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Half Nelson

Pilot special (March 24, 1985)

Rod Taylor plays Gen. George Lavin, deputy commander of NATO, in this two-hour pilot for NBC. The mid-season TV series starred Joe Pesci and lasted six episodes.

In "Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood," author Stephen Vagg writes that Rod did this as a favor to executive producer Glen A. Larson (who produced "Masquerade").

The pilot sets up the New York back story and first L.A. case for pint-sized Rocky "Half" Nelson.

After making a big drug bust, Nelson is hailed a hero and is offered the chance to be the lead actor in a movie about his life story. He quits the NYPD and heads to Hollywood, but he is rejected by the director for being too short -- too short to even play himself! Before he leaves the studio, he meets a security guard who encourages him to join the Beverly Hills Patrol, a private security firm tasked with protecting celebrity residents.

Nelson's primary client is Dean Martin, who is part owner of the Beverly Hills Patrol. Nelson lives in his guest house, providing security and fixing gadgets around the estate.

Pesci's other co-stars were former football player Fred Williamson as the chief operating officer, comedian Victoria Jackson as a ditzy assistant, and a dog named Hunk. Many former athletes had roles in the series, and the pilot episode included football players John Matuszak and Tim Rossovich, baseball player Jerry Reuss, and boxer Larry Holmes.

In the pilot plot, two of Nelson's co-workers -- Monica and Jerry -- have acquired tapes that show powerful people in compromising positions -- including General Lavin. When  Monica is killed and Jerry mortally wounded, the police captain (played by George Kennedy) declares the case open-and-shut: murder-suicide. But Nelson suspects foul play and pursues the investigation.

The source of the tapes is voyeuristic millionaire Arthur Harrison (played by Robert Webber). He warns his cronies that tapes have disappeared that show them in compromising positions. In addition to Rod (General Lavin) the subjects of the sex tapes are Tony Curtis (Antonio Marco, restaurant owner and mobster), Gary Lockwood (astronaut Jack Taylor) and Bernie Kopell (entertainment executive).

General Lavin, of course, turns out to be the most honorable of the group of roustabouts.

View Rod's scenes in this video on YouTube:





Thrilling Detective synopsis

TV Obscurities



Rod's scenes on YouTube