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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Good Guys: "Don't Tase Me, Bro!"

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Maybe it's the fact that The Good Guys is going to go away for a month or so after tonight. Maybe it's the fact that I've come to like the show quite a bit, almost in spite of myself. Or maybe it's the fact that this was a well-written and constructed episode filled with some great laughs. But I'm going to miss The Good Guys while it's gone, and I think it's too bad that it's heading away right when it's developed a bit of creative momentum. I'm still pretty sure this is a dead show walking (launching this show in the summer was probably a bad idea), but I'm glad that Fox has taken a chance on it and, apparently, completed a full season. I don't know that we'll ever get to see the full season or anything (outside of DVD), but the show has turned into a casually amusing treat, and I don't think I've given it enough credit for that.

Let's start with the things that irritated me because I wouldn't be me if we didn't start there. I kind of wish TV writers had never heard of the word "sexting," as it's one of those words (and/or concepts) they seem to think is inherently hilarious and worth coasting off of. Now, granted, this wasn't all that important to the plot, but it did take up the bulk of one of the Jack and Dan scenes, and those scenes are the lifeblood of the show. In general, it often seems like TV writers are cranky about new technology, and this episode was pretty lazy about its depiction of cell phones, YouTube, amateur video, and any number of other things in that regard. It certainly didn't hamper my enjoyment of the show (at all, really), but it's the kind of minor complaint I get paid to make.

On the other hand, I really enjoyed where the "Dan tases Jack" plotline ended up once the video was online. Everybody else in the precinct making fun of Jack was amusing, and the fact that the video footage ended up being the thing that re-alerted the men Mike (the initial target of the investigation) was alive and well in Dallas was something I didn't see coming. I like the way this plot basically ditched the initial crime that Dan and Jack were investigating as soon as humanly possible, all the better to play around in a world of goofy mobsters and a master hitman played by Todd Louiso, not to mention Dan's ultimate woman ever, played by Lola Glaudini.

I've been complaining about the variable quality of the guest cast for a while now, but this episode was inestimably helped by having a really solid series of day players. Glaudini used her hard edges to maximum effect as the woman who was tasked with keeping Mike safe once his cover was blown, and she was fantastic opposite Bradley Whitford, who did his damnedest to throw her off her game. She was instantly more compelling than either of the regular female characters, largely because she could play along and wasn't just present to nag the guys about what they were or weren't doing correctly. (Though, to be fair, Liz got some fun stuff to play in this episode, suggesting, again, what Jack saw in her beyond the fact that she's played by Jenny Wade.) A woman who's basically a more competent, female version of Dan Stark? That's a character the show could get a lot of mileage out of, and I hope she comes back soon. And Louiso was an inspired choice for The Duke, which could have been a throwaway part but became so much more interesting when played against type, as a hardened killer who was also sort of world weary and got phone calls berating him to ask if he'd remembered to feed the cat.

The nice thing about this storyline was that it kept piling on elements, until the plot at the center of the episode ran ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP, but it never grew too unwieldy or so big that it lost track of the characters at its center. The main gangster guy in the bar in Boston popped up only when needed, and, again, thanks to good casting, it was always easy to remember just who he was supposed to be. The show could cut away to Boston or back to the precinct or to the perils of Mike and his wife, and it would always be obvious just where the story was at that point in time and where it was headed to in the next few moments. Even the clockwork plotting, flipping back and forth between the past and present, didn't get in the way of story or the jokes. It was just a clean, elegant little episode that suggests the series is, indeed, figuring out ways to tell stories that are more than just goofy, ironic twists on '80s cop show plots.

I know that I've been complaining about this show a lot, to the consternation of many of you. But that's only because I do think it's capable of episodes like this, where the plot and jokes and acting all work together and create something that's, yes, over the top, but not so far over the top that it doesn't have at least a big toe on the ground. Coming up with a TV series is all about figuring out ways to do stories within your universe that are fun but also stories that increase interest in your characters and situations. The Good Guys has been pretty good at the fun part but not as good at justifying just why, exactly, these particular characters needed to be the center of a TV show. With "Don't Tase Me, Bro!" the show started to point toward an answer to that quandary.


Stray observations:

  • Funny moment: Dan sitting there and licking his Taser.
  • I have no idea if we're going to be covering this show in the fall. On the one hand, it's really picking up. On the other hand, there's a lot of other stuff going on in the fall, and this show may not have the audience to justify continuing with the write-ups. I'll definitely do something on the fall premiere, though.
  • Fox's Running Wilde promos are getting kind of obnoxious. I wonder if there's a reason they're hiding footage from the show …
  • I was gonna go with a B+ on this, but in honor of the show going away for a while and in honor of how much the episode made me laugh, let's go with an A-. This is probably close to the very best episode this show could do, the very peak of its fun at all costs formula.
  • This week's "Gee, Colin Hanks really looks like his dad, doesn't he?" moment came in the scene where he was flirting with Liz at the VERY end. Everything about him in that scene screamed of his dad in his classic romantic comedies.
  • I would gladly watch a series about Todd Louiso as a mob hitman who's constantly dealing with his mother's inability to understand her many remotes.
  • "Best way to beat an ambush is to pre-ambush."
  • "You get to not touch a woman and get some typing in. That's two of my least favorite things right there."
  • "I'm sorry you screamed like a girl when I shot you with my toy plastic gun."
  • "It's like you're looking in a mirror, and the hottest woman in the world is staring right back at you."
  • "A stand-up guy who happened to see a loan shark get buried alive in a concrete building foundation …"
  • "Gentrification kiss my ass!"
  • "I will listen to you and hold you and I will wax your righteous legs."
  • "I'm not sure that love is going to get us through this situation, Dan."