Ask Cool Daddy & He Will Answer
Dear Cool Daddy: I have recollections of a TV show on briefly in the 1990s about a cop with a ventriloquist dummy…I figured if anybody would remember, you would. Can you fill me in? …from Sarge in Siler City NC
Dear Sarge: Sure…I practically live for it. You know, there have been shows with long runs…Hawaii 5-0, Gunsmoke, Happy Days, Dallas…that are fondly remembered and rightly so. But there are other shows that came and went almost literally in the blink of an eye…but they too stick in people’s minds. The one you’re thinking of was called Broken Badges (intro here). It flashed briefly on the screen back in 1990, a Stephen J. Cannell creation. He had many smash hits, like Rockford Files, Baretta, A-Team, Hardcastle and McCormick…but plenty of flops too, and this was one.
It was ahead of its time…the idea of cops who were also mentally ill, but not in the kinder, gentler fuzzy/huggy sense of say a Monk. These guys were bonkers. Above, clockwise from top left…Miguel Ferrer as Beau Jack Bowman, a rule-breaking Cajun cop transplanted to California, and given command of 3 maniacs…Ernie Hudson as the depressed kleptomaniac…Jay Johnson (with Bob) as the violent ventriloquist…Charlotte Lewis as their shrink…and Eileen Davidson as a suicidal danger junkie. Needless to say, this was a tongue-in-cheek adventure show, and it didn’t catch on.
Used as an early season replacement on CBS in the fall of 1990, it ran for 4 episodes before itself being canceled, it’s said on the same day that they cancelled another of Cannell’s shows, Wiseguy…then in its 4th season…with Kenneth Wahl as the undercover FBI guy, also remembered for Ray Sharkey as Sonny Steelgrave and Kevin Spacey as Mel Profitt. And of course, “Wiseguy” was the name of the book about Henry Hill…changed for the movie to Goodfellas because of this show. Anyway, several more episodes of BB had been filmed…they were “burned off” by CBS later in the season, and that was that.
But one of the things viewers remember most is the rollicking theme song, composed by Mike Post…who was doing themes for everybody back then…and the bayou scream that sync’d with the dummy’s head popping up, seen in color at top. Now it sort of sounds like it might be Huey Lewis singing, but it wasn’t…and wouldn’t you know, something as obscure as this, the good ole internet comes thru like a champ. The vocal was by Wayne Toups (above left), the so-called “Cajun Springsteen,” shown here playing the unique cajun accordion. Above right is BB‘s long-suffering sergeant, played by Don S. Davis…both he and Ferrer were fresh off meaty roles on that prime-time-soap-opera-from-hell, Twin Peaks…he gained his greatest fame of course as the general on Stargate SG-1.
Another fondly recalled show from that period…co-written by Conan O’Brien…was Lookwell, with Adam “Batman” West as a delusional actor who thought he was a real cop because he once played on on TV. This was actually just a pilot, never made into to a series, but wouldn’t you know, you can relive those thrilling days of yesteryear thanx to YouTube…check it out…
shameless plugs, and don’t call me shirley…
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