Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Dallas cops just funny enough to earn tour of duty in the fall
Somewhere on the cop-show continuum that includes the gravely self-impressed seriousness of CSI: Miami and the kitschy '70s-cool irreverence of Starsky and Hutch, there must be a place for a sharply self-deprecating detective yarn like The Good Guys.
This lighthearted new police drama, which Fox is unleashing during summertime's less-frenzied viewing schedule, might not have been considered strong enough for the regular lineup, but it's sufficiently well cast and amusing to deserve a shot at gaining enough of an off-season following to earn it a full fall pickup.
The Good Guys, which gets a sneak-preview opening next Wednesday at 8 p.m. (before settling into its regular Monday 8 p.m. time slot) stars Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) and Colin Hanks (Roswell) as a couple of Dallas cops whose decidedly different brands of on-the-job misbehaviour have resulted in their being cast together as partners assigned to handle some of the lowest-priority cases in the Dallas PD's caseload.
Jack Bailey (Hanks) is young, ambitious, smart and, in the eyes of his superiors, a bit too self-impressed for his own good. His habit of criticizing his bosses' investigative techniques and correcting the spelling and grammar on their written reports has irked them to the point that they simply don't want to deal with him any more.
Their solution to the arrogant-upstart problem is to give him the petty-theft cases nobody else cares about; just to make sure he knows he's being punished, they also partner him with Dan Stark (Whitford), departmental castoff who carries the double-whammy deficit of being well past his prime while still living off long-ago (like, maybe, '70s-era) crimebusting glories.
These days, Dan mostly drinks and/or sleepwalks his way through the day, trying to hang onto his shield long enough to earn a semi-dignified retirement. When he learns he's assigned to help Jack investigate the theft of a dehumidifier from a local woman's apartment, well, you can imagine how little energy he can summon to even pretend that he cares.
Once on the "crime" scene, however, Dan's interest is piqued -- the victim of this exceedingly minor crime is an affection-starved cougar (stylishly played by guest star Nia Vardalos) who actually remembers Dan from his hotshot days as Dallas's most heroic detective.
While Dan does some in-depth "interviewing" of the victim, Jack gathers the few clues that he can; it soon becomes clear that this minor case actually has ties to a major international drug-smuggling operation -- which means the pair's bosses immediately turn the investigation over to a better-skilled team.
Dan, however, has other ideas; through his perpetual self-induced fog, he offers Jack some retro-cop advice on how to crack a case and become a precinct hero. It's a pretty silly plan, but then again, The Good Guys is a deliberately silly show, and what follows is a bunch of cop-caper careening that is pretty wild, a lot of fun and, at times, actually quite wildly funny.
It's hard to say, at this point, how seriously Fox is willing to consider The Good Guys as a potential player in its long-term prime-time lineup, but Whitford and Hanks are as appealing in this summer throwaway as any co-starring duo the network has in its regular-season schedule.
The Good Guys are good enough. Give 'em a chance.
TV worth watching
Survivor: Heroes vs Villains (Sunday at 7 p.m., CBS/Global) -- Just when it seemed they were in complete control of this all-star edition of the enduring castaway competition, the villains lived up to their label and started stabbing each other in the back. The two-hour finale will reveal which of them -- or of the few remaining heroes -- survives the final tribal-council vote. The inevitable live reunion follows.
Summer Heights High (Sunday at midnight, Comedy) -- This imported Australian comedy, a followup to the just-completed We Can Be Heroes, takes a faux-documentary approach to examining the lives of the students and teaching staff at a very-average Aussie high school. Series creator/writer Chris Lilley plays multiple onscreen roles.
TV on DVD
Kate & Allie: The Complete Series (release date: May 4) -- One of the most unheralded sitcom success stories of the '80s -- which starred Jane Curtin and Susan Saint James as lifelong friends who become single-mom roommates in Greenwich Village after their respective divorces are finalized -- finally finds its way into the box-set marketplace with this package that includes all 122 episodes.
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