Man alive…Randy Johnson seems to be in one out of every six commercials on the air. This makes me think two things:

1) He has one hell of an agent;

2) If he had been born 25 years sooner, Johnson would have followed up his baseball career with the lead role in an NBC cop show called “The Arm Of The Law,” playing LAPD Detective Randy Armstrong. It’d be a lot like “Walker, Texas Ranger,” only instead of catching crooks by kicking them, he’d catch crooks by throwing things at them.

He’d be partnered with a female detective with enormous hair whose main job in every episode is to get kidnapped or say things like

“He’s getting away, Randy! And he has all the money from the community battle of the bands concert! That was the budget to save the teen anti-drug program!”

At which point Detective Randy grabs two apples from a nearby fruit stand. He fires the first one straight into the car’s exhaust pipe, causing it to sputter to a halt. The crook then jumps out of the car, brandishing a gun, only to be beaned into unconsciousness by a second 95 MPH pippin.

“You’ve just been thrown out of the game,” he says.

Or maybe “Take your base…in jail!

How about “Sorry, Cap…I couldn’t help it. He was in my strike zone.” (after his Captain rushes in with the cuffs and and complains about the paperwork he’s going to have to fill out)?

The show would have written itself. One week, a drug kingpin kidnaps a bunch of orphans. Detectives Randy and Bighair finally track them to an auto wrecking yard, where their school bus has been dropped into a car crusher. Randy has to throw an old carburetor at the EMERGENCY STOP button from sixty feet and six inches away.

In another episode, the Space Shuttle is taking off but the astronauts are unaware that a drug kingpin has stolen a critical component from the side of the orbiter to power his new drugmaking computer. They’ll all die in an explosion, unless Detective Randy can throw a replacement part at it fast enough to catch up to the orbiter, accurately enough to hit the receptacle precisely, and hard enough that it snaps into its electrical connectors.

A group of troubled teens has been flouting authority by breakdancing near the stationhouse. Detective Randy suspects that they’re going to try drugs if someone doesn’t step in soon! So after an interventionary talk (“The only think I’m pitching today is ‘truth’, kids: drugs are for losers”) he promises them front-row seats at the upcoming anti-drug rally at the local teen center. It’s all anybody’s been talking about for weeks over at the high school, because (special guest star) Gary Coleman will be the master of ceremonies. When Gary Coleman is kidnapped by a drug kingpin, the troubled teens accuse Detective Randy of being just another “turkey” who’s been “talking jive.” Randy rescues Gary Coleman and arrests the kidnappers (a certain amount of throwing is involved) and they race to the teen center.

They make it to the back of the packed gymnasium, just as the director of the teen center is finishing his introduction. The troubled teens already have a big syringe full of marijuana, ready to plunge into their legs if Gary Coleman doesn’t take the stage on time. But it’s impossible…Gary Coleman will never be able to make his way through the crowd in just twenty seconds. Randy spies the leather chair on the stage. It’s shaped like a giant catcher’s mitt, and that suddenly gives him an idea…

Lots of great opportunities for episode-ending freeze frame gags, too. A druglord’s plan to close down a teen center has been foiled and the cops and the teens are having a big celebratory dinner. The cratchety old captain blithely asks Randy to pass him a roll. Everybody ducks as Randy goes into a windup. Freeze-frame as the twangy melody of the show’s theme leads into the end-credits.

I think we’ve proven another thing: If I’d been born twenty five years sooner, I’d be writing really awful detective shows. I’d also be incredibly successful at it. I honestly don’t know whether to feel relieved or regretful.

17 thoughts on “N-B-SEEEEE us!

  1. Matthew Ebel

    You’re missing the obvious title, though. Sort of a combination of “The Shield” and “Special Victims Unit”. Just call it “The Unit”.

  2. Ian Stoba

    Andy, you will be delighted to know (as I was) that Barnaby Jones, The Rockford Files and The A-Team are all available on Netflix.

  3. Kirk Heflin

    Don’t forget at the end of the anti-drug rally, when the likeable fat kid who wears a beret drops his tape recorder and we also get a lesson about piracy and how wrong it is to boot-leg Gary Coleman concerts.

  4. ctopher

    In case you haven’t noticed, there are still alot of shows like this on. Andy, have at it. You can’t do any worse.

  5. Michael

    That’s some imagination you’ve got there Mr. Ihnatko. Yes…sommmmme imagination.

  6. Ed

    what was with the freaky marching clone librarians prior to the start of the commercial?? gaaah!

  7. Ophelia

    Oh wow. I, um, uh… thank you, Andy. I’m so grateful for this column you have no idea. Ouch, it’s so perfect it hurts. Thank you.

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  9. Henry

    Wasn’t there some baseball themed buddy cop show back in the tail end of the 80s? Sort of a lethal weapons ripoff with a longhaired ex-ballplayer and his gruff too-old-for-this-shit partner?

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