Author’s note: Five of the ten episodes were provided for review. The full season arrives on September 21st.
Netflix is going classic with its new series, The Good Cop, premiering September 21st. The comedy/drama, from Monk creator Andy Breckman, follows Anthony Caruso, Jr. (Josh Groban) as a New York City cop whose father, Tony (Tony Danza), an ex-corrupt cop now living with him, helps him solve the episodic crimes usually loosely connected to them in tangential ways. It feels like a show from another time, for better and worse, and can become a little too quaint for its own good.
Danza brings a lot of heart to the show. He is the lovable trickster, out for a quick buck or something profitable, even if it doesn’t tie up the loose ends. His New Yorker accent and fun, carefree demeanor help sell this character as a loving father but flawed man with his head in the wrong place. Groban plays somewhat of a perfectionist goody-two-shoes, obsessive about doing the right thing, going so far as disapproving of taking excessive sugar packets and napkins from a restaurant. Their odd couple routine is almost always the more entertaining piece of the show, Danza and Groban together bringing charm and warmth to their father-son dynamic.
But it’s in the two supporting players where the gold of the cast comes in. Monica Barbaro plays Cara, a new detective who is focused and a smart-ass, really becoming a strength of the show in both performance and character. She’s quick and smart in her delivery, playing off Groban really well. Then there’s Isiah Whitlock Jr. as Burl, best known for The Wire. He’s tired, mostly miserable, and counting the days until his retirement. But he’s also a really fun character, as Whitlock Jr. plays it with a simple, almost shrug of his shoulders take which led to some great line delivery and tired expressions.
There is something gloriously old school about The Good Cop. It feels like a network show from the mid-90’s or early 2000’s, born anew among the streaming services focused on serial storytelling and keeping you hooked to just watch one more episode. It holds to a fairly strict running time of 45 minutes, give or take, a clear sign of a show made for a different era with bloated one-hour plus runtimes. There’s no swearing, there’s not much violence outside of some blood, and it wraps everything up with a nice bow at the end. It’s from a simpler time, when fun and playfulness was more in tune with the detective procedural than crash zooms and CG shots of brains and body parts exploding in X-ray fashion.
But this approach is a double-edged sword. With the old school design and heart comes the feeling of belonging in another era. The show is perhaps too old school, never really moving beyond its procedural trappings or doing anything new or clever with it. All five episodes reviewed tie back to our characters personally in the investigation, which cheapens the experience a little. They’re really running out of personal acquaintances, at this rate. It’s used as a crutch to keep everyone involved in the plot, but it can come across a bit much when yet another person they know or a coincidental meeting comes to be the big factor in the episode’s crime.
The Good Cop is a simple throwback, a show just not being made anymore. It’s snappy, quick, and entertaining, not aiming to further the cop drama/comedy hybrid, and it doesn’t have to. The cast is fun, especially Danza and Groban. It’s a rarity in this day and age for something to be clean fun, and for that, it can be hard to fault it. Even if it didn’t completely click with me, it’s more than likely for someone out there with a Netflix account. The Good Cop can make a good weekend binge, but it won’t leave a huge, lasting impression.