Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pilot Review: The Good Guys

The Good Guys (FOX)
Premiered May 19 at 8pm

The first series of the 2010-2011 season to premiere (even though the season doesn’t officially start for a few weeks) is hardly a hopeful sign of what’s to come. This is a show that, as predicted by the previews, seems like it’s trying to be bad, and trying hard. There are infinite jokes to be made about the show not living up to its title, but I’ll forgo them all in favor of pointing out why the pilot episode was such a miserable experience. There’s an attempt to make the show stylized by accompanying every identifying title card that comes up on screen with the annoying sound of a gunshot, and the story is told out of sequence with multiple flashbacks to “18 hours earlier” in the first episode to clarify some misconception on a given character’s part. Bradley Whitford’s Dan doesn’t like computers and yearns to return to the good old days of the 1980s. That concept feels more than a bit outdated, and Dan incessantly regales his tormented partner with long stories of his adventures with his former partner and tired metaphors about what cops are like. One thing that the series achieves majestically is establishing empathy for Colin Hanks’ Jack, enabling to feel Jack’s pain and want to punch Dan in the face every time he speaks just as much as his partner does. Dan’s occasional accent doesn’t help matters much. The cops shooting with two guns instead of one doesn’t make much sense, and having the two top assassins in the world featured in the first episode begs the question, what’s in store for the rest of this show? There is one good line – “have you ever heard of good cop, sick cop?” – but otherwise this show is chock full of absurdly cartoonish villains and devastatingly bad plotting. The random “special appearance” by Nia Vardalos of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” fame is peculiar at best. The lone positive takeaway from the pilot is Jenny Wade (“Reaper,” “The Strip”) as the Assistant D.A. and former girlfriend of Jack. It’s great to have her around, though I’d love to leave her accent behind. Regarding its two protagonists, this show even seems to get a little bored of them by the end of the pilot, when they head off and leave the assassins to shoot themselves, as if the “good guys” don’t even matter anymore. That certainly doesn’t recommend much about these protagonists.

How will it work as a series? There can be many cases, sure, but they’re likely to be just as stupid as this one. Keeping the team relegated to minor crimes should ensure that they’re constantly trying to break free from the boundaries set upon them by their supervising lieutenant, and that shtick will get old pretty quickly. There’s a small enough cast on this show that there isn’t much room for them to move around too much, which might make this feel like far too small a world.
How long will it last? It’s difficult to predict how the summer will treat this show, especially since ABC is premiering a slew of shows to air this summer while only cable networks usually produce new episodes. FOX hasn’t had any trouble letting low-rated shows persist through the summer, like “The Inside” a couple of years ago, but I can’t see this show making it all the way to Friday at 9pm timeslot on FOX’s fall schedule.

Pilot grade: F

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