The Good Cop premieres September 21st on Netflix.
By Jeffery Shellenbarger
In 1993, John Fogerty was sued for writing and performing a song that allegedly sounded too similar to a Credence Clearwater Revival song. In truth, the two songs did sound similar. The reason why the case was dismissed, however, was because John Fogerty wrote and performed both songs. Since they were both his babies, of course there were similarities.
I kept thinking about that court case while watching The Good Cop. It all seemed so familiar, and yet, ever so slightly off. It is as if I have seen a version of this show before, but without so much Tony Danza. Then it hit me—The Good Cop was created and written by Andy Breckman. Andy Breckman also created the detective comedy-drama Monk.
The two shows are like siblings who aren’t twins, but are often confused for being twins. They are both whimsical 40-45 minute detective shows. They both feature a quirky former detective from whom the police now seek help. They both feature a detective who is very particular about the little details.
In Monk, Adrian Monk fulfilled both roles. In this show, the roles are split between a dysfunctional father and son. Tony Sr. (played by Tony Danza, because of course Tony Danza is playing a character named Tony) is a former detective who was recently released out of jail for some shady activities committed while behind the badge. Tony Jr. (Josh Groban), meanwhile, is a by-the-books detective who is such a stickler for the rules that he isn’t even remotely relatable or likable. This is the biggest problem of the series.
Adrian Monk was a weird character, but I could understand him. His eccentricities were mostly foreign to me, but he was portrayed and written in such a way that I could at least understand what he was feeling and why he reacted the way he did. Tony Jr. is just a stock caricature of a stick-in-the-mud. There’s a scene in the pilot where he and Tony Sr. are stuck at a broken red light, and Tony Jr. refuses to run it. He knows the light is busted. Tony Sr. reminds him it’s broken and urges him to just go. There is no traffic in the intersection to make such a drive across the intersection a hazard. Instead of just going, or reporting the light, or getting out of the car to direct traffic, or any number of reasonable things, Tony Jr. just sits there behind the wheel, staring at the traffic light.
Tony Sr., on the other hand, is oozing with charisma. No, not because of the way the character is written. Tony Sr. is a disgusting creature of a man who dawns an extra coat of slime any time he’s around a woman. No, the charisma is all from Tony Danza who is doing his best with what he’s given. There are times when I found myself softening up to him, even though he is utterly repulsive. I even chuckled a couple of times.
Speaking of which, the show’s attempts at comedy bits are exhausting. Instead of just weaving a sight gag into the script or using some punchy dialogue to lighten a scene, the show outright stops the narrative momentum to do full on bits. And. These. Bits. Drag. They’re like a bad SNL or Mad TV sketch in that they wear out their premise immediately, and then continue to go on for what seems like several minutes. Maybe that’s just Andy Breckman’s way of giving everybody a chance to look down on their phones for a minute.
All that said, The Good Cop isn’t a bad show. The actual mysteries are intriguing, and Tony Danza, although slimy, is oddly delightful. It’s just that the show has an older sibling that did everything first and better. If you haven’t seen Monk, go watch that instead. If you have and have grown tired of watching the reruns, or just want to watch something new and Monk-like, The Good Cop will do. I guess.
I give The Good Cop a C+.