Picks and Pans Review: Tequila and Bonetti

updated 02/17/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/17/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

CBS (Fridays, 9 P.M. ET)

D+

What do you get when you put a likable cast in a ludicrous premise? A show that you hate yourself for watching. Series vagabond Jack Scalia plays Nico Bonetti, an Italian cop from Brooklyn transplanted to a flaky beach precinct in California. He's teamed with a uniformed rookie (Mariska Hargitay, the daughter of bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay and bombshell Jayne Mansfield) and a French mastiff named Tequila (playing himself).

The gimmick? We can hear the dog's every thought. The mutt's stale street jive ("Get down with your bad self, home slice") is provided by Brad Sanders, the guy who, as Clarence, does a daily plot update of The Young and the Restless on the radio. Rounding out the cast is Saturday Night Live alum Charles Rocket as the police captain, a smoothie with an earring and a subscription to Variety.

The show wouldn't be so painful to watch if the criminal cases assigned to this crew weren't so inane and if the writers didn't have to work so hard to get Tequila involved in solving them.

Each episode, though, does contain little grace moments when the camera observes the characters being themselves alone. We see Bonetti moodily playing the piano, Rocket sweating over a screenplay and Rodney Kageyama, who has a recurring role as a Japanese gardener, dancing ecstatically in drag. These unexpected vignettes, presented like music videos, suggest a creativity utterly lacking in the rest of the hour.

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