B.A.D. CATS ran only six episodes (including this feature-length pilot) on Friday nights before ABC’s quick cancellation in the winter of 1980, and if anyone remembers it today, it’s because of 21-year-old Michelle Pfeiffer’s starring role as a curvy cop named Samantha “Sunshine” Jensen.
Pfeiffer, hot off a turn as “Bombshell” on another shortlived ABC series, DELTA HOUSE, shared star billing with Asher Brauner, familiar to trash movie fans as brooding yet somehow sympathetic hoodlum Dominic in SWITCHBLADE SISTERS, as Los Angeles detective Nick Donovan and Steve “No Relation to Tom” Hanks making his regular television debut as Nick’s partner and roomie Ocee (!) James.
An obvious ripoff of STARSKY & HUTCH (and executive-produced for the same network by STARSKY’s Aaron Spelling), B.A.D. CATS pitted the two male detectives—one blonde and one brunette, natch—of the Burglary Auto Detail, Commercial Auto Thefts squad (!) against various hijackers, terrorists, dope fiends, and auto thieves. Because Nick and Ocee happen to be former racecar drivers, their method of busting crime involves endangering innocent civilians and destroying lots of private property.
The stuntwork is top-notch. A good director, Bernard Kowalski (his credits include the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE pilot), does a great job handling the many car chases (Stunts Unlimited and second unit director Ronnie Rondell receive a big credit), but struggles with the rest of Al Martinez’s pilot teleplay. Charles Cioffi (KLUTE) in a Shatneresque toupee plays Paul Stone, who tries to smuggle $5 million in gold out of the country by forging it into auto parts. GOOD TIMES star Jimmie Walker plays car thief Rodney (the show’s Huggy Bear), SANFORD & SON’s LaWanda Page is rib proprietor Ma, and curly-haired Vic Morrow (COMBAT!) is Captain Nathan, head of the B.A.D. CAT squad.
For the most part, the acting is as poor as the scripting, particularly the stiff Hanks, whose banter with Brauner won’t remind one of Soul and Glaser. Pfieffer (and her original nose) is strictly eye candy who looks terrific in tight shorts (and wears a bikini in the opening titles). Her role consists of answer the squadroom’s phone and being addressed by her fellow officers as “baby” and “sweetie.” She soon did SCARFACE and left television in her rearview mirror.
Producer Everett Chambers later denounced the series publicly and claimed not to list it on his resume. Also with Tom Simcox (CODE R), George Murdock, Nehemiah Persoff, Michael V. Gazzo, Penny Santon, James Hampton (THE LONGEST YARD), and Lance Henriksen (ALIENS) as Cioffi’s number one flunky. Barry DeVorzon (THE WARRIORS) scored it.