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TV Reviews : Canine Cop Capers in ‘Tequila & Bonetti’

“Tequila & Bonetti” is “Turner & Hooch” meets “Look Who’s Talking.”

Premiering at 9 tonight on CBS (Channels 2 and 8), this is another of those series about unlikely crime-fighting teams. Highly unlikely. Nico Bonetti (Jack Scalia) is a tough, single New York cop on loan to a California beach community’s police department, where his new captain (Charles Rocket) is an aspiring screenwriter who teams him with a widowed rookie (Mariska Hargitay) and a dog named Tequila.

Because of the dog--an expressive French mastiff that thinks like a human and whose slobbery, belching jive talk is heard only by the TV audience--this largely nit-witty hour is almost watchable. Almost .

There’s some humor in Rocket’s character, and Tequila’s lovably jowelly face--though not his dialogue--is a scene stealer. But executive producer Don Bellisario’s script is an awkward clash of tones in which wacky comedy and heavy drama--a murder investigation and Nico’s wrenching flashbacks to a traumatic shooting of a 12-year-old girl--coexist about as well as Serbs and Croats.

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Meanwhile, there are California stereotypes aplenty here, but not much plot or logic, with viewers having a choice at 9 p.m. of hearing a talking dog on CBS or a man-talking infant on ABC’s “Baby Talk.”

“This is la la land,” says Nico. That it is.


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