Monday, October 25, 2010

Episode Guide: Broken Badges

Stephen J. Cannell, who died in September at age 69, was one of television’s greatest writer/producers. Shows carrying his credit include THE ROCKFORD FILES, THE A-TEAM, HARDCASTLE & MCCORMICK, ADAM-12, and THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO.

But they weren’t all hits. Several Cannell series you may have never heard of, since they weren’t on the air very long, were released on DVD earlier this year in a box set called PRIME TIME CRIME: THE STEPHEN J. CANNELL COLLECTION. Included are all seven episodes of BROKEN BADGES, a series Cannell co-created with Randall Wallace, who went from this series to earning an Oscar nomination for penning the BRAVEHEART screenplay.

BROKEN BADGES fits nicely into the Cannell oeuvre with its theme of outsiders and misfits fighting crime and forming a tight family unit. Miguel Ferrer, just off a memorable role on TWIN PEAKS, starred as Beau Jack Bowman, a maverick New Orleans cop in trouble with his bosses after he drove a garbage truck through a house in pursuit of drug dealers. To get him out of their hair, the brass send Beau Jack to Bay City, California to extradite a prisoner and ends up joining a trio of mentally unstable detectives to capture a murderer.

Since no one wants to work with the three officers, all of whom have personality disorders that put them on the department’s restricted list, Bowman decides to stay in Bay City and work with them as part of a special squad. His new partners are Stanley Jones (Jay Johnson), a short ventriloquist (with a dummy dressed as a policeman) who becomes violent whenever anyone mentions his size; Toby Baker (Ernie Hudson), a depressed kleptomaniac; and J.J. “Bullets” Tingreedies (Eileen Davidson), an aggressive woman who’s addicted to danger. Also on the team is Dr. Priscilla Mather (Charlotte Lewis), a police psychiatrist whose job is to keep Bowman’s team out of trouble. Good luck.

BROKEN BADGES was not on CBS’ 1990-91 fall schedule, but was pressed into service when its eco-action series E.A.R.T.H. FORCE with Gil Gerard crumbled after just three weeks on the air. The network had no better luck with Cannell and Wallace’s series, which was quickly canceled after only four episodes (the same day as WISEGUY, another Cannell series). The remaining three shows were burned off by CBS the following June.

It’s no surprise BROKEN BADGES was a bust, as it never found the correct balance of humor and action. Ferrer and Hudson are really good, but Davidson forces the tough-chick stuff and standup comic Johnson (SOAP) is too silly to pull the cop stuff off. Another point in the series’ favor is its rollicking Cajun-flavored theme song penned by Mike Post.

Miguel Ferrer as Beau Jack Bowman
Eileen Davidson as Judith J. “Bullet” Tingreedies
Jay Johnson as Stanley Jones
Teresa Donahoe as Dr. Eleanor Hardwick (pilot only)
Charlotte Lewis as Priscilla Mather
Ernie Hudson as Toby Baker

Music: Mike Post, Velton Ray Bunch
Theme: Mike Post
Cinematographers: Cyrus Block, John S. Bartley
Art Directors: Graeme Murray (pilot only), Stephen Geaghan
Editors: Larry D. Lester (pilot only), Argyle Coe Nelson, Casey O’Rohrs (pilot only), Ron Spang, Albert J.J. Zuniga
Associate Producers: Bruce Golin, Alan Cassidy, Gary Skeen Hall
Supervising Producer: Jo Swerling Jr.
Co-Supervising Producer: Jack Bernstein
Producer: John Peter Kousakis (pilot only)
Producer: Joan Carson
Creator: Stephen J. Cannell & Randall Wallace
Executive Producers: Stephen J. Cannell & Randall Wallace
A Stephen J. Cannell Production
Filmed on location in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

“Pilot” (2 hours)
November 24, 1990
Writer: Stephen J. Cannell & Randall Wallace
Director: Kim Manners
Guest Cast: Ada Maris, Carlos Gomez, Tobin Bell, Richard Riehle, Forry Smith, Don S. Davis, Michael MacRae, Ismael (East) Carlo, Tim Neil, Gary Chalk, Leslie Carlson, Gerry Bean, Rosanna Iverson, Jessica Marlowe, Rob Roy, R. Nelson Brown, John Cuthbert, Adrien Dorval, Terry Barclay, Dwight Koss, Michael Rogers, Howard Kruschke, Richard Sargent, Rob Johnson, Barbara Constantine, Phil Hayes, Michael Tiernan, Peter Bibby, Maureen Wilson, Pat Bermel, Kehli O’Byrne, Michael A. Jackson, Mitch Kosterman, Allan Lysell, Rosanne Hopkins

