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But Kresky's ratings continued their gradual backslide going into the 1978-79 season. The newly debuted Incredible Hulk was successfully siphoning off a large portion of the series' all-important youth demographic, and inferior crime shows like CHiPs and VEGA$ were gaining ground. It was time to put the Cantrell plan into motion. While developing Cantrell, Jameson had held back on deciding the character's place of origin, waiting instead for a moment of divine inspiration to lead him to the perfect all-American hometown for his rural cop. It was during this time that Jameson literally ran into a parking attendant/unemployed musician from West Virginia in the lot of a trendy Beverly Hills eatery. The actor was unhurt, and Jameson had found his new star: Ronald Whitney. The producer quickly amended Cantrell's bio, making him from Charleston, West Virginia, and the ball was set rolling.
As Jameson had predicted, Terrence Michael Matterly did not react well to the news he was gaining a co-star. The actor threatened to walk off the series, complaining that the addition of a partner for Kresky "violated the integrity of the original premise." The network knew it could hardly afford to lose Matterly and gave in to his demands for 100 percent salary increase and a share of the profits. The actor also insisted that his new co-star receive only a "featured player" credit and that the title of the series never in any way be changed. "Kresky is first and foremost about the loneliness and isolation of a non-conformist undercover cop," Matterly told TV Guide. "I won't be a party to anything that might defile the purity of that concept." In the meantime, Ronald Whitney's agent advised the actor that he should start employing his never-used middle name of Dean, so that he would not be completely eclipsed by this co-star's lengthy, multipart moniker.
He needn't have worried; for not only did the newly christened Ronald Dean Whitney help pull Kresky out of its ratings slump, he stole the show and took America by storm. While the cool, sexually assured Kresky had been a role model for men across the country; the fresh-scrubbed, cherubic Cantrell was the big thing with the females, particularly teenage girls in search of yet another non-threatening heartthrob to worship. Whitney's fan mail quickly surpassed Matterly's, reaching an astonishing 10,000 letters a week. Thanks to Cantrell -- and Whitney -- Kresky was once again going strong.
If things had started off badly between Matterly and Whitney, they rapidly deteriorated when the West Virginian hit it big as a teen idol. Matterly allegedly resented Whitney, blaming him for the dumbing down of his show. "I'm not interested in being a pin-up," Matterly said in Newsweek. "Acting is about truth and revelation, not T-shirts and magazine covers." The inexperienced Whitney was hurt and bewildered by his colleague's chilly attitude. Matterly barely acknowledged his co-star and began to speak to Whitney
only when in character, claiming that it "lent verisimilitude to
the on-screen relationship." Whatever his real motivation, the
ploy seemed to work. On-screen, Matterly and Whitney appeared to be the
closest and most loyal friends.
P.H. Season 1
P.H. Season 2
P.H. Season 4
P.H. Season 5
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