Before Lethal Weapon gave us the buddy cop genre of movies there was Sledge Hammer! on TV. This show is getting into the later 80’s and to be honest I probably originally watched this as re-runs in the early 90’s. But nevertheless the absurd violence solves everything character of Sledge Hammer is entertaining at any age.
What I love about this show is that you will either hate it or love it within the first 5 minutes of the pilot episode. When I was re-watching this again I sat down and did with my younger brother who had never seen it. When Inspector Sledge Hammer pulls a bazooka out of his trunk to blow up a building to get rid of a sniper my brother laughed out loud at the ridiculousness.
Sledge Hammer is the actual name of the main character who is played wonderfully by David Rasche. His motto is, “Trust me, I know what I’m doing.” And his best friend (love?) is a .44 Magnum which he talks to all the time. The opening credits are of the Magnum laying on a white pillow as the camera slowly runs up her ‘leg’ which has a Sledge Hammer printed on it.
Hammer’s boss is Captain Trunk played by Harrison Page. He is always on the verge of a migraine and having to drink Pepto-Bismol because of Hammer’s antics. The constant yelling of, “Hammer!”, throughout the series reminds me of the Captain in Lethal Weapon.
This is a 30 minute show with a fun history. It was written by Alan Spencer as a screenplay when he was just a teenager. Not only did every network reject it but people questioned his mental health due to the over exaggerated violence. At one point HBO was looking for a police show similar to the screenplay Alan had written. He re-wrote the idea into a half hour format but HBO execs didn’t like it and wanted to make changes beyond what Alan liked. Things with HBO did not work out. But ABC was willing to take a chance on this crazy script. With of course a few changes.
Tone down the violence a bit. And add a laugh track.
Alan voiced his opinion on the laugh track and found it insulting. But when ABC agreed to casting David Rasche as the lead a deal was made and Sledge Hammer! had it’s first season in 1986.
To be brutally honest once you’ve watched the first episode you will get the drift of the whole show. Watching shows like this back to back (binge watching) somewhat ruins it for you. Watching this week to week would have been entertaining and a great half an hour to laugh at. Binge watching it though you see just how similar every episode is. So if you do watch; just watch one at a time.
I’m sure people were surprised to see the show last. In fact the back of the Season 2 DVD even says those exact words, “..in the surprising (because no one expected the network to renew it) second season..”.
Here is my favorite part of Season 1 though. The season finale and why I’m sure the writers did not expect it to be picked up for a 2nd Season. Sledge Hammer blows up the entire city.
Yes the entire city.
With a nuclear weapon.
So if you need over the top 1980’s violence (no one really dies) and an over the top ridiculous to the point of comedy officer of the law. This is your show.
Trust me. I know what I’m doing.
[Sledge Hammer! is available on Hulu as of this writing]