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Hard Knocks aired from April to August 1987 on Showtime.

This was a sitcom that aired on Showtime during the late eighties. The two lead actors played former cops turned bounty hunters.

A Review from The New York Times


April 20, 1987

SOME ''alternative'' broadcasting entities talk confidently about producing sitcoms that are not likely to be found on the presumably more conservative or timid commercial networks. The results so far have been short of startling. But Showtime does more than talk. The pay-cable service has already delivered innovative series such as ''Brothers'' and ''It's Garry Shandling's Show.'' Now, tonight at 9:30, Showtime is introducing ''Hard Knocks,'' which stays loose enough to let its characters meander easily from comedy-variety to horror-movie spoofs, all the while commenting dizzily on everything from communal bathing to Uncle Charlie in ''My Three Sons.''

The executive producers of ''Hard Knocks'' are Gary Nardino (''Brothers'') and Chris Thompson (''Bosom Buddies''). The new series was created by Mr. Thompson, who this time has concocted buddies in the form of two bizarre private detectives. Gower (Bill Maher) is the more or less serious one, likely to lecture his dates on the threat of nuclear disasters. Nick (Tommy Hinkley) is more the basic animal with obvious and immediate needs. A poster of G. Gordon Liddy hangs on his bedroom wall.

The fellows hang out at Maggie's Restaurant, where the regulars include sarcastic, been-through-the-mill Maggie (Judith-Marie Bergan), Nick's sweet but savvy niece Terry (Babette Props) and a decidedly odd cook named Silky (James Vallely), once a sleazy criminal, now still sleazy but pushing fried cheese (''the only woman in my life is Betty Crocker''). The conversation stays aggressively silly. Fantasizing about her ideal beau, Maggie settles on Jay Leno, who, she says with the fervor of a press agent, ''after 20 years on the road is just now tasting success.''

The premiere episode, ''Play 'Mr. Tambourine Man' for Me,'' was written by Rob Dames and Bob Fraser and directed by Don Barnhart. Actually, it has nothing to do with Gower and Nick being private detectives. Instead, we find the two inseparables on a double date. Gower's very intense partner is Sheila Jesswalters (Gracie Harrison), whose parents were immigrants and named themselves after Jessica Walters.

Sheila is serious, so serious that when Gower attempts to treat their ''relationship'' like a one-night fling, she comes after him with a knife. That's where the horror-movie effects come in, complete with thunder, lightning and camera-lens distortions. In the end, Silky comes to the rescue, walking off with the determined Sheila while Gower warns him not to take her to a Benihana for dinner.

In one future episode, written by Don Reo, Gower and Nick take a security-guard job in Long Island to watch over a new killer potion that can also clean Formica. Needless to say, our clumsy heroes accidentally release the potion into the atmosphere and, soon thereafter, Dan Rather is on the air announcing that the world has only 24 hours to live. ''And he sounded mad,'' Maggie warns. While the news reports continue, offering ''the latest on this pesky cloud of death,'' Gower, Nick and the gang prepare gallantly for the end. Trying desperately to look on the bright side, they note that they will not have to put up with any more new cast members on ''Saturday Night Live.''

Wandering wackily into its own peculiar atmosphere, ''Hard Knocks'' contains decidedly encouraging signs of being that rare bird in sitcom land: something truly different. The series will eventually settle into a regular time period of Friday nights at 8:30, as part of what Showtime is calling a ''Comedy Night'' lineup.

A Review from The Chicago Tribune

`Hard Knocks` Doesn`t Earn Its Keep For Creative Laughs
April 20, 1987|By Clifford Terry, TV/radio critic.

Hard Knocks,`` a sitcom that premieres at 8:30 p.m. Monday on Showtime, opens with some self-consciously cute credits--during which the executive producer takes a potshot at his television screen--and it doesn`t get any better than this. Which is especially disappointing since the producer is Gary Nardino, one of those responsible for another Showtime sitcom, the irrepressibly classy ``Brothers.``

Nardino`s latest creation--an unfortunate choice to unveil during what is being billed as National Cable Month--revolves around a pair of dolts who, the publicity folks tell us, are in business together in Manhattan as private detectives (``Together, these two off-the-wall gumshoes make Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin look like Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop,`` etc.), although their occupation is never once mentioned during the opening half-hour. Gower Rhodes (stand-up comedian Bill Maher) is earnest and, allegedly, the brighter of the two. Nick Bronco (onetime bouncer Tommy Hinkley) is a confirmed chowderhead whose trademarks seem to be a shoulder holster and a propensity for off-kilter quotations. (``Like the dinosaur said, `I`ll survive.```)

In the opening segment of the series, created by Chris Thompson (``Bosom Buddies``), the twosome double-date on a getaway weekend in a cabin in Vermont. Nick`s lady, Gower remarks, is perfect for him: ``She`s sexy and gorgeous and . . . stupid.`` Gower`s friend, Sheila (Gracie Harrison) it is quickly evident, has other attributes. Walking in with a shotgun under her arm, she exclaims, ``What a beautiful morning. Let`s go kill something.`` It turns out that she harbors, as they say, a secret blood lust, and it also turns out that the episode is a sendup of Clint Eastwood`s ``Play Misty for Me.`` (To put not-too-fine a point on it, it is revealed that Sheila`s last name is Jesswalter. Get it? Jessica Walter.)

Before long, it becomes apparent that ``Hard Knocks``--full of screaming, shouting and sexual sniggering--makes programmers at the three networks look like charter members of MENSA. The writing is woeful, the characters are unappealing--especially a whiny-voiced cook/ex-con named Silky (James Vallely)--and the premise infantile.

In all fairness, though, there is one genuinely good line. Following a self-deprecating comment by Gower that he just hadn`t picked up Sheila`s

``little personality tic of violent psychomania,`` Maggie Ryan (Judith-Marie Bergan), the mini-skirted owner of the restaurant/bar where the private eyes hang out, cracks, ``You pick women the way Dudley Moore picks movie scripts.``

If the premiere is bad, an upcoming episode is even worse, as the partners (once more: a ``curiously lovable cross between `Dirty Harry` and G. Gordon Liddy``) find themselves guarding a top secret research laboratory for a quasi-mad scientist and unleashing a chemical cloud that threatens to destroy the world. Again, though, there is one halfway-redeeming remark. While waiting for Armageddon, Nick says to his group of friends, ``We`ve only got enough food and water for four,`` to which Silky replies, ``Now we know how Schwarzenegger feels at the Kennedy compound.``

For another review of Hard Knocks go to

to watch clips of Hard Knocks go to

For more on Hard Knocks go to

For Bill Maher's official Website go to
Date: Wed July 18, 2018 � Filesize: 60.4kb, 102.7kbDimensions: 1000 x 808 �
Keywords: Hard Knocks-Bill Maher & Tommy Hinkley


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