“Tribeca can’t shake the feeling that the cause of a 102-year-old’s death isn’t as natural as others believe, but her concerns fall on deaf ears. Why? She’s on probation after that whole data breach snafu. Also something about an election…?”
“A Coldie But A Goodie” is a perfectly fine episode of Angie Tribeca, which is pretty much its “downfall.” When a show is as good as Angie Tribeca or hits its stride as well as the series has in its past couple of episodes, something like “perfectly fine” sounds like the sharpest blow one can ever give it. But for all the good of the series’ new approach in its second season, it was always bound to hit a snag in terms of the story it’s telling; “A Coldie But A Goodie” just so happens to be that snag. After a big episode like “You’ve Got Blackmail,” this week is more transitional than anything else. And while that’s a necessary evil, it’s still also quite a drop-off in overall quality. It’s a good episode of television, but there have simply been better episodes of Angie Tribeca.
Basically, when an Angie Tribeca episode synopsis captures the entire vibe of the episode (“Also something about an election…?”), that doesn’t exactly lead to an all-time great.
It is an episode with a strong concept though: You can’t go wrong with an Internal Affairs story, and Angie Tribeca takes what it’s learned about IA from every other procedural (you can’t trust them because they don’t trust anyone) and runs with it to the show’s typical extremes. The cold open alone makes the entire plot worth it with its mood lighting (or lack thereof) and its increase in smoke. Plus, Mary McCormack (who spent years as the Tribeca of her own procedural, In Plain Sight) wins as IA Agent Abigail Liukin; while Heather Graham’s FBI Agent Diane Duran works as a foil to Tribeca in terms of what is and what could be, Liukin works in terms of providing a thorn in Tribeca’s side, like Kerri Kenney-Silver did in last season’s “Ferret Royale.” The only time her appearance everywhere doesn’t quite work is when she appears in Tribeca’s coffee, and even then, Angie Tribeca is a weird enough show that it’s still possible to accept it (kind of).
But Angie Tribeca getting its source material right has never been the problem, and that remains the case even here. The series again invokes the spirit of season one’s terrific “Tribeca’s Day Off,” as Tribeca technically isn’t supposed to work—this time, with desk duty as the enforcer—and Geils, Tanner, and Hoffman find themselves on a case investigating a cult (don’t drink the Kool-Aid) together. Only now, there’s more of a direction for Angie Tribeca in terms of a bigger picture. But while “Tribeca’s Day Off” succeeded due to (and could get by on) season one’s humor as the driving force, “A Coldie But A Goodie” suffers from a lack of momentum within the actual story. The most important part of the episode is the revelation that the entire Mayhem Global situation is all about removing Mayor Perry from office, but with every sight gag, it’s abundantly clear the episode is treading water outside of the actual reveal.
There are obviously funny moments in this episode—that’s a given, after all. The cold open’s aforementioned increasing smoke budget; Tribeca’s back double, as well as her schlepping her desk up and down the precinct; the idea that six days is enough time to be over an old person’s death. It’s all pretty stupid in that Angie Tribeca way, especially with all of the pseudo-science surrounding the “reanimation” of the deceased corpses, and that continues in the final moments with the perp Bob Terrier (Matt Malloy) trying his hardest to push Geils down some stairs. (He tries really hard, you guys.) Angie Tribeca doesn’t actually ever take time off its jokes, but sometimes it’s apparent which ones the show can do in its sleep (Edelweiss’ weirdness and the general concept of old people being old) and which ones it actually knocks out of the park when you least expect it (“I don’t want to hear another word!” “…smigno.”). And despite the conspiracy, the actual case on the books (the one about the cult) is more interesting than the eventually-revealed case that Tribeca works on. Most cases about cults are instantly the more interesting cases on any show.
But the major difference between “A Coldie But A Goodie” and the stellar “You’ve Got Blackmail” (or even “Beach Blanket Sting-O”) is that nothing really happens in the episode, even for Angie Tribeca. There’s the beat of Geils being upset over Tribeca using his feelings for her against him—and it wins because of the stereotypical way in which he randomly forgives her—but the episode takes a slow approach both in terms of characterization and the jokes. We now know that Mayhem Global wants to take down Mayor Perry, and that’s good… But all of Tribeca’s satisfied, episode-ending head nods don’t make the episode any fuller. Angie Tribeca can technically get away with being flighty and having a small amount of information come out of it, but compared to the rest of the episodes in this season, there’s a weakness to that approach.
Plus, “grandpa, no one cares that you were blacklisted.” No, ageism isn’t what hinders this episode, but the fact that “old people” are a driving force of the plot but don’t actually have an active voice in it feels like a big part of why “A Coldie But A Goodie” feels off. More old people, please.
- As I mentioned in this week’s Monday What’s On Tonight, this is the last review of Angie Tribeca for TV Club. This season has been perfect for weekly coverage… but actually, I guess it hasn’t. If you ever want to talk about the show, of course, you know where to find me.
- Because I know you guys are the type who will care: “Tubthumping” is Geils’ ringtone, “This Is How We Do It” is Tanner’s, and “Regulate” is Hoffman’s. Hoffman continues to be the best.
- Is it bad to say that Childrens Hospital did the “call the newspaper” joke better in its final season episode “Doctor Beth”? Both are great, but…
- Lieutenant: “I am $80,000 into a boat with major plumbing problems!” The Lieutenant’s retirement boat saga continues.
- Tribeca: “I know what you’re gonna say: Drop it. Let it go. Just come out already, it gets better.”