Monday, April 03, 2006

In Praise of a Bad Show - and An Underrated Actor

After being distracted all day yesterday, I actually managed to finish off a couple of obligations today. Yup -I finished writing up half a season's worth of music on Quantum Leap, a season that barely had any music not written by the show's main composer, Velton Ray Bunch. And I wrote a one-page article in appreciation of a nearly-forgotten tv series from 1992, Tequila & Bonetti.

Say what? Tequila & Bonetti?

That's right.

The show about the talking police dog?

He didn't exactly talk, but yes, that's the one.

But that was a stupid show. The dog was constantly making not-so-funny wisecracks, and the humor mostly involved the dog peeing on something or someone.

It got better.

You're kidding.

No, really.

Tequila & Bonetti was produced by Donald P. Bellisario (Quantum Leap, JAG), with a lot of help from a bunch of Quantum Leap producers, writers and guest stars. Sure, it was a terrible idea for a show (Universal came to Bellisario with it, not vice-versa), and some of the humor was extremely lame and sophomoric, especially early on. But a few episodes in, the show started to find the right balance of drama and comedy. Charles Rocket (SNL, Max Headroom) was particularly brilliant as Captain Midian Knight, a frustrated Hollywood screenwriter moonlighting as a police captain.

Veteran wrestler Terry Funk (no relation) was funny as Sgt. Nuzo. But
Charles Rocket as Captain Midian Knight was the real comedic standout.

Here's another standout. Liz Torres was great
in at least two episodes as Gina the psychic.

I was going to write more about the show here, including the fact that good writing and a great cast can't save a show with a fundamentally bad premise. But I was just over at IMDb. Having just watched and enjoyed a bunch of Charlie Rocket's work, I was shocked to learn that the reason Sharon wanted material about him for The Observer is that he killed himself in October 2005.

This is terrible news. I really liked him in everything I'd ever seen him do, except the gig that made him both famous and infamous, Saturday Night Live. Way back in 1992 I saw him shooting a scene of Tequila & Bonetti, doing every take slightly differently, improv style. I even wrote him a fan letter, and got a handwritten reply. His stationary had a little drawing of a rocket on it.

I don't want him to be dead.



Update: 11/9/07: Please the comments below and this MySpace posting for more on the life and death of Charlie Rocket. - KFB


Carly said...

Hey :(

Yeah, I was sad to hear about his suicide last October. I was a fan also. The first place I ever saw his acting was on an episode of Moonlighting. He played David Addison's (Bruce Willis) brother Ritchie Addison. Brilliant together.I always considered him one of those, close to superstar, stars. Another overlooked acter is Terry Kiser. I am overdue to write that entry about him. Sigh.

DesLily said...

that's too bad.. sad that people are so depressed they do that.

I suffer with depression but thankfully i've never ever thought of taking my own life..

Becky said... THERE is a familiar face. He has been in so many things, but I had to go look him up to pinpoint the ones I was thinking of. Dumb and Dumber... Max Hedroom... Earth Girls are Easy... Yeah. I totally remember him. But I don't remember that TV show at ALL. Hmm. Very sad.

Jeff said...

I hadn't thought about this show in a long time-I remember him as Max Headroom and Moonlighting (Wasn't he David's brother on there?)

Terry Funk lives in my town and is sort of a local celeb.

I have been catching Quantam Leap reruns and loving it!

Hope you are having a great week-Jeff

yasmin said...

Hi Karen

I've only just come across your blog about Charlie Rocket. I don't know why it hasn't come up in google before.

Over a year ago on the 30 Oct 06 my life changed.

I found out who Charlie Rocket was & about his suicide. I'd never come across him before. I had just watched him in Quantum Leap : A Little Miracle. ( had just got it on DVD in the UK). I saw him as a beautiful young man who was crying at the end of the story because he didnt want to die, I wanted to know more.

I was absolutely shocked when I found out he had taken his life over a yr before (7 Oct 05 ). I was even more stunned by the way in which he had taken it. He cut his own throat, I felt so sorry for him because he must've been so tormented & in such emotional pain. I reacted so strongly to Charlie's death. ( even though he was a stranger) I so badly wanted to know why.

Most people made nice comments on blogs & news articles but some were very unkind & called Charlie selfish & the like & that really upset me - they had no idea what he was facing.

There was nothing though in any news reports to say why he committed suicide. Well I did find out a few things & I wrote something in myspace.

My life has not been the same since I found out who he was & about his suicide.

I had to learn about a lot of things, including child abuse & mental illnesses & the different kinds of illnesses. Aswell as a few other things..........

Charlie was very ill & mentally suffering with a lot of things. He was also pushed over the edge by what he was supposed to have done a few hours after his body was found. He had been due to film the Saturday Night 80's Lost & Found Documentary in New York City.
(it is only my opinion though )

When I watch Charlie in some things I sometimes can see his sadness - not related to the storyline or character he's playing.

I have learned that Charlie was the least selfish person I've ever come across - always looking out for the other person. He was a multi-talented, softly spoken & a humble human being, aswell as being well respected & loved by those that knew him.

Thanks for sharing about the fan letter & for putting up his pictures - I will try & add them to myspace.

I wish I had known him but well I found him too late. Charlie will forever be in my prayers.

in memory of Charlie Rocket

Karen Funk Blocher said...

Thanks, Yasmin, for your comment and the link. I hereby recommend your MySpace piece about Rocket to anyone who comes across this entry.

If you email me (mavarin at, I'll send you the text of the tribute I wrote for The Observer last year.

yasmin said...

Hi Karen

Thanks. I would very much like to see what you wrote about Charlie for The Observer.
I have sent you an email msg.