Friday, April 13, 2012

Nostalgia Theater:
Police Academy Gets Animated

Perhaps more than most others, Police Academy is a perfect example of a franchise that found some small bit of traction and just held on for dear life. Debuting in 1984 as part of the trend of R-rated comedies centering on wacky misfits taking on the establishment, the first Police Academy film starred Steve Guttenberg, Michael Winslow, and host of unknowns (including a pre-Sex & The City Kim Cattrall). It took a dash of Stripes, a hint of Porky's, and voilà, instant underdog hit. Here's an assortment of "funny" scenes from that first movie. And yes, there's a reason that "funny" is in quotes.

What you see there is pretty much what you got. Wacky cop cadets. Wacky hijinks. That's it. That's the premise. And yet, amazingly enough, the animal magnetism of comely cad Steve Guttenberg apparently found enough of a receptive chord with '80s auds that it led to Police Academy sequels being pumped out every year between 1985 and 1989 (though even Guttenberg bowed out after awhile). That's a total of six movies before the decade was even out, each more watered down than the next as they went from R to PG-13 to PG to, finally, this:

Yep, a Police Academy cartoon show. I can practically envision the awkward conversations that ensued as kids who enjoyed the 'toon every weekday morning would seek out the first movie, then ask their parents to explain the racist humor, rampant sexuality, and, oh yeah, the stuff about the gay biker bar. The animated Police Academy ran for two seasons in syndication between 1988 and 1989, with sixty-four episodes produced. It also spawned its own brief flurry of licensing, including a Marvel comic book (see cover above) and the requisite action figure line from Kenner:

Those were real. In fact, I'm pretty sure I even owned one or two. By the time the '90s rolled around, it was as if society awoke from a collective daze, and that was effectively the end for Police Academy as an omnipresent pop culture force. A straight-to-video seventh movie flopped hard in 1994, and a short-lived live action series (also in syndication) came and went in 1997-'98. While there have been rumors for more than a decade now of a franchise revival by way of another sequel, or even a ground-up reboot, nothing has materialized as of yet.

And yeah, that's probably a good thing.

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