HARDBALL “Till Death Do Us Part.” NBC, 21 September 1989 (Season 1, Episode 1), 90 minutes. John Ashton (Charlie Battles), Richard Tyson (Joe ‘Kaz’ Kaczierowski). Guest Cast: Kay Lenz. Director: David Hemmings.

   The way I heard it, and I don’t remember where, the pair of Beverly Hills police detectives in Beverly Hills Cop played by John Aston and Judge Reinhold made such a big hit that they (someone) decided to make a TV series along the same lines: an older, streetwise and supposedly wiser cop (Aston) is paired up with a more freewheeling and a lot younger partner (Tyson, in the series). Basic themes: Culture clash, hair vs no hair, and a lot of humorous bickering, but at the end the day, a solid friendship (and partnership) is made.

   But “buddy cop” shows have come and gone for quite a while, and this one doesn’t add a lot to the genre. Wikipedia says the series was based on a couple of characters in the “Lethal Weapon” series of movies. I like my version better, even if I’m wrong.

   The series lasted for only one season, 18 episodes in all. It started in September of 1989, with a long break between December and April before ending in June. I think the people who spend their time reading up on old obscure TV shows on blogs like this one are the only ones who might remember it at all. Based on this pilot episode, I kind of wonder how it lasted a full season, more or less, but on the other hand, it could have been a lot worse.

   The story itself isn’t all that new, either. Ashton’s character is about to be forced into a desk job, but when a female witness (Kay Lenz) is about to testify against her gangster husband and needs protection, Ashton and his new partner are it. We’ve all heard that one before, but luckily there is more to the story. Ashton and Lenz’s characters have some history together, and there’s a little boy who bonds with Tyson’s, and if you don’t know he’s going to be kidnapped before the show is over, I apologize for coming right out and telling you.

   One remarkable thing about this show is Tyson’s hair. When he wears it in an unruly ponytail, it’s fine, but when he lets it flow unfettered and free, his head looks three times its usual size. Well, OK, there is one other thing. When Ashton gets desperate for information, I’ll just say he doesn’t mind who he smacks around and leave it at that.

   I have a collector-to-collector set of DVDs of most if not all the series, but with the first episode not really better than average, and a picture quality to match, I may or may not rush into watching more of them. On the other hand, I paid for them, so why not. But unless something happens in one of the later episodes I really want to tell you about, I’m not likely to say anything more than I have here.