"Sledge Hammer" is one of those great, lost TV shows with a wonderful cult following. A show that was so inspired, so ahead of it's time, so great, that it was bound to struggle in the ratings and have a short life on television. It's truly one of the great "Cut before their time" shows. Thankfully, the show's rabid fans and cult base have never given up on the show, and it was released on DVD a few years ago. Now, you get this one stop shopping collection right here with the entire 2 seasons and 41 episodes all in one package.
Premiering in 1986, "Sledge Hammer" was a half hour cop show that was obviously a spoof on Dirty Harry. It starred Inspector Sledge Hammer (David rasche), a hard boiled San Francisco cop who loves violence, his gun, getting the chance to shoot or blow up something, and is quite insensitive, rude, and sexist. Oddly enough, he is very llikeable. Go figure. In the premiere episode, he is partnered up with Dori Doreau (Anne-Marie Martin). The series followed the two from one crime to the other, with their captain, Capt. Trunk (Harrison Page) trying to hold his temper and blood pressure from the always dangerous, clueless, and destruction causing Hammer.
Featuring a kick butt theme song by Danny Elfman, this collection is a laugh riot from start to finish. There is a lot of fun in watching Rasche brilliantly bring the gun loving, mayhem causing Hammer to life. You can tell he relishes the role and delivers it all straight, which makes it all the funnier. The premiere episode is titled "Under The Gun", although on the disc it's listed as just "Sledge Hammer!". The debut episode sets it up nicely. We instantly get a sense of who Sledge is, and is quickly partnered with Doreau. In a nod to 'Dirty Harry', the episode features John Vernon as the Mayor, a role he played in the Clint Eastwood classic. This episode deals with Sledge having to rescue the Mayor's kidnapped daughter. I don't need to go into every episode, but other season 1 highlights include "Witless", which is a spoof on the Harrison Ford film 'Witness', where Sledge takes refuge at an Amish settlement. "Dori Day Afternoon" is an obvious take off on the Al Pacino film 'Dog Day Afternoon' where Hammer and Doreau are trapped inside a bank with a couple of robbers. Sledge is followed by a news crew in "Hammer Gets Nailed", and investigates a slate of Elvis impersonator murders in "All Shook Up". Producer/Creator Alan Spencer ended season one pretty abruptly with "The Spa Who Loved Me, thinking it would not be renewed. It was, and the finality of that episode was explained away in a typical TV cliche in the season 2 premiere, "A Clockwork Hammer". Season 2 is just as good, but I will leave it to you to either discover or re-discover the episodes.
Unfortunatley, this collection does not bring over the extras from the previous releases. No commentaries, no featurettes. That's a big disappointment, but the hysterical brilliance of the show is more than enough to make up for it.
In the end, "Sledge Hammer" was a hilarious show that was really too awesome for it's own good. I guess it was just not what the audience could warm up to at the time it originally aired. It's a shame. It is nothing but a huge, gigantic smile from start to finish. Hilariously acted, written, and just a blast. Still, we have the show on DVD, and that is cause for a huge celebration.