Bowman extradites prisoner Frank Cardenas (Carlos Gomez) from New Orleans to Bay City to stand trial for the murder of his parents. He believes businessman Martin Valentine (Tobin Bell) framed the young man, but when the Bay City cops refuse the listen to Bowman, he recruits Bullet, Jones, and Baker to find proof of Frank’s innocence.

December 22, 1990
Writer: Stephen J. Cannell
Director: Kim Manners
Guest Cast: Don S. Davis, Diedrich Bader, Clint Carmichael, Garry Chalk, Alec Burden, Lyle Alzado, Robin Smith, Steve Oatway, Roger Crossley, Veronica Lorenz, John Tierney, Marcy Mellish, Lana Higgins, William MacDonald, Steve Adams, Sharlene Martin, Graeme Kingston, Bruce Corkum

When Toby is accused of murdering hood Tommy Moran (Lyle Alzado), Bullets goes undercover as a hostess at Moran’s club and Stanley befriends Tommy’s naïve son Chucky (Diedrich Bader) to find the real killer.

“Westside Stories”
December 1, 1990
Writer: Jack Bernstein
Director: James Whitmore Jr.
Guest Cast: David Naughton, Don S. Davis, Heidi Zeigler, Mary Jo Keenen, Peter Blackwood, Merrilyn Gann, Rebecca Toolan, Sandra Carpenter, Georgie Major, Paul Haddad

Our crazy cops infiltrate a hoity-toity country club to catch a cat burglar (David Naughton) who accidentally killed a man on his last job.

“Can I Get a Witness?”
June 20, 1991
Writer: Jack Bernstein
Director: David Nutter
Guest Cast: Andrew Hill Newman, Anne Betancourt, Don S. Davis, Jerry Wasserman, Jason Scott, Frank Ferrucci, Suki Kaiser, Jack Ammon, Dwight McFee, Lon Katzmann, Brent Chapman, Donna Carroll White, Pedro Salvin, Ahnee Boyce, Lenno Britos

Bowman and the team are assigned to transport a government witness, nerdy accountant Max (Andrew Hill Newman), back to Bay City, but a hit squad hired by Max’s druglord boss (Anne Betancourt) is right on their tail.

“Meet Your Matchmaker”
June 6, 1991
Writer: Jack Bernstein
Director: Tucker Gates
Guest Cast: Brian L. Green, Forry Smith, Garry Chalk, Paul Boretski, Tamsin Kelley, French Tickner, Larry Hill, Ellie Harvie, Glynis Davies, Norman Armour, Deryl Hayes, Terry Arrowsmith

Stanley joins a video dating service to smoke out a serial killer who’s bumping off the company’s clients.

December 8, 1990
Writer: Randall Wallace
Director: Jonathan Sanger
Guest Cast: Jamie Rose, Tim Neil, Jay Brazeau, Andrew Johnston, Brent Stait, Howard Jerome, Sharlene Martin, Claudio de Victor, Ken Budd, Alex Taylor, Celia Louise Martin

Beau Jack’s old partner (Tim Neil) arrives in Bay City, and warns the squad that Beau Jack may be the target of a sexy ex-cop (Jamie Rose) he sent to prison back in New Orleans.

“Argo the Venusian”
June 13, 1991
Writer: Randall Wallace
Director: Alan Cooke
Guest Cast: Forry Smith, Garry Chalk, Jano Frandsen, Elena Stiteler, James Kidnie, Sam Malkin, Andre Daniels, Terry King, Douglas Stewart

Beau Jack and the team come to the aid of a fellow cop (Forry Smith) who is accused of killing his secret girlfriend’s husband, a noted mobster.

See BROKEN BADGES' opening title sequence with Mike Post's cool Cajun theme song, which leads off this collection of TV themes from 1991:

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