"I'm not going to rest until I find St. Clair, and when I find him I'm going to squeeze him so hard that his kishkas are going to hurt."
Thus speaks Ron Leibman as "Rivkin: Bounty Hunter" -- the CBS movie tonight at 9 on Channel 9 -- and the characterization comes across like a Mel Brooks spoof of Clint Eastwood. Unfortunately, "Rivkin" is supposed to be taken seriously. Leibman's ultra-ethnic old-soft-shoe has been seen before ("Kaz" and "Norma Rae"); by now, the bagels, bar mitzvahs and pinches-on-the-cheek have grown both predictable and tiresome.
Rivkin, when he isn't out roughing up informers as part of his job as a free-lance New York bounty hunter, dons his leather vests and gold chains and goes out dancing. He has a license plate that reads BOUNTY 1 (couldn't he be mistaken for Rosie, the paper-towel lady?). He thinks he is one bad dude.
He's bad all right, but in an unimpressive, maudlin way: He's a b-a-a-a-d yenta. He's so soppy, he makes a poor excuse for a virile hero. Rivkin calls everyone "sweetheart" or "dahling." For his handicapped son, played by "One Day at a Time" star Glenn Scrapelli, it's nothing short of sugarpie honeybunch, with lots of kisses on the mouth and teary-eyed remembrances of dear old dead Mom.
There is simply too much hokum to believe. When Rivkin is sent to pick up a homosexual for jumping bail in a sexual misconduct suit, he winds up inviting him home (platonically) and feeding him onion bagels. Harry Morgan, who plays a retired priest living next door, sings Hebrew hymns while tutoring Rivkin's son for his upcoming bar mitzvah.
Leibman's mug is on the screen for about 80 pecent of the two hours. He has started to look a bit like his ex-wife, Linda Lavin of "Alice," and it's no wonder an insurance agent tell him: "You're a walking disaster."
Writer and executive producer Peter Lefcourt goes from one cop show banality to another. The music, apparently a cross between the soundtracks from "Shaft" and "Midnight Express," prepares the way for the next car chase or door-busting. The dialogue sounds as though it is from a script entitled "Menachem Begin Visits the Streets of San Francisco."
It is no shock at all that the movie, obviously a blueprint for a series, wasn't picked up for series action this fall. The networks have had plenty of cop shows and soap operas; the last thing needed is an overwrought combination of the two.