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Sledge Hammer!

Sledge Hammer! is a television satirical sitcom that ran for two seasons on ABC from 1986 to 1988. The series was created by Alan Spencer and starred David Rasche and a .44 Magnum. Despite its brief run, it has gained a cult following.

Sledge Hammer! was a Get Smart-like spoof of the Dirty Harry series of movies. Its main character, Inspector Sledge Hammer of the San Francisco Police Department, was a violent, sadistic, insensitive detective who talked to his gun. Spencer's original script for the series was written after the third Dirty Harry film, The Enforcer, was released in 1976 but was widely rejected. However, eight years later, after the release of the fourth movie, Sudden Impact, in 1983, demand for a "renegade cop" parody began and ABC produced a pilot episode of Sledge Hammer! after HBO rejected Spencer's pilot script.

Sledge Hammer's motto is:

    "Trust me. I know what I'm doing."

Beside Hammer, the main characters are his partner, Detective Dori Doreau (played by Anne-Marie Martin), who is sensitive, intelligent and female (everything Sledge is not) and his migraine-suffering superior, Captain Trunk (played by Harrison Page). The theme music was written by Danny Elfman. Coincidentally, the pilot of Sledge Hammer! was completed at the same time as Peter Gabriel's song "Sledgehammer" became a hit.

Marvel Comics also released a short-lived comic book based upon the series.

Sledge Hammer poked fun at many other TV series and had a well-publicized "feud" with the contemporary sitcom, Mr. Belvedere. The show's own network wasn't spared either. One episode ended with an epilogue that was intentionally miscolored as a parody of the then-popular colorization trend; ABC received so many complaints from viewers thinking it was a transmission error that for a time callers to ABC's switchboard heard a recorded message explaining that it was all a joke.

Because ABC intended to cancel the series, the last episode of the first season ended with an atomic bomb destroying the city. When ABC unexpectedly renewed the show -- due to the network moving the show to a better time that improved ratings for the final episode -- the first episode of the second season explained that it and following episodes were set "five years before" the explosion. However, the second season suffered from a reduced budget and lowered filming standard (down to 16 mm film from the previous season's 35 mm), and was not renewed for a third season.

The first season of Sledge Hammer! was released on DVD in 2004, on which the laugh track, which the network had insisted on including on the pilot and first 12 episodes, has been removed. The DVD also includes an unaired version of the pilot that runs several minutes longer, has a different ending, and different theme music. An earthquake allegedly hit while Alan Spencer was recording commentary for one of the DVDs; the tape supposedly kept rolling during the event and was included on the DVD, leaving viewers wondering whether the earthquake was real. The second season was released on DVD on April 12, 2005; the commentary on the final episode ended with Spencer, again, being caught in an apparent earthquake.

Episode List

Season 1 (1986-87)

   1. Under The Gun (Pilot) (Sep 23, 1986)
   2. Hammer Gets Nailed (Sep 26, 1986)
   3. Witless (Oct 3, 1986)
   4. They Shoot Hammers, Don't They? (Oct 17, 1986)
   5. Dori Day Afternoon (Oct 24, 1986)
   6. To Sledge, with Love (Oct 31, 1986)
   7. All Shook Up (Nov 6, 1986)
   8. Over My Dead Bodyguard (Nov 13, 1986)
   9. Magnum Farce (Nov 22, 1986)
  10. If I Had a Little Hammer (Nov 29, 1986)
  11. To Live and Die on TV (Dec 13, 1986)
  12. Miss of the Spider Woman (Dec 20, 1986)
  13. The Old Man and the Sledge (Jan 3, 1987)
  14. State of Sledge (Jan 10, 1987)
  15. Haven't Gun, Will Travel (Jan 17, 1987)
  16. The Color of Hammer (Jan 24, 1987)
  17. Brother, Can You Spare a Crime? (Jan 31, 1987)
  18. Desperately Seeking Dori (Feb 7, 1987)
  19. Sledgepoo (Feb 14, 1987)
  20. Comrade Hammer (Feb 21, 1987)
  21. Jagged Sledge (Apr 21, 1987)
  22. The Spa Who Loved Me (Apr 28, 1987)

Season 2 (1987-1988)

   1. A Clockwork Hammer (Sep 17, 1987)
   2. Big Nazi on Campus (Sep 24, 1987)
   3. Play It Again, Sledge (Oct 1, 1987)
   4. Wild About Hammer (Oct 8, 1987)
   5. The Death of a Few Salesmen (Oct 15, 1987)
   6. Vertical (Oct 29, 1987)
   7. Dressed to Call (Nov 5, 1987)
   8. Hammer Hits the Rock (a.k.a. Sledge on the Rock) (Nov 12, 1987)
   9. Hammeroid (Nov 26, 1987)
  10. Last of the Red Hot Vampires (Nov 19, 1987)
  11. Sledge in Toyland (Dec 3, 1987)
  12. Icebreaker (Dec 10, 1987)
  13. They Call Me Mr. Trunk (Dec 17, 1987)
  14. Model Dearest (Jan 7, 1988)
  15. Sledge, Rattle & Roll (Jan 15, 1988)
  16. Suppose They Gave a War & Sledge Came? (Jan 22, 1988)
  17. The Secret of My Excess (Jan 29, 1988)
  18. It Happened What Night? (Feb 5, 1988)
  19. Here's to You, Mrs. Hammer (Feb 12, 1988)


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