Netflix Review – The Good Cop: Season 1

Tony Danza is a very endearing guy when he’s performing. From Taxi to Who’s the Boss? to The Tony Danza Show, he’s always at least somewhat charming.

TheGoodCopS1 - 1TonyDanza

Josh Groban has the voice of an angel and the appearance of a cast member from Revenge of the Nerds.

TheGoodCopS1 - 2JoshGroban
But with far fewer felonies in his film

Netflix decided they should be on a father-son Odd-Couple-esque buddy-cop cop-and-convict whodunit-mystery show. Coincidentally, the price of cocaine has been increasing due to over-consumption.

SUMMARY

Tony Caruso, Sr. (Tony Danza) was formerly a hero cop who, it turns out, was massively corrupt and engaged in a series of widely-publicized scandals that sent him to prison. His son, Tony, Jr. or “TJ” (Josh Groban) is now a police officer renowned for his dedication to the rules, even going to comically enormous lengths to avoid small infractions. As a condition of Tony, Sr.’s recent parole, he is required to live with his son. Naturally, in the pilot, they fight constantly until Big Tony goes back to prison to try to cover for TJ, proving that he really does love him, so they can stay together, yadda yadda yadda.

TheGoodCopS1 - 3Booth.png
One’s in a suit, one lost his pants in a bet. How funny!

As the season goes by Tony Sr. keeps doing crazy semi-legal schemes and TJ gets caught up in them while they solve mysteries together. The supporting cast is: Cora Vasquez (Monica Barbaro), who was Tony Sr.’s parole officer who later becomes a detective under TJ, as well as his love interest; Burl Loomis (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.), an older detective who was a friend of Tony Sr. who is renowned for his policy of “never running”; and Ryan (Bill Rottkamp), an ultra-nerd Tech Crime Analyst for the NYPD whose character was written when we thought Hackers was accurate.

TheGoodCopS1 - 5Cast

END SUMMARY

So, the show was created by the guy who made Monk, Andy Breckman, and it shows. The characters are all quirky as hell, there’s a loose story arc involving Tony Sr.’s dead wife that might get resolved in 9 years, and the mysteries are usually pretty creative. Honestly, the crime-centric episodes were the best, because they were actually decent puzzles and distracted me from how uninteresting the characters are despite the set-up giving so many potentially interesting conflicts. Breckman said, “Many cop shows feature dark and provocative material: psycho-sexual killers, twisted, grim, flawed detectives. Many address the most controversial issues of the day. I watch a lot of them. God bless ’em all. But the show I want to produce is playful, family-friendly, and a celebration of old-fashioned puzzle-solving.” So… mission accomplished?

TheGoodCopS1 - 4Dress.png
Though some of the Hi-Jinks are pretty funny.

It almost bothers me that I actually like this show, because it is bland as hell. Tony Danza and Josh Groban are both likeable and inoffensive (despite the fact that Danza’s character is supposed to be a convicted corrupt cop). Isiah Whitlock and Monica Barbaro are always entertaining when they’re on screen. Nothing about the show ever really gets me upset and it mostly keeps my attention. But it’s just… mediocre. It’s just like many of the seasons of Monk, but without Tony Shalhoub to give an amazing performance. I like it, but I don’t love it. It’s just that everyone involved in it is so loveable I can’t really dislike it either. It’s fun and not challenging to watch, which means that a lot of people will probably love it and I can’t blame them. It’s like a graham cracker – it’s not the most sophisticated snack, but I will eat the entire box and then cry about how I shouldn’t have done that.

TheGoodCopS1 - 6Wedding.png

I will say that some of the episodes had some neat gimmicks, like having a talk-show host who toys with the officers or having the suspect be TJ’s crush, but ultimately it’s pretty middle-of-the-road. I really hope they give the characters some more depth in the future, because I can’t look Josh Groban in the eye and say “I don’t want to watch your show.” It would break his little heart and it’s not his fault.

TheGoodCopS1 - 7Prison.png
I can’t break that heart. It would hurt me “Evermore.”

I do have to add that at the end of the episode, the title card for the next episode plays and it’s spaced so that you can read it before Netflix automatically starts the next episode, which is a great idea and should be duplicated by other series. Good job, whoever did that.

