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On The Rocks

By WallaceWimple

On the Rocks was an American TV retooling of a BBC sitcom called "Porridge" (which starred Ronnie Barker of "The Two Ronnies" fame - he was the fatter one). Set in Alamesa State Prison, OTR revolved around an ensemble cast of low-security prisoners and their weekly sit-comic battles with "The System."

Although I believe it was on after the famed "Television Family Hour," these prisoners were family friendly. They were loveable. They were the heroes; the "system" were the idiots.

The show was on after "Barney Miller" on Thursday nights (and was promoted as "Where the Criminals go After Leaving the Twelfth Precinct" and the two shows together were promoted as "Funny Cops and Funny Robbers") and had the same sort of flavor as "Miller." Lots of sitcom stereotypes.

Hector Fuentes was the sly Puerto Rican who had been in and out of jail so much, he knew all the workings, thus became the "leader. " ("Hey kid, when they give you your physical, tell them you got bad feet; that way you get to keep your own shoes, otherwise they give you prison shoes and then you WILL have bad feet!")

DeMott was the big, intimidating, take-no-crap black guy. If the guards ever harassed him, all he had to do was stand up and look down at them and they'd back off.

Then there was Nick Palik, the intellectual young white guy. He was a first-time prisoner so the others watched out for him. Opposite Palik was the big dumb white guy, Cleaver, (played by Rick Hurst).

Cleaver was the Happy Idiot. He had no problem with the prison system. As far as he was concerned, he was their guest. He appreciated everything the prison had to offer, always with a big dumb grin on his face. When he first meets Palik:

"Hi! My name's Cleaver"
Palik:"You're obviously just getting out.
Cleaver: "Nope! Just coming in! It's like my Uncle Stan used to say, There's always someone worse off than yourself!"
Palik: "Today I don't feel there's anyone worse off than myself. "
Cleaver: "How long you in for?"
Palik: "A year. "
Cleaver: "I'm in for two! See?! I'm worse off than YOU!"

Playing off of those four cellmates was Mr. Gibson, the hard-nosed guard and Mr. Sullivan (Tom Poston) the mild mannered guard. These guys were Klink & Schulz-like in that the prisoners could always doubletalk their way around their scrutiny, like Hogan's gang.

And occasionally, for a change of set, we got to see Warden Wilbur Poindexter's office wherein sat the big, nervous, "I gotta get outta this business" Maalox pounding warden (played by Logan Ramsey).

This show lasted one season and obviously knew it was going off the air, because the final episode was a one-hour retrospective.


Share Your Memories In Our Forums!

Check out our On The Rocks forum! Do you have a favorite episode of the show? What do you remember about the series? Do you have any questions about it or its stars? Now you can post comments and questions directly to our TV forums! Click here to see what other On The Rocks viewers have said or to post your own comments about the show!

Your Memories Shared!

Wow! I've been searching the internet for any information about this show. This is the first acknowledgement I've seen that it ever existed! The thing I remember about this show was that near the beginning, one character would say something funny, and all the other characters would crack up, except for one who just didn't get it. Then, near the end of the show, that dumb guy would start laughing for no apparent reason. Someone would ask him what's so funny, and he would reference the commend made at the beginning of the show. Can't believe I remembered that much! I was only 11 years old at the time. [Editor's note: Glad you did as we obviously don't have much on it either. Thanks for posting.]


Note: This is just a random sample of the On The Rocks messages in our TV forums! Click here to see what others have said or to post your own comments!



Aired: September 11, 1975 - May 17, 1976

Cast: Jose Perez, Rick Hurst, Hal Williams, Bobby Sandler, Mel Stewart, Tom Poston, Patrick Cranshaw

Network: ABC

Genre: Sitcom

Theme song

Image courtesy of ABC

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