Friday, May 21, 2010

TV Review: "The Good Guys"

With Jack Bauer about to retire (from the small screen, at least), Fox has a Monday night slot to fill, and this summer they are testing out a new action comedy called "The Good Guys" starring Bradley Whitford (late of "The West Wing") and Colin Hanks (King Kong).

The concept revolves around Jack (Hanks), a by-the-book perfectionist, demoted to Routine Investigations after correcting the Police Chief's grammar ("There's no such thing as a 'Statue of Limitations'") and his partner Dan (Whitford), an alcoholic former supercop who can't let go of the past. Jack is up on all the latest technology, while Dan prefers to rely on instinct.

In the pilot, the partners literally stumble upon a case involving murder, drug money and a Peruvian drug lord. While investigating what appears to be a rather routine home invasion robbery (at guest star Nia Vardolos' home), the trail leads to an assassin ("Lost" alum Andrew Divoff) sent to retrieve a golf bag filled with four million dollars, stolen by a drug-runner presumed dead after plastic surgery gone very wrong. Jack wants to follow the leads using technology, with the help of his former girlfriend (Jenny Wade from "Reaper"), an assistant DA with a 73% conviction rate. Dan, wants to do the things the old-fashioned way, busting heads and chasing down leads on foot (or in a cherry vintage sports car he just has to have).

Borrowing heavily from the Tarrantino school of story-telling, the plot jumps back and forth in time, allowing us glimpses into things that happen outside our main characters' ken, while giving us insight into the characters' motivations. Jack and Dan report to their stock-character Latina boss (Diana-Maria Riva), who apparently hates both of them. Dan lives in the past and refers to computers as "computer machines" and repeatedly regales Jack with tales of his past glories (he only has his job because he saved the Governor's son from some as-yet unknown dilemma).

The performances in the pilot were fine. Whitford is terrific, making the most of a stock character and obviously having fun doing so. Hanks, while not blessed with his famous father's easy good looks, has a certain charm about him, and I bought his uptight, ambitious white guy routine. I was amused and entertained, but bothered by Dan's refusal to live in the present (even my 75 year-old auntie knows a computer is called a "computer"). There is potential here for this fun (if ridiculous) combination of "C.S.I.," "Law and Order" and "Starsky and Hutch." But while I truly enjoyed the pilot, I doubt it will go beyond its 8 episode summer season schedule. **1/2 (Two and a Half Stars out of Four).

Regular episodes of "The Good Guys" air Monday night at 9 PM Eastern on Fox, starting June 7th.

More, anon.

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