Today in 1982, the premiere of a TV show that only lasted a handful of episodes but ended up having an extremely long life anyway: the cop spoof Police Squad!, a show TV executives said was essentially too funny to stay on the air.

Police Squad! came from the same team that had made the movie Airplane!

That film took the premise of a very serious movie from the 50s, Zero Hour, and then added slapstick, puns, sight gags and wacky cameos that both audiences and critics loved.

For their next project, they decided to parody an old police procedural show called M Squad, starring Lee Marvin.

But instead of turning the idea into a film, they got media bigwig Michael Eisner to pitch it to ABC as a series.

Police Squad! used the same comedy-around-every-corner approach that had worked so well in Airplane!

The opening credits included big-name guest stars, who only appeared as victims.

The episodes ended with freeze frames, by which I mean the actors had to stand there and pretend to be frozen for 30 seconds.

At the center of it all was veteran actor Leslie Nielsen, the breakout star of Airplane! who was cast as the charismatically clueless detective Frank Drebin.

In one episode he tells a widow that the police “would have come earlier, but your husband wasn’t dead then.”

Critics gave the show high ratings, but the actual TV ratings were relatively low.

That might have been a moment where the network decided to give the show more time to find its audience, but after just four episodes ABC pulled the plug.

Police Squad! wasn’t the only show to get that treatment, but the reason behind the decision was pretty unusual.

The network’s head of entertainment said, “the viewer had to watch it in order to appreciate it.”

In other words, he was praising the show for being too fast-paced, too complex and, really, too good for the audience to appreciate (which is also a slam on the audience).

TV Guide called this “the most stupid reason a network ever gave for ending a series.”

The producers eventually had the last laugh.

A few years after the show was canceled, they decided to do a movie version, in which Detective Drebin has to foil a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II.

“The Naked Gun: From The Files Of Police Squad!” was maybe even more fast-paced and complex than the TV version.

And this time it won over critics and audiences.

Today in 1837 Chicago officially became a city.

Which is my fairly flimsy reason to point you toward a video from 1939, in which four brothers from Chicago, the Steinlaufs, started showing off some very unusual bicycles they’d created.

One of them was made out of a sewing machine!

‘The Naked Gun’ Spun Off From an Even Wackier TV Show (Collider)

4 Chicago Brothers Showed Off Their Strangest Bike Creations In 1939 (Chicagoist)

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