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The Return Of The Buddy Cop Show

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The Return Of The Buddy Cop Show

The Good Guys - FOX

Photo by: ©2010 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Michael Lavine/FOX

The buddy cop dynamic has been around for ages.  Perfected in the 80’s with films like “Lethal Weapon” and “48 Hrs.,” it has been imitated, celebrated and spoofed.  The buddy cop pairing has been successful on TV too — “Miami Vice,” “I Spy,” and “Starsky and Hutch” were some of the prime examples of the genre, but if you look at those three examples, one thing you start to notice — the buddy cop show hasn’t really had much presence in TV for many years.  Cop shows became gritty and real, like “NYPD Blue” and “The Shield.” 

   By : SHAWNA BENSON

The buddy cop dynamic has been around for ages.  Perfected in the 80’s with films like “Lethal Weapon” and “48 Hrs.,” it has been imitated, celebrated and spoofed.  The buddy cop pairing has been successful on TV too — “Miami Vice,” “I Spy,” and “Starsky and Hutch” were some of the prime examples of the genre, but if you look at those three examples, one thing you start to notice — the buddy cop show hasn’t really had much presence in TV for many years.  Cop shows became gritty and real, like “NYPD Blue” and “The Shield.”  

The Good Guys - FOX

Photo by: ©2010 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Michael Lavine/FOX

Enter “The Good Guys,” the light, frothy procedural produced by Matt Nix, creator of “Burn Notice.”  Like “Burn Notice” “The Good Guys” is a fun take on the cop show, reveling in the silliness of some of its situations and winking to the audience as it goes.  Since we are in on the joke – that these two cops exist in a fantasy world where guppy-sized crimes always lead to a bigger law-breaking fish – we are allowed to sit back and laugh at the titular “good guys” Dan Stark (Bradley Whitford) and Jack Bailey (Colin Hanks).  Set in Dallas, “The Good Guys” is a throwback to the great 80’s cop shows, staged in our present day world of technology and forensic science.  

Usually we’d expect to see Whitford as the yuppie in the suit, but not this time.  Stark is, threatened by computers and DNA — he wants to hit the street and work a case like it’s still 1985.  He is, as Whitford describes him, a “male, mustachioed, zipper-booted” relic who still thinks he’s the top cop in the department.  The reality is of course, quite the opposite.  Stark is still around by virtue of the fact he saved the Governor’s son back in his heyday, insuring him with a job for life.  

He’s too dangerous to leave to his own devices (and vices, Stark’s the kind of cop who drinks on the job and fights authority at every turn), so Bailey, a smart young cop who has made one mistake too many in the political minefield of the precinct, has been saddled with Stark as his punishment.

Of course, there’s no show if they don’t find trouble, which they do while investigating a stolen humidifier in the first episode.  From that seemingly insignificant crime the partners find themselves tracking down a drug dealer who wants to look like Erik Estrada and the second greatest assassin (the best assassin was busy at a film festival), who is quick with his guns and his wit.  

If there’s one potential weak point of the show it’s that Whitford (and his crazy old school mustache) is larger than life, typically larger than anyone else on the screen.  Hanks is likable, but he has the unenviable job of being buttoned up and passive, even though his Bailey is a more skilled cop than Stark.  The leading ladies, Jenny Wade (as a D.A. and Bailey’s ex) and Diana Maria Riva (as their boss) are funny in their own right, but fade into the background for most of the pilot.  The show belongs to Whitford, and he takes advantage of his opportunity, breaking out of his “Sorkin shell” and letting loose.

“The Good Guys” makes for great summer viewing – a light and likable show that won’t require a guidebook (a la LOST) or a lobotomy.

THE GOOD GUYS previewing Wednesday May 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX

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