Set in the near future of 1991, it’s been three years since the landing of an actual flying saucer landed on Earth, containing a species of aliens (dubbed “Newcomers”) who had been genetically engineered as slave laborers. The Newcomers are smarter and physically stronger than their human counterparts, which makes them more suitable to perform certain jobs, and the backlash against them from the human population is escalating daily. In this environment, Detective Sergeant Matt Sykes (James Caan) has his partner killed by one of the alien “slags”, making it his mission to take down the ones responsible. He voluntarily requests to be partnered with the first Newcomer police detective, Sam Francisco (Mandy Patinkin) – Sykes calls him “George” instead, and while they haven’t been specifically assigned the homicide case, Sykes won’t stay off of it, employing Sam’s help as needed in order to get to the bottom of the underworld slag crime syndicate. Directed by Graham Baker from a script by Rockne S. O’Bannon and an uncredited James Cameron.
In this semi-spoof sequel to the classic TV show, “Dragnet”, Dan Aykroyd isn’t playing Jack Webb’s character, Joe Friday, in this film, but rather, his nephew, with the same name and personality. He’s assigned a roguish new partner named Pep Streebeck (Tom Hanks) with which to fight crime with, though he’s of a new breed of a police officer, not really respecting the rule of law that Sergeant Friday does to his core.
Their first case together sees them trying to crack a slew of recent murders in Los Angeles, ostensibly done by a mysterious cult known simply as P.A.G.A.N., (People Against Goodness and Normalcy) as the calling cars they leave behind at the scenes of their crimes suggest. Signs begin to point in the direction of a smarmy TV evangelist named Rev. Jonathan Whirley (Christopher Plummer) and a smarmy smut merchant named Jerry Caesar (Dabney Coleman). Friday and Streebeck rescue a sacrificial virgin, Connie Swail (Alexandra Paul), at one of the P.A.G.A.N. gatherings, and for the first time in his life, Sgt. Friday has found someone wholesome enough to consider as his girlfriend, though he has now become too involved to think clearly — or play things by the book when the heart is involved.
The comedy writing team of Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and David Zucker brought this first of a trilogy, based on their short-lived 1982 TV show “Police Squad”, of zany screwball comedies to Hollywood in 1988, offering plenty of sight gags, plays on words, pop culture sendups, and downright silly slapstick. Leslie Nielsen returns to star as Lt. Frank Drebin, who seems to have a high success rate in closing his cases despite being an overconfident buffoon. His latest case involves trying to prevent the assassination of Queen Elizabeth II while on a visit to America. A hunch leads Drebin to look into wealthy philanthropist Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalban), who Frank thinks is also a scam artist. Drebin ends up falling for Ludwig’s beautiful but klutzy assistant, Jane Spencer (Priscilla Presley). George Kennedy and O.J. Simpson also appear.