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Monk see, Monk re-do: From the creator of that series comes Netflix's The Good Cop


Now listen here, kid. Josh Groban, Tony Danza in The Good Cop. Netflix photo

Premiering: All 10 Season One episodes begin streaming Friday, Sept. 21st on Netflix
Starring: Josh Groban, Tony Danza, Monica Barbaro, Isiah Whitlock Jr.
Produced by: Andy Breckman, Randy Zisk, Howard Klein, Tony Danza

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Monk creator Andy Breckman clearly doesn’t mind repeating himself.

He’s also said that his intention with The Good Cop is to give audiences a straight ahead, mostly light-hearted “procedural” where crimes are solved cleanly and to some extent, amusingly. So what we have here is a safely conventional drama that provides a stark alternative to the new and mind-bending Maniac. Both 10-episode series are being launched Friday, Sept. 21st on Netflix.

Starring in Good Cop are two familiar faces, although not for the same lines of work. TV mainstay Tony Danza plays Tony Caruso Sr., who’s spent time in prison for being a corrupt cop. Soulful balladeer Josh Groban, who’s dabbled in TV as a guest star and host, takes on his first lead role as bespectacled Tony Caruso Jr., who’s also a cop. Junior is where Monk comes in. He’s an anal stickler whose insistence on decorum and aversion to rules infractions have led some in the New York Police Department to dub him “Nancy Drew.”

“Would you relax? You’re makin’ the coffee nervous,” his old man carps in the premiere hour.

Father and son live together in hopes that Tony Sr. will be on better behavior that way. But wouldn’t you know it, dad becomes a prominent suspect in a murder case where the corpse is a cop who time and again rubbed him the wrong way. The bullets shot into him came from Tony Jr.’s pistol, but no one thinks he could have done this. But maybe Tony Sr. took the gun on the sly and did the deed.

Well, of course he didn’t. But the way in which the two of them were framed turns out to be a genuinely novel twist. So Good Cop gets a commendation for that after Tony Sr. first “confesses” to the murder and winds up in orange again.

Unfortunately, Episode 2 isn’t nearly so crisp. A sleazy talent manager of some sort is murdered in his hotel room by a guy wearing a giant rabbit’s head. Meanwhile, at a bar, Tony Sr. tries to come on to a famous Victoria’s Secret supermodel who’s sitting alone in a nearby booth. He eventually takes no for an answer in an amiable fashion. But the next morning she shows up at the Caruso home and is very interested in both the old man and the whereabouts of his missing cell phone. Of course she has an agenda. But Tony Sr. thinks he’s got the world on a string, as he sings while making a grand entrance for his pals’ benefits.

All of this is very clumsily handled in time, with Tony Sr. eventually consulting a Catholic priest for guidance while Tony Jr. keeps trying to puzzle out why such a knockout would be interested in his father. The denouement is lame and even borderline offensive, with Tony Sr. still looking to score even after he finds out what her agenda really is.

Supporting characters include Tony Jr.’s new partner, Cora Vasquez (Monica Barbaro) and a playing-out-the-string veteran cop named Burt Loomis (Isiah Whitlock Jr.). There’s also a nerdy forensics guy who provides a bit of entertainment in the series’ much better opening episode.

Impatient Burt also has some amusing riffs on the subject of why “a lot of things don’t make sense.” Specifically, “Why are nickels bigger than dimes?” he asks. Or, if you prefer, “Why do The Flintstones celebrate Christmas?”

Groban is appealing in his first big TV series swing while Danza is Danza -- broad and constantly wisecracking. Those looking for any sharp edges to either character will find themselves searching in vain. But that’s the stated intent.

There’s nothing wrong in aspiring to be purely entertaining. Good Cop is quite good at that in Episode 1, but pretty much falls on its face in the second hour. Each story ends with a newspaper headline teasing the next one. Which means that Episode 3 will focus on “Who is the Ugly German Lady?” After watching all 10 episodes of the far more ambitious Maniac, I just didn’t care enough to find out. At this point, my brain, eyes and typing fingers are the ones crying out for escape.


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