There are roughly 762 police procedurals available to watch on TV at any given moment, which is why no one could fault even the most fervent supporters of the girls and boys in blue for saying "Freeze!" or "Stop right there!" when a new one is announced, even if the totes adorbs Josh Groban is in it. What could another series about a detective and/or cop possibly do differently than the other jillion on the air?
Not much, and yet a lot as Netflix's The Good Cop proves in its first 10-episode season. The cheeky, noir-tinged series has Groban playing Tony Jr., an annoyingly by-the-book NYPD detective who lives with his dad Tony Sr. (Tony frickin' Danza!!!), a disgraced cop convicted of a felony. That premise alone gives The Good Cop an odd-couple familiarity, and though Netflix's series is an adaption of an Israeli series of the same name, the real sense of knowingness that will arrest viewers wise enough to watch this charming series comes from its kinship with USA's hit show Monk. Andy Breckman, who created that series about the quirky, OCD-saddled detective, is showrunner and co-executive producer of The Good Cop and his style informs the show.
Though the circumstances of The Good Cop are different from Monk, its plot devices, jazzy interludes and sense of pat, shy humor are almost exactly the same, which is good news. Unlike the galaxy of other cop procedurals on air, The Good Cop feels lighthearted and fun — emotions that are practically verboten in (serious voice) these fraught political times and even more so within the genre.
"Many cop shows feature dark and provocative material," Breckman wrote in a statement. "Psycho-sexual killers, twisted, grim, flawed detectives... 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."
Thank goodness for it. The Good Cop doesn't tread new ground but it doesn't have to. It has a simple set-up and a child-like mawkishness, which I mean as a compliment. The Good Cop is endearing.
Once one powers through Tony Danza's very strong "Fughetaboutit!" vibes in the first episodes and The Good Cop settles into its rhythm, it's hard not to be wooed by it, predictable and tender as it is. Again, these are assets — words that are sometimes levied as insults, like calling a painter's work pretty. But pretty has its place, as does a by-the-numbers series that will start, progress and end on the same beats in every episode with the same feel-good touch. There is almost little point in diving into the specifics of episodes here; in the four episodes Netflix made available, pretty much the same thing happens in each tale: someone's dead, and some cute combination of T.J.'s obsessiveness and Tony Sr.'s inappropriateness leads to the solving of the crime. (Okay, fine I'll throw a bone: in one, a hot model tricks Tony Sr. into liking her when she's really a criminal; in another, one of Tony Sr.'s buddies escapes from prison and appears to have killed someone but is later vindicated.)
It spoils absolutely nothing to say they solve the crime at the end; where The Good Cop glistens is in the way the two men make themselves vulnerable with each other, healing old wounds and learning to trust the other despite every reason not to. Danza and Groban have chemistry; Danza's "Aye! Yo! You tawkin ta me?!" schtick plays against Groban's halting reticence nicely. Individual members of the supporting cast need more development, but their combined presence is sturdy and makes parts of the series feel much like the well-behaved love child of Monk and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Familiar formulas have their merits; surely the many people who've enjoyed Dick Wolf's works, as well as the writers and producers who've paid for private school tuition off their reruns, would agree. The Good Cop is a cop procedural that follows its own sort of formula though, one that injects some warmth, some innocence and breezy, goofy delight into this typically testosterone-filled space. Where's the crime in that?
The Good Cop premieres Friday Sept. 21 on Netflix.