Advance word on this series was so virulently bad, I couldn't wait to be the one writer in the country actually to enjoy Tequila and Bonetti. Maybe every other critic just didn't get it it's possible, right? Alas, Tequila is pretty indefensible. The series is an hour- long comedy-cop show starring Jack Scalia (Wolf) as Nico Bonetti, a New York homicide detective who is transferred to Los Angeles and teamed, in a Turner & Hooch homage, with a morose-looking mastiff named Tequila. The twist is that we can hear Tequila's thoughts (his voice is provided by Brad Sanders); thus, for example, when tough-talking Bonetti insults some poor sap, the camera cuts to a close-up of the dog's face, and we hear Tequila say, ''Damn, this boy disses everybody he meets!''
The fact that Tequila ''speaks'' in a TV scriptwriter's idea of black street jive when the show goes to a commercial, Tequila says, ''Homeboy and I will be back in yo' face in a few minutes!'' is probably the lamest, and most insulting, aspect of this show. But Scalia's dialogue, which he renders nearly incoherent with an extravagantly hammy Italian accent, is equally idiotic. In a recent episode, Scalia's Bonetti managed to combine poor taste with hostile sexism while explaining why he thought a dead woman hanging from an apartment ceiling wasn't the suicide everyone else thought she was. ''Beautiful women don't hang themselves,'' he said blithely, ''they take pills so they look good in the coffin.'' Yeah, right, Bonetti, and sometimes foolish actors hang themselves in bad shows, and they don't look good at all. The next time I want talking-animal TV, I'll find a Mr. Ed rerun. D-