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Automatic Pilot Review: POOCHINSKI

Over the last few years their have been more and more animal movies(“A Talking Cat?!”, “Grumpy Cat”, “9 Lives”,  and so on)but most of them seem to be about dogs(“MAX”, the “A Dogs” franchise).  With all of these films I’m shocked, SHOCKED that more people haven’t brought up the 1990 NBC pilot(it did air) called “POOCHINSKI”.  *I vaguely remember it.*  I might’ve watched this at the time because the name sounded like it was vaguely Polish and I was living in Hamtrack, Michigan at the time.  Anyway, it stars actor Peter Boyle(of “Young Frankenstein” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” fame)as the titular character.  He’s a old schlub of a cop who one day gets killed and his consciouness is then put into a bulldog.  In the pilot he has to convince his old partner to team up with him to find his killer.  Hmm this seems similar to the setup for “DETECTIVE PIKACHU”.  How dare NBC steal a part of a concept from a movie 29 years into the future!  *and yes I know the game came out a few years ago!*


The episode begins like this: *Poochinski is awkwardly flirting with the new Dispatcher* (00:26) After he get’s to a crime scene and his partner shows his disdain for him he decides to play a little game with some kids who are beating up a dog.  *He does this (01:34)  The kids got off easy their lucky that Lucy(from Elfin Lied) wasn’t there!)* 

Later on another cop rags on Poochinski who’s making out with his new buddy and his response is: 02:36 - 02:44.  While this is happening Pooches(I’m calling him pooches here)partner is trying to get a transfer out of the precinct because of Pooches behavior.  Couldn’t just request a change for a new partner?  Does he hate him that much?  The captain denies this because of plot but not before he lists pooches accomplishments and this is a problem I have with the show so far.  This is the 2nd time this episode that we’ve been told that pooches is a great cop but nothing we’ve seen in the 3 mins since the start of the show proves that he is.  Show don’t tell!  So far I’ve seen him flirt with a dispatcher, pull a gun on kids and make out with a bulldog.  I don’t mind a smart character who’s bit quirky but this show hasn’t given me or whoever watched this show when it first came on anything other than pooches being a schlubby guy.


Later on after impressing his stakeout partners with his dulcet tones he show’s them one of the loves his life and with him talking about is pension let me guess he has only 2 days to retirement right?  Eventually a mugging occurs and his partner chases after the guy.  *05:11 (Hey, Don’t be a hero!”)* Uh isn’t that a police officers job?  Pooches is supposed to be a sympathetic character right?  You know if a mugger get’s away and jumps into a car and zooms off maybe, just MAYBE you should let them go.  Don’t fire at the car go talk to the mugging(or attempted mugging) victim.  This leads to Pooches driving after the perp and then getting run down because of that dang dog.  * Play Murtoug saying “I’m too old for this”*  


Then this happens 06:51(play Naruto Sexiness theme) Oh, okay that doesn’t happen he just dies.  Later after pooches funeral he meets his old partner again and Oy!  That dog puppet is terrible.  Would you believe ILM were the ones that made the puppet?  I don’t know what’s their worst work this or “Congo”.  Eh maybe “Congo”.  Every-time I pour out some cheesy pizza sauce it reminds me of the lava from that film!   The design of this dog looks like a cross of a bootleg gizmo from “Gremlins” and any creature from “The Black Crystal”!


Okay, see what had happen was Pooches spirit was put into the bulldog and now he wants his old partner to team up with him to catch his killer! duh, Duh DUH!  Wait! Why can only the partner hear him talk, what happened to the dog’s spirit when pooches went into his body and most importantly what’s with these lingering shots of the dog puppet?  It’s as if ILM and the director was proud of this work!


The two decide to team up to find his killer(uh isn’t it just some random mugger?)and what’s his name tries to get the chief to put him back on the case but he’s shooed away because of shenanigans!  Is it me or does it seem like that lady was enjoying Pooch’s loving a bit too much.  We then meet the love interest Fran and JEEZ she’s thirstier than a dying man in a desert.  Why hasn’t what’s his name gone after her yet?  Per his conversation with Pooches earlier he’s interested.  Yikes and I thought I was bad with my love life!  Also did she call him Robert or lover?


