On The Rocks
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.