Seriously, though, please add either more comedy or more darkness, because right now it’s just TVpH 7.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Advertisements

28) Reverend Jim: Space Odyssey (Taxi)

Taxi was one of the many traditional sitcoms that revolved around “let’s find an excuse for a bunch of strange characters to converse with each other in a central location.” Gonna give you a second to guess where this one takes place. Most of you probably correctly guessed that it’s the fleet garage of the Sunshine Cab Company, and the cast are Brooks.jpgthe employees. The guys who did this episode, director James Burrows, and Producers the Charles Brothers, would later create another, similar show, called Cheers. The writer of this show, James L. Brooks, wrote several episodes on this list, including the number 1, and, of course, was the guy who helped Matt Groening make the Simpsons. So, you know, there was a lot of talent off-screen.

TaxiCast.jpgOn-screen, Alex Geiger (Judd Hirsch) is the cynical protagonist, and the only one who acknowledges that he drives a cab for a living, and not for a side project. Bobby Wheeler (Jeff Conaway) is the struggling actor with big dreams. Elaine Nardo (Marilu Henner) is the working mother of two. Tony Banta (Tony Danza) is a veteran and failed boxer (one of his only wins was when the opponent tripped on the ropes and knocked himself out).

Latka2

Latka Gravas (Andy Kaufman) was a foreign mechanic and an excuse for Andy Kaufman to be insane. Of course, he’s Andy Kaufman, so it worked out pretty well. Perhaps most brilliantly, because Andy Kaufman chose to make up his own country, language, and customs which don’t really resemble any actual country, it doesn’t come off as racist or insensitive even if you watch it today.

Louie De Palma (Danny De Vito) is… I don’t exactly know how to describe him. He’s the bad guy, most of the time. He’s a scumbag, but he’s also so funny that you find yourself loving him. TV Guide ranked him as the best character of all time, and the fact that he was hard to nail down into an archetype at the time he was created is part of why. Now, there are other characters that act like him, but the archetype they’re following is Louie De Palma.

Frank.png
He later went to Med School in Philly

All of these characters, even Latka, have a sort of air of sadness or futility surrounding them. That’s really one of the themes of the first season of the show, the fact that only our protagonist, Alex, has actually come to terms with his lot in life. He’s a cab driver. He has no higher aspirations. The others are all just shown to be people who want to be better, but keep getting swatted back into their place by life. Then, this episode happens in the second season, and slightly changed the show’s dynamic by dredging up a former guest character by the name of the Great Reverend Jim Ignatowski (Christopher Lloyd).

TAXI, standing from left: Andy Kaufman, Christopher Lloyd, seated from left: Judd Hirsch, Marilu Hen
I built a time machine once… I think

Jim Ignatowski is the waste of potential that comes from being wasted. He is an unbelievably intelligent former Harvard student, but he partied so hard in the 60s that, by the 70s, he now is a homeless street preacher. Despite the fact that he is seen as being spaced out most of the time to the point that he’s basically useless or childish, Jim’s biggest redeeming factors are that he is usually happy, he has one of the biggest hearts of any characters on television, and, because it’s Christopher Lloyd, he is freaking hilarious. This episode both re-introduces him as a main character, and contains some of the best scenes the character ever got.

SUMMARY

The main characters run into Reverend Jim, and find out that he’s lost his unofficial church. Jim recounts his history as a “living embodiment of the 60s,” as well as some of his past and present issues, saying “I kept finding God all over, but he kept ditching me.” Feeling sad for him, they decide they’re going to get him a job as a taxi driver. What follows is one of the best routines ever, as the cast all work together to get Jim hired by Louie and to help Jim pass his driving test. Probably the most memorable part is the Yellow Light bit. It is truly a sketch that should never have worked. However, Brooks and Burrows had so much faith in it that, instead of scripting it fully, director James Burrows just told Conway and Lloyd to keep going until the audience stopped finding it funny. It lasts a full minute, consisting only of 8 words. Right before the cut, you can even see the other cast members starting to break character and laugh at Lloyd’s delivery.

END SUMMARY

As I said earlier, this changed the feel of the show, by adding a character who, despite his horrible life, didn’t feel down about it. He was positive and happy, even if he didn’t believe he had any real meaning left in his existence, saying that he thought he’d reach Nirvana, but all he found were images of the original mouseketeers popping out of seedpods. He had realized the absurdity of any further search for meaning, and, rather than be horrified or depressed by it, he chose to accept it and reach a state of contented happiness. Albert Camus once wrote of the same concept, the absurd hero, in his essay “The Myth of Sisyphus.” So, rather than making the audience start to feel worse about the state of the cast’s unchanging lots in life, Taxi introduced someone who had accepted it and chosen to be happy anyway. Bet you didn’t see a French Absurdist philosophy reference coming here, did you?

sisyphus
Okay, it’s not quite Camus’s vision

PREVIOUS – 29: Saturday Night Live

NEXT – 27: M*A*S*H

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.