Pedro Gomez & Dennis “Hardball” Bakelenekoff (Grand Slam)

Created by Bill L. Norton

In this extremely short-lived action/adventure series, comic Paul Rodriguez and John “Dukes of Hazzard” Schneider starred as PEDRO GOMEZ and DENNIS “HARDBALL” BAKELENEKOFF, bounty hunters for competing firms who eventually team up to nail a ruthless South American drug dealer, and end up going into business together, despite the fact they can’t stand each other.

Hardball was played by John (Dukes of Hazard) Schneider, and was a hard-boiled ex-cop who was known for using baseballs to bean bail jumpers (hence the nickname), while Pedro was played by comedian Paul Rodriguez, a walking stereotype whose main contribution was a steady stream of wisecracks and a penchant for eating spicy food.

“You white boys ain’t got the stones for ’em,” he tells Hardball at one point.”

I guess CBS had high hopes for this one, airing the pilot/first episode in the sweetheart spot following the 1990 Superbowl, but it didn’t help. The mismatched, Hispanic/Caucasian odd couple tracking down bail-bond jumpers in the San Diego area (or was it LA?), just wasn’t all that funny–or exciting. It was compounded by the fact the two leads possessed zero chemistry, and often seemed to be in entirely different shows.

Of course, by then we’d seen it all before. It was no 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon or even Miami Vice–the obvious inspirations. A few people seem to have loved it, but the rest of the world mostly ignored it. Lots of car chases and doors being kicked in are all I (vaguely) remember. Oh, and a jumpy, frenetic opening sequence featuring a lot of hip-hop styled graphics that promised way more cool than the show ever delivered.

The series was later released on video in the UK under the name Dead Trouble, and a few episodes may have been combined to generate a straight-to-disc “movies” for foreign markets.

UNDER OATH

  • “…a shiny, handsome, gleaming hunk of worthless trash.”
    Tom Shales in The Washington Post (January 27, 1990)
  • “… the deeply unlovable… bickering duo generate precious few laughs…”
    — RadioTimes.com

TELEVISION

  • GRAND SLAM
    (aka “Dead Trouble”)

    (1990, CBS)
    8 60-minute episodes
    Created by Bill L. Norton
    Writers: Bill Norton, Dan DiStefano, Steve Hayes, Stan Berkowitz, Paul Diamond, Steven L. Sears
    Directors: Bill Norton, Bruce Kessler, Stephen L. Posey
    Produced by John Duffy, Terry Morse Jr.
    Music by Joseph Conlan
    Starring Paul Rodriguez as PEDRO GOMEZ
    and John Schneider as DENNIS “HARDBALL” BAKELENEKOFF
    Abel Franco as Al Ramirez
    Larry Gelman as Irv Schlosser
    and Lupe Ontiveros as Grandma Gomez
    Guest stars: Juan Fernandez, Susan Walters

    • “Pilot” (January 28, 1990)
    • “Chop Shop” (January 30, 1990)
    • “Dog Days” (February 7, 1990)
    • “My Favorite Sociopath” (February 14, 1990)
    • “He Works Hard for the Money” (March 7, 1990)
    • “Byte the Bullet” (March 14, 1990)
    • “Arana” (April 17, 1990)
    • “Who’s Crazy?” (possibly unaired)
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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