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TV Review: The Good Guys Ends First (Only?) Season

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FOX’s The Good Guys was a summer show that got a rare treat when seven additional episodes were ordered for this fall. Sadly, the series looks poised for cancellation, although no official word has been handed down. Certainly the show will not have any other new episodes this television season, as none have been ordered at this time, and they’ve already aired twenty in the last six months. Still, as much as I enjoy The Good Guys, I can’t decide if I’m hoping for its survival.

The problem with The Good Guys is its silliness, which is also the best reason to watch. Pretty much every episode, Detectives Dan Stark (Bradley Whitford) and Jack Bailey (Colin Hanks) investigate some petty crime, in the case of this week, a dine and dash. Inevitably, events snowball, and without even realizing it, they are soon taking down murderers, dirty cops, jewel thieves, and the like. Entertaining? Absolutely. As I said in an earlier review, Whitford appears to be having the most fun he’s ever had in his acting career and that enthusiasm is infectious. But even suspending normal disbelief, as has to be done for any TV show, this one stretches the bounds of believability. How can that same bumbling scenario play out over and over again and still feel fresh?

Not the show is not devoid of hope. There are glimmers that the people that make it realize their premise is limited, and have tried to add other distracting elements. Great guest casting, such as Joshua Malina (The West Wing) as an Internal Affairs agent bent on bringing down Stark, Chris Klein (American Pie) as Bailey’s former partner turned deputy chief who is on the take, and especially Gary Cole (Entourage, The West Wing) as Stark’s former partner Frank Savage, has helped. But how long can stunt casting really keep a show afloat before it becomes an obvious ploy?

I think the main issue if that there are truly only two interesting characters: Jack and Dan. Early on they clashed, providing some good human drama. Now they’ve settled into a firm, loyal partnership, so that tension is gone. They’re still fun, but their actions and decisions have become obvious, taking away suspense. For most of the series, Jack pined for assistant district attorney Liz (Reaper‘s wonderful Jenny Wade), but now that they’re together, that is gone, too, and Liz often feels unnecessary and cumbersome to the rest of the plot. I also adore Diana Maria Riva, who plays Jack and Dan’s boss, Lieutenant Ruiz. Unfortunately, she rarely gets to do anything much, with the recent exception being in the peeping tom episode. Using her more could go a long way towards salvaging things.

Because of the stagnant four main characters, others have been added to spice things up. Early fan favorite snitch Julius (RonReaco Lee) returned for a total of eleven episodes, and originally always brought something new to the table, though even he was becoming stale near the end of the season. In the second half, Samantha (Angela Sarafyn) showed up, who was a police ally / assistant and a possible love interest for Jack. Perhaps the gun was jumped when Sam waited until after Jack and Liz got together to kiss him. However, should the show get a second season, it would not be surprising at all to see Jack and Samantha as an item, for awhile at least.

I’m not a hater of this show, far from it. But I began getting bored after twenty episodes, and perhaps this is one show that would have benefited from a nice, long hiatus in the middle of the season, though they only got six weeks. If it does return next summer or fall, I will probably get excited again, as I will definitely miss The Good Guys after awhile. But unless something is done to seriously shake things up and change the rules of the game, it will grow old much faster in the second batch. Not only that, a shake up may kill the series, because it relies on a formula, and abandoning the formula is a serious risk.

Perhaps this would have worked better as a miniseries or a set of TV movies. The talent level is high, but the magic is just not there in a sustainable way over the long term. Awesome concept that didn’t work so well when drawn out. As a twenty episode series, it will be fondly remembered. If it becomes a forty episode run, fans may not stay so enamored. The good news is, should The Good Guys get the ax, the actors should not stay unemployed too long.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome is the creator and writer of It's All Been Done Radio Hour, a modern scripted live comedy show and podcast in the style of old-timey radio serials, and the founder of the Columbus-based entertainment network, IABDPresents. He is also the Chief Television Critic for Seat42F.com and a long-time contributor for Blogcritics. Plus, he works fiction into his space time. Visit http://iabdpresents.com for more of his work.
  • Opal

    Are you serious Bradley Whitford fits his character perfectly, especially the mustache.

  • Gerard mallari

    First of all the moustache is not the macho and playboy as he claims to be. He looks like a retired mailman. Colin hanks fits the character. I suggest that they get Sam Elliot he fits perfectly!

  • kooky1

    The Good Guys is so much fun, and better than most hour long series. I don’t see how it’s anymore predictable or reliant on formula than any other action series. Bet the ratings would improve if it came on after Raising Hope.

  • Well said!

  • Chris

    The one big problem with the show is that it was rushed. The producers and the stars seem, as a result of cancellation rumours, to be getting too close to their fans and there was a very obvious point in the series (when Gary Cole was introduced as Bradley Whitford’s ex-partner) where everyone seemed to realize that the show’s future was in serious doubt and instead of letting the story play out gradually through the episodes, things seemed rushed in order to give devoted fans some closure. As a result, the Samantha/Jack angle never had time to really develop and got predictable immediately, and Dan’s old partner was pretty much thrown in, not so much as background information to broaden the Jack and Dan characters for the future, but to give fans a chance to see Frank before the show went off air.

    If the show never comes back, that’s the turning point, the switch to Friday nights notwithstanding. If this is the end, the show went out with a bang, and what made it more special is its insight. Dan Stark realizes something Frank Savage figured out a long time ago – they’re both relics of the past, regrettably from a time long forgotten. And if that’s the case, if nobody understands them, you can have your computer machine. I’m going out to bust some punks. The final episode was indeed a crowd pleasure if you’ve invested in the show emotionally, but it may have hurt the show long term by messing with continuity and timing. Liz had no time to be jealous of “lab tech girl,” and now everything ends with everyone living happily ever after. I’m still hoping for a new season, a Dan and Ruiz hook up and more from the Samantha/Jack/Liz love triangle. I’ll take the cheese over these shows that seem devoted to preaching to me about some social injustice. Good Guys reminds us that things don’t have to be this way. It’s all in our attitude.

  • You’re right that just because they had their finale doesn’t mean it’s looking canceled. However, ratings were very low, and a the network has shown no inclination to pick up any more episodes, so if you do a google search and read the opinions of people who routinely predict these things, the odds are not in The Good Guys favor.

  • Mike

    This show is kickass by my standard regardless of what anyone says. It brings comedy and action together in a completely original package. There’s no other show like this. It definitely needs to keep going.

    Also, to the author: The 20th episode was the Season Finale, that means there are definitely no other episodes this Fall or Winter, and it doesn’t mean it’s looking to be cancelled.

  • Filmaholics? I am not familiar. Is that just an advertisement?

  • Bundy

    This review is just like the one written over a month ago on filmaholics.net

    Check it out today!

  • Good Guy

    I love the Good Guys… There just isn’t enough shows with this kind of comedy. The show may be a little predictable, but at the end of the day, the viewer likes to know that the crime is solved and the main characters are safe and happy (at least until the next episode when they get into some other funny/crazy situations). It would be an absolute shame to discontinue this show. I have seen Fox keep shows that are WAY worse than this one, so I am sure that Fox can afford to keep this show on AT LEAST another full season. What should happen, is they can take the positive aspects of the show and then build from that for the next season. And if they could get another time slot during the week besides the TV ghetto (Friday night), then I am sure their numbers would increase. We need The Good Guys on TV!