season-ending cliffhanger, where the writers wrote themselves into a corner expecting the series to be cancelled. As I first heard from Zack in a long-ago Squelch editorial meeting, the next season was Sledge Hammer! The Early Years and took place five years prior.
For the DVD release, the laugh track has been removed, and the show seems stronger for it. It's hard to imagine this parody working well with canned laughs everywhere.
Sadly, the show itself has not aged well. Seeing it now, it looks appallingly low budget, and the jokes are delivered with corny, highly telegraphed setup/payoff timing that makes it hard to be surprised by any of the punchlines. There are some great--okay, good--moments, and credits show such names as Leonard Stern, going back to Get Smart, and Al Jean, going ahead to The Simpsons, but nothing matches the genius of those shows. It seems like Sledge Hammer! was a show with a lot of funny, even clever ideas, but they're never fully realized in the execution. Or if they were, their impact has been dampened by time and the changes in TV comedy.
I loved it when I was six, but it's a little tiring to watch now. I've got two episodes left, though, and the series does seem to be improving as it finds its groove. But it doesn't look like it will ever hit the heights that I remembered.