As a big fan of Bradley Whitford's comedic timing -- admittedly, more on display in his work in Billy Madison than The West Wing -- I was excited to see him playing a comedic role in the new Matt Nix series The Good Guys. I'm also a fan of action comedies like Chuck and the late, great The Unusuals, so that had me pretty psyched as well. But it may take me a few more episodes to get warmed up to the show, because it's a lot more over-the-top than I thought it might be. I expected a funnier version of Nix's Burn Notice, but instead I got My Name is Earl with badges.
Whitford plays Detective Dan Stark, a former departmental hero, who once saved the mayor's son and solved a litany of crimes with his unorthodox methods, but has been demoted down to property crimes. No surprise, since he's regularly drunk, not to mention a Luddite who fears computers and their rapid fact-finding methods. He also doesn't believe in blood cells, and routinely mispronounces words, like "humidifinder." In short, he's written as pretty much a total idiot, and even his hot-dog cop-show methods are usually less than effective. His partner is Colin Hanks as Det. Jack Bailey, who has sabotaged his own career by correcting the grammar of his superiors and insulting their past work, although he does have an in with the assistant district attorney. For his part, Jack's nitpickiness rarely comes out, and usually he just comes across as an average, albeit exasperated, cop.
The plan each week seems to involve the duo investigating minor crimes that lead them to big, crazy, wild cases; in the pilot, a stolen "humidifinder" leads them to a thief who is targeted by a top-rate assassin dispatched by a Peruvian drug kingpin. I assume not all of the cases will be tangentially connected to other cases, because this seems like a huge coincidence that might get pretty unbelievable the fifth time around. Mostly, the show is pretty wacky, in the vein of other detective comedies like Psych or Andy Barker, P.I., but there are occasional moments of seriousness where the classic rock or soulful blues kicks in, and it actually feels like you're watching a Lethal Weapon movie. The guest-stars (in the first episode, at least) are top-notch: Nia Vardalos plays the robbery victim, who becomes a conquest for Dan and a hostage later in the episode, and Mikhail from Lost is a quirky assassin, who corrects his targets' Spanish and deserves a show all his own. And while the city of Dallas is meant to be a character in and of itself, it's certainly no Miami.
It's not a total loss, but it might be too goofy and not sexy enough for network prime time. If they manage to tone down the characters' cartoonish personas and turn them into real characters, and keep up the level of awesome guest stars, they'll keep me coming back. But if Jack and Dan can't become more than a pair of two-dimensional buffoons, this show may end up getting shot dead seven episodes away from retirement .
Read our interview with Good Guys creator Matt Nix here, and let us know what you thought of the show below!
Check out what Colin Hanks had to say about starring in The Good Guys, comparing himself to his dad Tom and more.
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