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Matt Nix's 'The Good Guys' Rocks Cop Dramas, Dallas and 'Staches

by Danny Gallagher, posted May 18th 2010 10:08AM
Colin Hanks and Bradley Whitford, stars of the new Fox cop comedy Cop shows have been in serious need of a humor transfusion. Ever since the hard nosed days of 'Dragnet" in which Joe Friday would lecture young punks on the dangers of drug use, grand theft and bad grammar, cop shows have always had a hard time finding the funny in the lives of the boys and girls in blue. Although, 'Cop Rock' made me laugh harder than most of the sitcoms of the '80s, but I'm sure that wasn't intentional.

It's easier said than done. Police work is dirty business and mining it for humor is like trying to find hay in a needle stack. It's possible but you still have to dig through loads of misery and suffering that comes with every shield for that one lone nugget of comedy hidden in the pain pile.

'Burn Notice' creator Matt Nix has found it. 'The Good Guys,' premiering Wednesday on Fox, offers a fresh take on the buddy cop comedy that does for police shows what Thomas Magnum did for bushy mustaches: made them hilariously cool.

This time, the cop show turns its attention to the Dallas Police Department, specifically on two hard working officers, Jack Bailey, played by Colin Hanks, and Dan Stark, played by Bradley Whitford.

They are considered difficult for various reasons. Jack is a stickler for procedure whether it is the proper method for subduing a suspect or the proper use of a gerund in a spoken sentence. Dan is his polar opposite, an old fashioned, hard drinking tough cop who longs for the days when high-powered Pontiacs were a sign of male virility instead of a sign of a low credit score and jumping out of a moving vehicle was par for the policeman's course. Dan is juiced in because he famously saved the governor's son and no one in the DPD wants to deal with Jack's extreme anal-retentiveness, so they are stuck together in the dingiest corner of the department aka "property crimes."

Their polar opposite personalities and approach to law enforcement make them a volatile mix for the department's chief, Lt. Ana Ruiz, played by Diane-Maria Riva, and that makes them twice as entertaining to watch. Their mix of old and new school police procedure gives a fresh perspective from the usual line-up of cop shows that tend to focus on one side or the other. Jack always insists on using new technologies to research suspects and analyze crime scene samples whereas Dan would rather just lead with his gut, which is usually filled with a sloshy soup of beer and whiskey.

"We didn't need a computer," Dan says to Jack as he recalls an old theft case he broke with one of his many old partners. "We just had a hunch and we started cutting open sock monkeys."

Dan lives by the credo that there are "no small crimes, only small cops," so every minor theft and burglary report is treated with the intensity of a presidential assassination plot. Of course, Dan's hunches for small crimes leading to bigger misdeeds tend to pay off more than one might think, so the plot weaves an interesting path of clues and coincidences from minor thefts to major malfeasance. The premiere episode starts with the report of a simple humidor but a trip to a seedy pawn shop quickly turns into a shooting match that leads Jack and Dan down a much darker path of plots, perps and paperwork.

And even though the two main characters are pseudo-cliches of good and bad cops, they are bi-polar parodies of the usual suspects. Much like the characters on Nix's other project, they have complex and deep psyches that motivate their actions and flavor their dialogue in funny and interesting ways. Even the typical characters like the angry police chief are replaced with the even-toned but firm lieutenant and the raging district attorney is replaced with the smart but sassy Liz Traynor, played by 'Reaper's' Jenny Wade.

Even its style feels relatively fresh for the likes of prime time television. The soundtrack is a mix of whiskey soaked classic rock like Foghat and alternative rock like The Fratellis that turns the whole production into a loose small screen spin-off of the Edgar Wright buddy cop comedy flick 'Hot Fuzz' if Simon Pegg grew a huge, bushel sized "man-stache."

In fact, everything about the show is fresh from the funny and weaving plot lines to the duo's choice of a "crime-mobile." It makes fun of other shows without letting the joke overtake the script and it still manages to create an interesting pseudo-drama by not sacrificing the heaviness of the job.

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una

I already had decided to watch it anyway, because of Whitford. But now I really, really look forward to it. And I agree with Marty: this is an excellent review. Not too happy with the relaunch of the site, but stuff like that is certainly a reason to continue to stop by.

May 19 2010 at 8:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nicki Stache

I will wach for the man-staches alone!

May 18 2010 at 2:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chasingclerks

Woot...finally another show filmed and set in Dallas. :)

May 18 2010 at 11:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
George

I'll watch 'The Good Guys' on the strength of the acting and creative talent behind it, but it's making me wish 'The Unusuals' had gotten a better shot.

May 18 2010 at 11:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David Holtzinger

From the moment I first saw the previews for 'The Good Guys' I thought it had a familiar look and feel; Beverly Hills Cop sans Eddie Murphy. I think I'll like this show and am looking forward to watching it this week.

May 18 2010 at 11:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Marty

An excellent review and the best piece of writing I've seen on this site in a long time. Bravo! Keep it up, Danny.

May 18 2010 at 10:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Marty's comment
Danny Gallagher

Thanks a lot. It's mucho appreciated.

May 19 2010 at 8:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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