Web Exclusives: Inky Dinky Do
a PAW web exclusive column by Hugh O'Bleary

February 21, 2001:
A Mod Squad for the Street
Undercover cops penetrate the eating clubs: fact or fiction

By Hugh O'Bleary

We can all agree that there's nothing funny about over-indulgence in alcohol - well, except for Dudley Moore in Arthur, or John Belushi in Animal House, or W.C. Fields in just about anything, or that scene in Lucky Jim when he has that toenail trouble after a few too many toots, or that time my uncle Mike mooned the Shriners' float, or ... Er, that is to say, at least, that there's nothing funny about the news of the latest alcohol-related incident on campus, a Bicker binge that sent 15 people to the hospital or infirmary. I mean, I was so shocked when I read about it that I nearly spit my beer all over the train. Ha, ha! See, there's another example of drinking not being funny.

What is funny, however, is the notion reported in some local newspapers that Princeton Borough police are threatening to use undercover agents to crack down on underage drinking at eating clubs. I can just picture some 42-year-old local cop, dressed in a brand new Princeton sweatshirt and Tiger cap lurking around Ivy or Terrace pretending to read a chemistry textbook while eyeing any imbibers for signs that they're well, not yet half his age. Hey, dude, what's your major?

The Bicker episode drew the usual tsk-tsking and concerned discussion among the old guard on the Dinky. (And a few fond reminiscences of Bickers past from some of the old, old guard, but that's another story.) Still, I found myself thinking about the undercover angle. I decided to go high-concept. I broke out the cell phone. (For a couple of years, I had resisted joining the cellular hordes, but New Jersey Transit's reliability record being what it is lately, I finally gave in, if only to be able to call my wife from the train to tell her to get the old shaker ready.) I put a call in to my friend Scott on The Coast. Sure, it was only 4:30 A.M. Hollywood time, but I knew Scott would already be in the office, talking foreign rights with London while riding the elliptical trainer and story-boarding his latest film or cable project.

After the second ring, Scott's voice came over the phone. "Talk to me."

I gave him the pitch: "It's Mod Squad meets Good Will Hunting!"

There was silence from The Coast. I plunged on. "Three hot young kids - a girl, two guys. They're in trouble with the law. Maybe the girl's a runaway-turned-hooker; one of the guys is from the projects, he's on the lam from gangbangers who offed his brother; the other guy's the son of a Mafia kingpin who just got whacked. He's got nowhere to go. None of them do. The cops take them in and give them one last chance: They've got to go undercover as students to bust an underage keg ring at - get this - Princeton University. Call it, Undercover Tigers!"

I took a quick breath. "Only the president of the university knows they're not real students. "They're kind of like legacies, right?" he says. The kids think they can handle it, but they get sucked into college life. One of the guys becomes a star athlete and, between classes, studying and practice, can't find the time to spy on his clubmates. The young woman gets the lead in the spring musical and is away at rehearsals every night. The other guy gets bogged down with his junior paper and obsessed with getting grad school recommendations. It all comes to a head at houseparties. There's a chase down Prospect Street, a shootout, explosions, the eating clubs are leveled. The heroes bust the drinking ring - and all graduate cum laude."

I waited in silence.

"It's boffo, O'Bleary," said Scott. "But you're too late. Matt and Ben pitched it to Miramax already. They got DeNiro to play the president."

I think maybe I need a drink.

You can reach Inky Dinky Do at "Hugh O'Bleary"