Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Four episodes into the EXTRALARGE series and it appears Tom is winning out in the “Guest Starring” sweepstakes.  While I get guys like Juan Fernandez, Sir Thomas of San Jose has been served up Christopher Atkins, Andrew Stevens and Lou F’N Ferrigno! This just ain’t right.  That right there is enough B-movie acting talent for three early ‘90s direct-to-video flicks.  My luck appears to be changing though as I pop in “Cannonball” and get greeted with “Special Guest Star Erik Estrada” on my screen.  Good day, Mr. CHiPs! “This episode is guaranteed to be awesome,” said my Bud-beleaguered brain. Haha, what do I know?

Jack “Extralarge” Costello has found himself amongst a lot of undesirables in his cases so far.  He’s dealt with thieves, dirty politicians, a child killer, terrorists, crooked boxing promoters, kung fu killers and even a wisecracking kid.  Not to mention having to deal with his accent-wavering buddy Dumas. But now it is time to place Costello in the seediest world imaginable where drugs, gambling and murder run rampant.  No, he isn’t taking on Hollywood.  It is something much more sinister, a world where few enter and even fewer survive.  A place that Obi-Wan would say is a “wretched hive of scum and villainy.”  We could only be talking about – hut, hut – college football!  My God, this Jack Costello has a death wish!

The plot kicks off with the college football team the Lions practicing for their upcoming big game.  The coach seems perturbed that their star player “Long” John Hatter (Fritz Dominique) isn’t anywhere to be seen.  His buddy Cannonball (Stephen Lankau) – a character written so deep they never even give him a real name – assures coach that everything will be fine when the big game arrives.  So where is “Long” John? I’ll let the jocks explain.

Cannonball: “Where do you think he is?”
Random jock: “Probably in some cheap hotel…”
Both in unison: “…with an even cheaper hooker!”
Cannonball: “Alright!” (they high five)

Ah, you gotta love them Italians and their realistic American dialogue.  Actually, that is probably dead on for some ’92 jocks and, sure enough, that is where “Long” John is as he apparently lives up to his name with a pretty white girl.  Two sketchy looking dudes (sketchy because they are always clad in jean jacks in the film and are not Native American) arrive at the hotel and get the room number under the guise of looking for their sister (“She checked in with a black guy.”) before shooting the clerk dead.  They burst into Hatter’s hotel room and fill him full of lead.  The woman he was with was in on it and splits before the two assassins stick a needle of heroin in his arm.

Meanwhile, across town in a shipping yard, Costello, Dumas and Sam are getting ready to bust a container full of cocaine. Unfortunately, they find out the illegal cargo is a gaggle of showgirls (!?!), who scoop Dumas up and, I assume, molest him.  Didn't know there was a huge market for bootleg showgirls. Luckily for Jack, the day isn’t a bust (haha) because Sam gets the call about the double homicide at the hotel.  They arrive just as the body is being wheeled out and Mrs. Hatter (Avery Summers) declares that her Johnny wouldn’t do drugs and be wrapped up with criminals.  She hires Jack to find out “the truth” and gives him a box of John’s things, which includes a mysterious key.  Costello begins using his charm against his old adversary, District Attorney Winnie Vance (Nancy Duerr).  She begrudgingly gives him access to the autopsy report, but feels it is a cut and dry case.  Besides, she has bigger fish to fry as national restaurateur Gonzales (Erik Estrada), who she tried to pin drug charges on, is getting off the hook right as we speak.

Costello decides the best way to handle the investigation is to split up to cover more ground.  Either that or he is getting as tired of Dumas as the viewers are. “Extralarge” decides to start investigating Dr. Shuby (Matthias Habich), the Lions’ team doctor, while he sends Dumas and Maria (Vivian Ruiz) all over Miami trying to find the locker that the key fits into. Surprisingly, the duo actually finds the locker – while inadvertently missing assassination attempts by the Jean Jacket Bros. – and they discover a duffel bag containing $250,000 in it.  Jack slowly (and I mean sloooooowly) starts to piece the whole thing together.  It seems the kids on the team were taking a new super steroid by the doc that made the endurance of the players grow stronger over the course of the game and “Long” John and Cannonball were using this insider knowledge to win big in the illicit world of gambling.  Can you guess who the local gambling kingpin is who isn’t too happy that he was losing to a crooked scheme?  That’s right, it is Gonzales.  I knew that Lamborghini wasn’t paid for with honest, hard-earned money like a Wall Street exec gets.  Naturally, Jack and Dumas decide it is time to go undercover and snag this dude which means Dumas doing all the talking. Nooooooooooooooo!

Alright, let’s see, so I got Erik Estrada.  Now what else do I get?  To quote Ted Knight from CADDYSHACK (1980): “You’ll get nothing and like it!”  Did you notice anything missing in the above paragraphs?  You know, like, action? Sadly, I knew this day was coming – the day when we hit the episode that is the end result of having spent all the money on car chases in the previous episodes. Unfortunately, “Cannonball” is the installment where they decided to focus on the detective elements in the show’s title.  This means lots of Jack Costello walking and talking.  Or, I should say, walking and semi-talking as 50% of the time I’m struggling to hear what is coming out of his mouth.  That is okay for Jessica Fletcher, but not for Bud Spencer.  After the opening shootout in the shipping yard, there is literally no action (save Jack’s car blowing up) until the 80 minutes mark where we get a big shootout at Gonzales’ mansion.  While it may rack up the highest body count in lovely slo-mo for the series so far, it is too much too late. When I hear a title like “Cannonball” and see Erik Estrada, I dream of a massive car chase down the streets of Miami.  The biggest action Estrada gets outside of the shootout is glaring his teeth.  Hell, maybe even throw Estrada on a motorcycle.  Sadly, we get nothing like that. While the “Yo-Yo” episode is full of self referential moments, we can’t even muster a single CHiPs reference.  Bud, I am disappointed.  Hell, Spencer spends 90% of this episode wearing sunglasses for some reason, so maybe even he doesn’t want to be seen in this action-less entry.  On the plus side, this is the first episode so far to feature nudity.  On the downside, it involves a girl getting it on with Philip Michael Thomas doing his full on PepĂ© Le Pew accent.  I’ll offer you this screencap to save you the pain.  As Lou Ferrigno would say, “That'll be $20.”

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