Okay Robbert(I guess that’s his name) and Pooches have a lovers spat and Rob kicks the dog out only to come back a little later with “Thirsty Fran”.  Waitaminute!  When Pooches went into the elevator he told the guy he wanted the 5th floor. 1. How did he know what floor Fran was on?  2.  Can regular people hear him speak now too?  I thought only Rob could hear him.  Plot hole sense tingling again!


Okay we’re 15mins into the pilot (with 6:30 to go)and no one has done any detecting! 2/3rd of the show is over.  There is only 6 mins left(not counting the ending theme) get to the point already!  (17:20) After more shenanigans Robbert and Pooches have a heart to heart talk.  (18:50)Awhile later while pooches is on stakeout when they find their mugger mugging in the daytime.  Really?  REALLY?  There’s 2 mins left in the program and they decide that now is the time to kick it into high gear?  Fine…  After a lackadaisical chase and terrible fight pooches is able to take down the perp with a crotch shot.  A quick aside the first dog me and my older brother had would always bite me there as well.


The episode ends with pooches now part of the force and one more shenanigan for the road.




Uh…it’s short at just under 22 mins?  Sorry, I’ve got nothing.  Okay, okay Peter Boyle isn’t bad in this.  No one is really bad in this pilot.  It’s just that after seeing reruns of “Tequila And Bonetti”(THANKS YOUTUBE & BRAD JONES!) it just seems that this wasn’t a very well thought out or paced intro to a series.  I think what needed to happen is that at least the first episode should have been an hour long.  If it was then the viewers would have time to get to know Poochinski more before his life change.


As for the comedy usually the comedy doesn’t work but sometimes it does.  An example is when pooches explains how he got put into a dog (08:49).  Well I thought it was funny.  A time when it doesn’t work was immediately after when he started eating grass.  It came off as being more annoying if anything.


The Suspects to this Crime of a Show!


Peter Boyle and Amy Yasback starred.  Industrial Light and Magic created the pooch puppet(But considering how it looks maybe they did this for a lark!), John Ritter was one of the producers for the show as well as 20th Century Fox(hmm…you know With the 20 Century Fox buyout Disney owns some of FOX’s tv shows.  Is Poochinski one of them?  If so could an animated tv series be made of it?  Just thinking.  You know with how stuffed this pilot is it could’ve been made into a movie.  I’m not kidding I think it would work.  A movie plot structure would fix a number of this shows problems.


Act 1: we get introduced to Stanley get a hold on his personality quirks and get to seem him be as good a cop as he and the chief say he is.  During that time we can even get to know his partner (who can drop hints about his future love interest).  At the end of the first act he dies and get’s put in the pooch.  


Act 2: we can have him and his partner get used to him being a dog and the wacky shenanigans that ensue.  


Act 3: have them track the perp(with the Pooches new dog abilities(?)) and at the end of the film Stanley can either pass on or stay a dog(ex. he’ll probably get a poodle as a love interest(or a Shitzu). 


Now I’m not saying it would be a good film but it would do a better job than this pilot did.



After watching this I think I can see why someone would think that this would work.  Human dog movies like Turner & Hooch, K-9 were successful in the theaters.  Plus you had Industrial Light and Magic doing the puppet work.  Prior to this pilot their most work was on the “Back to Future” films, “Total Recall”, “Star Trek IV: The Quest of Peace”, “Harry and the Hendersons” and so on.  Unfortunately the work that they displayed here was more on the level of “Howard the Duck” and “Willow”.  


In order to work this pilot had to be structured different or be way longer.  Considering the popularity(or visability) of the current crop of animal films I could see another network dipping it’s toe and trying this concept again.


A big reason why I wanted to watch and review this show again is that I was feeling nostalgic.  The last film I saw with all of my immediate family alive and around was Marley and Me.  Since then if there is a dog(or animal) film I’m going to take an interest in it. 


* OMAKE: play young frankenstein putting on the ritz

play just about anything from “Airplane” ex “what’s that”


** Peter Boyle and Amy Yasback starred in this.  Industrial Light and Magic created the pooch puppet(But considering how it looks maybe they did this for a lark!), John Ritter was one of the producers for the show as well as 20th Century Fox(hmm…you know With the 20 Century Fox buyout Disney owns some of FOX’s tv shows.  Is Poochinski one of them?  If so could an animated tv series be made of it?  Just thinking.  You know with how stuffed this pilot is it could’ve been made into a movie.  I’m not kidding I think it would work.

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