Despite a terrible marketing campaign for The Good Guys (formerly known as Jack & Dan, then known as Code Five Eight) I had been so super excited for this show for both the casting and the way they hyped up Bradley Whitford's moustache. I don't know what it was about the 'stache that grabbed me - it was hypnotic. When the show made it to air, it was even more intense, the way the show blew by I had to lean in to make sure I didn't miss a trick.
They set quite a precedent in breakneck storytelling with the pilot, leading me to think that maintaining the pace and density of the show is going to be a serious challenge. The pilot almost seemed like it was a two or even three hour episode crammed into 46 minutes. The plot was practically moving in three dimensions with subplots flying back in time, across town, and then back to the here & now, making like 6 things happen in the space of 2 minutes. It does all this without being crowded though. Things were just...efficient.
The essence of the show is two Dallas cops enduring an open-ended punishment by being constantly saddled with inane routine investigations and mundane calls. Detective Stark (Bradley Whitford) is being punished for being a drunken mess (and the prototype for policing from an age long past), while Detective Bailey (Colin Hanks) is being made to suffer for being an incorrigible smart-ass. These frivolous cases are likely to blossom into something larger and more sinister (while still remaining funny).
For instance, the pilot begins with a clumsy break-in where the hapless thief only manages to abscond with a humidifier which he takes back to the pawn shop he operates. Elsewhere in Dallas, a Mexican drug mule decides to turn on his boss and makes off with a whole pile of money and drugs and heads straight to the plastic surgeon to get cut to look like Erik Estrada. During the procedure, a freak accident causes the operating room to explode, killing the drug mule and his henchmen which leads the plastic surgeon to call his friend, the hapless criminal from the pawn shop to dispose of the bodies.
Meanwhile Detectives Stark and Bailey are called in to investigate the humidifier case which leads them to the local pawn shop (yes, the thief's pawn shop). Unbeknownst to everyone, the drug kingpin who was stiffed by his mule has sent in his number 2 assassin to recover his money and drugs, with the hitman kidnapping the plastic surgeon who then spills his guts about the pawn shop guy, which leads him to the pawn shop and a gun battle with the detectives. Even more unbeknownst to everyone, it turns out that the traitorous drug mule didn't die in that freak accident and is still out for his money, looking less like Erik Estrada and more like a guy who was blown up and left for dead in a car for a few days. I think all of this only brings us to the halfway mark and there are still plenty of twists to come.
I'm sure there's a high degree of skepticism (or Cynicism? Booyah!) at what a cop show at Fox of all places has offer that people haven't already seen. But there's a few twists in The Good Guys' presentation to help it stand apart from the herd. One of them being that it is stuff we've all seen before...back in the 70's. The retro look and style of the narrative seem to be in the spirit of Starsky & Hutch, yet not the least bit straight faced and completely self-aware. This kind of self-awareness is further demonstrated through some of the uncanny connections the actors have with the world outside the show. As a believer in the nature of pop-culture being a living, breathing and ever-expanding entity, I love this kind of interconnected stuff. Here's a few examples:
When Detective Dan Stark (Bradley Whitford) first lays eyes on the Camaro I can only hope will be making a return appearance, on comes Billy Squire's The Stroke, much like when Billy Madison rolls up for his first day back in high school in his almost identical Camaro. And who played the bad guy in Billy Madison? None other than future West Wing star Bradley Whitford.
As Detective Jack Bailey (Colin Hanks) is introduced to us, it becomes clear that he is a smartalec knowitall by the numbers cop, much in the same vein of Detective Joe Friday from Dragnet. And who played Joe Friday's partner in the feature film? The Man With One Red Shoe himself, Tom Hanks.
And who should they choose as their guest star? Nia Vardalos, who rose to fame after writing and starring in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. And who was that film financed by? Colin Hanks' stepmother, Rita Wilson.
What does all that mean? Absolutely nothing. It certainly has no bearing on the show itself, it's just really strange.
The Good Guys begins its first season run this Monday night on Global - that's Fox to my American cousins.