TEQUILA AND BONETTI.  “Street Dogs.” CBS, 60m. 17 January 1992. (Season 1, Episode 1.) Jack Scalia as Detective Nico “Nick” Bonetti, Charles Rocket as Captain Midian Knight, Mariska Hargitay as Officer Angela Garcia, Brad Sanders as Tequila (voice). Writer: Donald P. Bellisario. Director: Michael Zinberg.

   In case you’re wondering, Tequila is a dog, a police dog, mind you, and a good one, but a dog, and one of the ugliest dogs you’ve ever seen. Police detective Nick Bonetti is a transplant to L.A. from New York City, and part of the basis thesis of the series is that he’s a fish out of water. I think Jack Scalia made a good part of his acting career playing an Italian from Brooklyn, a role which I’m sure came very easy to him, because that’s exactly who he is.

   In “Street Dogs” he solves a murder which everyone else thinks was a suicide, but it takes Tequila’s strong sense of smell to catch the killer. And having written that, I see that I’ve neglected telling you what the kicker is in all this. We, the viewer, get to hear Tequila’s wry commentary on what’s going on around him. No one else, only us.

   Well, someone thought this was going to be a very funny concept, and audiences would lap it up. It might have been a go – audiences like talking animals, as you well know – but in spite of Bonetti’s natural brashness, he also comes with his own baggage. He accidentally killed a 12-year-old girl while on duty back in NYC, and he still hasn’t gotten over it. Breaking down and crying in the arms of his ex-wife just doesn’t go with the flow. It broke the comic mood entirely, I can tell you that.

   Apparently 10 of 12 episodes that were filmed actually made it onto the air. It’s a wonder it lasted as long as it did.