The Good Guys, “Bait & Switch”

Last night, I tweeted that, “The Good Guys is unbelievably goofy and maybe a little stupid. But it makes me smile. What else can you ask for in June?”

Yeah, that pretty much sums up my thoughts on the series. But I will say that I liked “Bait & Switch” even more than the pilot episode.

Because they’ve set up the series to be this odd combination of commenting on cop show parodies and being a cop show parody, it allows the writers to take their characters and situations very broadly with the trust that the audience will appreciate the intent. So when Bradley Whitford’s Dan is screaming at the computer because he thinks it has somehow infiltrated his mind or when the episode uses the “X minutes earlier” trick on countless occasions, we go with it. Or at least I do. I can’t exactly explain why, but I will definitely watch this series every week from now on because it made me smile and sometimes even laugh out loud in multiple instances last night.

“Bait & Switch” was certainly better at tip-toeing the line between commenting on cliché and being cliché, making it a little more obvious when the series was making fun of things like the in media res opening with the car cannonballing through the glass window and the aforementioned “X minutes earlier” gags. I’ve never seen one episode use it so often and I think that’s what made it a confirmed joke. If it would have been used just once, then it’s still a normal television cliché, but continuously throwing it in the face of the audience was a neat little trick.

The same goes for Whitford’s Dan, his fear of computers and love for his car. We’ve seen variations of those character beats before, but not with an epic mustache and Whitford delivering them, meaning they’re still effective, if not completely ridiculous. Again, his character walks this odd line that makes you think his representation is completely stupid, but then ultimately smile when he says something like “What kinda English? Keith Richards English or Elton John English?”

Thankfully, it all works because of the good chemistry between Whitford and Hanks and the nicely developed set pieces. I can’t imagine the series can last on the small crime becomes big conspiracy for too long, but I’m willing to let that technique continue for at least another handful of episodes. And I guess if the series finds a way to riff on that as part of its formula, then I’m okay with it going on for even longer.

So I basically more or less wrote a 400 word review that was an extension of my tweet. One more time now: The Good Guys is unbelievably goofy and maybe a little stupid. But it makes me smile. What else can you ask for in June?

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