Excerpts from ...

TV Guide

"Erik Estrada, Look Out!"
by Edwin Kiester, Jr.


In this season's revamped Lobo, "aw-shucks" deputy Brian Kerwin turns macho


Brian Kerwin, Deputy Birdie on NBC's comic-cops series Lobo, is wolfing down a monumental salad and at the same time describing his own experience with small-town law enforcement. He chortles and acts out all three parts in the story, set during the time he lived in Forest Grove, Oregon, and had just fallen in love with a model.


"Scandalous little story," he says, chuckling to show that it really isn't. "Linda was separated from her husband. We first met when she had just filed for divorce, and we kept wanting to see each other, but that's not really cool when a person isn't divorced. Especially because her husband was a policeman in town. And carried a gun." He pats his hip for more emphasis."


"One day she was driving me home and he followed in his own car and pulled us over. Did a real Starsky-and-Hutch thing and forced us to stop. Nasty guy! Linda said, 'Roll up all the windows, lock all the doors. If he tells you to open up, don't do it.' Suddenly I realized, 'Hey, he's got a gun!' He came over and said, 'Roll down the window.' I said no. He said, 'Open the door.' I said no. Finally I rolled down the window a little crack and he said, 'Listen, you, the divorce ain't final and you stay away from her!' And I said, 'Yes, sir! Anything you say, sir!' So I took a job with the Forest Service for three months so we could physically separate ourselves. "Of course, we did manage to meet on weekends!"


Though 30-year old Brian Kerwin himself leans toward the loquacious, as Deputy Birdwell Hawkins of Orly County, Georgia, the good ol' Southern boy who has gone to Harvard and returned to work as a deputy, his lines have been mostly limited to "Aw, shucks, ma'am" and "You bet, Sheriff," Lobo, a spinoff of BJ and the Bear, has cast him as third banana behind Claude Akins, who plays Sheriff Lobo, and Mill Watson, the tanglefoot Deputy Perkins. The two veterans draw most of the funny lines.


Things are changing this season, however. Pitching for younger and more urban audiences, NBC has transferred Lobo from cornpone Orly County to metropolitan Atlanta, and shortened the title from The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo to simply Lobo. As a country-bumpkin-become-city-slicker, Lobo will be more uppity and his con games more sophisticated. Deputy Birdie has changed, too. To appeal to teenyboppers and young housewives, he has become "more macho." "Whatever Erik Estrada is doing, I'm supposed to do," he says.


As for the future, he would like to play Shakespeare (which inspires another story) or do more feature films (still another story). Or maybe get married. "Linda and I carried on a cross-country relationship for about three years. She'd come here, I'd go to New York. Worked out fine. Then one day we just looked at each other and said, 'Well, whaddya think?' And that was the end of it."


Who, then, might the lucky girl be? Ah, that's another story.