Monday, October 17, 2011

The Good Guys (Season 1)


An extremely entertaining show. The antics of police detectives Jack Bailey and Dan Stark as they investigate property crimes in the greater Dallas area may be highly improbable (every two-bit crime ends up leading them to more substantial bad guys), but they are most definitely hilarious. 

Bradley Whitford (who I've never much liked, on account of he always plays such jerky characters) seems to be having an absolute blast as he fully embodies seventies throwback Dan Stark, complete with 'stache, shades, Trans Am, and an Airstream trailer he affectionately dubs the "aluminum love cradle."  Colin Hanks is shaping up to be a decent actor, and his intelligent, by-the-book cop is an excellent foil for Whitford's insane stunts. 

The supporting cast helps a lot as well--their lieutenant strikes a good compromise between frustration and tolerance, as Dan Stark's shenanigans, though always unorthodox and often expensive, usually do get the bad guy.  The duo's put-upon snitch Julius is amusing, and Assistant District Attorney (and Jack's ex) Liz Traynor is full of down-home Southern charm.  I was underwhelmed by constant butt-of-the-joke fellow detective Hodges, but you can't have everything. 

The show is in many ways reminiscent of USA Network favorite Psych--a wild star (though admittedly Dan takes his role as crime fighter much more seriously than fake psychic detective Shawn Spencer), a reluctant partner, a bunch of supporting cast members who, despite all the insanity and conflict, seem to genuinely like each other.  I wonder if this show would have fared better on USA, where audiences know to suspend disbelief and simply enjoy the characters' interactions.

Now for the criticisms.


For the first half of the season, I did not like Liz Traynor's character.  I don't have much sympathy for women who dump their boyfriends and then start dating someone else while still using the ex (who is clearly not over them) as a shoulder to cry on, a confidant, and a bar buddy.  Go find someone else to get drinks with.  Because when you hang around Jack all day, it sure looks like you're keeping him in the wings (and preventing him from moving on) just so you have someone to fall back on if new boyfriend doesn't work out.  Which is precisely what happens.  And which is a jerky thing to do.  But her character is not presented as a jerk, so the whole situation didn't really work.

Also, I absolutely hated the resolution of the penultimate episode.  It was only a matter of time before Internal Affairs came after Dan, and I suppose it makes a fair amount of sense that the IAB officer in charge might have a vendetta against Dan and anyone who helps him.  And in order to resolve this conflict, it makes a certain amount of sense for Dan to have to save the IAB officer's life in an unorthodox way, so that the IAB officer is grateful and has an excuse to drop the investigation.  All fine--no problems there.  But when you have Dan Stark saving the life of the jerkface IAB officer in such a way that his (Dan Stark's) trailer gets blown up, and all his earthly possessions are destroyed, including possibly his dog (this is never dealt with), you cannot simply have the IAB officer say, "Thanks for saving my life, I'll drop the investigation, we are now even" and walk away.  That is not an equitable resolution, nor is it a happy ending.  The issue of Dan's new digs is never addressed.  Granted, there was only one more episode, but still.  Huge untidy mess of plot right there.  And quite frustrating to this viewer.


All in all, though, the show is a ton of fun with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.  And honestly, that's enough for me.

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