Dan Aykroyd must have practiced for months to perfect his Jack Webb inflections for Dragnet. Screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz's directorial debut (also written by Mankiewicz, along with Aykroyd, and Alan Zweibel) is a gentle spoof of the legendary '50s television police drama -- pitting '50s conservatism smack up against the attitudes of the '80s. Basically, the film is another 48 Hours or Beverly Hills Cop clone. Aykroyd stars as Joe Friday, the nephew of the original Friday. But with his brown suit, fedora, and lockjaw, he could just as well be the incarnation of Jack Webb. He is involuntarily assigned a smart alecky, street-wise partner, Pep Streebeck (Tom Hanks), and they are appointed to investigate a series of religious cult murders in L.A. The two cops follow the trail to a phony televangelist, the Reverend Jonathan Whirley (Christopher Plummer). From there, they are only at step away from uncovering an Orange County-based religious cult calling itself P.A.G.A.N. (People Against Goodness and Normalcy). After sneaking into a secret ceremony, Friday falls in love with the sacrificial victim Connie Swail (Alexandra Paul). So much so that even after his superior Captain Gannon (Harry Morgan, reprising his role from the '60s revival of the Dragnet program) orders him off the case, Friday continues on, with the requisite car chases and crashes that usually climax any '80s cop movie or comedy.
by Paul Brenner synopsis