Hill Street Blues on Happy Juice

Forget the ratings. Bakersfield P.D. is the best new comedy -- and best-kept secret -- of the season.

Frustrated at doing police work by the book, detective Wade Preston likes to hark back to the cops he idolizes: "Baretta, Starsky and Hutch, Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin -- those guys had fun!" His partner replies impatiently, "Those are TV cops. They're not real." Whines the TV junkie: "Who says everything has to be real?"

Just so. Very little in Bakersfield P.D. qualifies as real, at least by TV's usual standards. In the pixilated police department where this sitcom is set, the captain is a nervous Nellie who can't make a decision without the approval of his protective aide-de-camp. One...

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