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Remembering 'Poochinski,' Chicago's Insane, Farting-&-Talking-Dog TV Show

By Stephen Gossett in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 4, 2017 4:58PM

The dustbin of pop-culture history overflows with so much entertainment detritus that it's basically inspired a cottage industry of dreck reappraisal and deconstruction. So it takes a special kind of godawful WTF-ery to rise to the top—by sinking to the bottom, of course. One of those standout flameouts—a true Citizen Kane of sub-moronic network-TV filler—has a connection to our fair city, even though it's barrel-scraping reputation seems to be relatively unknown in Chicago. To that end, today we remember Poochinski.

Developed in 1990, Poochinski lives on as but a single 22-minute pilot. Here's the plot, which we assure you is not some belated April Fool's Day prank on our part: After being killed in the line of duty, a Chicago detective (played by the late Peter Boyle—yes, the excellent, much-admired character actor) has his spirit reincarnated as "a streetwise bulldog" with a minor flatulence problem. (Sample dialogue: "First I'm gonna try licking myself, and then I'm going to catch my killer." The dog's partner: "You're still upset about that rabies shot, aren't you?") Per the trailer, "The talking dog teams up with his astonished former partner to put the bite on crime." Cut to, inevitably, Poochinski chomping down on a bad guy's crotch. Astonishingly, Poochinski never made it to series.

It's been called, with some justification, "the best/worst show that never was."

Despite the Chicago setting and characters, producers only made fairly faint gestures to the city—which wasn't uncommon to see either then or now. There are some downtown establishing shots, a Cubs reference, a police radio call location at Clark and Diversey, things like that. But you can also glimpse what we're pretty sure is the Highland Theater, in L.A. But from the Polish-sounding surname to the sharp-elbows cop routine, it definitely feels like a TV exec's fever-dream version of Chicago—spiked with extra doses of some seriously bad-vibes hallucinogen.

We've included the trailer below. If you survive that minute and want more, you can take gleefully masochistic dive into the full pilot episode, below the trailer.