There are only a handful of things that I'll laugh at just about every time, but I am a sucker for a committed accent gag, where a talented actor comes up with an accent that will be just this side of ridiculous and goes with it, using it to push the funny stuff he does to even more ridiculous places. I didn't catch the name of the actor who played the falafel restaurant dude tonight, but he was so enjoyable in his role, so good at pushing the ridiculousness of the situations he was in while simultaneously maintaining just enough of the badass to him that he seemed like a credible threat. As such, "Supercops" was probably my favorite episode of the show in quite some time, even though one of the story strands ultimately didn't pay off really.
Let's start with the story thread that didn't work. The stuff with the strike force (the "Supercops" of the title) wasn't terrible, and Michael Shanks was fun as the group's leader. But there was surprisingly little substance to it, particularly with a character actor like Shanks in that role. The strike force was mainly there to tempt Jack and then to fade away. One of the things I like best about the show is when it sets up other cops at the precinct to draw distinctions with Dan and Jack, so, theoretically, this should have worked much better than it did. But when it came right down to it, the super-competence of the supercops was so boring that it didn't feel as though they presented a credible threat to snatching Jack away from working with Dan. They were more or less deus ex machinas, there to swoop in and save the day, stealing credit from Jack and Dan, but they felt stagnant to spend so much of the episode on. Fortunately, they ended up being about the least important story thread in the whole thing, and the rest of the story was fun.
Another thing I vastly enjoy is when a story comes full circle. When the episode opened with Dan and Jack pursuing a bad guy and having to go through a small delivery door (or doggie door, I suppose), I chuckled at the idea that Dan would request Jack slather him with recycled motor oil, the better for him to squeeze through the tight space. But when the episode then circled back around to have the guys (and their two new contacts) have to escape from another small space via a tiny hole, it became obvious where this was going. And yet, it was highly enjoyable to see the guys produce the grease, then get all slicked up in it. It's a rare show that builds an entire plot point around middle-aged men getting covered in animal fat, but The Good Guys made both incidents highly amusing.
Another bonus of the episode was that most of the bad guys the episode kept jumping to were solid. I wasn't a huge fan of the beefier car thief (who seemed to overplay his every outburst), but the bearded car thief (who was a weird look-alike for Joshua Gomez of Chuck, another light action drama that's had trouble finding an audience on network, but I digress) was very funny with his wry reactions, and, as mentioned, I liked both of the Middle Eastern villains, particularly the younger one, who kept walking the knife's edge of disappearing into caricature but never did. It felt like the bad guys were funny without becoming overbearing, like they took up enough of the story without overtaking it, as though all of the elements were mixed just about perfectly for the show. The focus was on Dan and Jack, as it should be, but the mix of the other storylines felt like a throwback to some of the show's earlier episodes (if a series that's only 18 episodes old can be said to have throwbacks, that is). There was plenty of stuff to juggle, including at least one fast flashback in every act, but the show never lost sight of the plot or of the main characters, and that made some of the sillier stuff easier to swallow.
When trying to figure out just why this episode balanced the elements of the show so successfully when some of the other recent ones have been trying a little too hard here and there, I came back to the name of Matt Nix credited as writing the script. (Well, he was co-credited, but often, when a creator is co-credited, it means there was a major rewrite of a freelance or first-time script. That said, the other credited writer is Tamara Becher, who's worked on the show as a story editor from the start, so maybe the intention was always for the two to write the script together.) Nix has been torn between this show and Burn Notice, but when he's taking a firmer hand with either series, it seems like that show perks up just a bit. This episode felt like the pilot of the show, but it also had elements that have been added since. Even Nix can't quite figure out what to do with the fact that Julius is pretty much a regular now and that he has to get the characters over to the bar every few acts, but he does a great job with Samantha (whose relationship with Dan is turning into one of my favorite things on the show), and he even gives the Lieutenant some good laugh lines.
The Good Guys goes away for Thanksgiving weekend next week (presumably so Fox can put a movie or something on in its place), and then it will air its final two episodes, probably ever. After that, Fox is going to begin rerunning the episodes in late night on Saturdays, which might indicate faith but more likely indicates a desire to just stick something on in that time slot. All the same, I think it might be interesting to go back and more carefully chart the show's evolution from the start, all of the weird little twists and turns it took, and try to figure out how what we have now came to be. "Supercops" is just good enough that I wish the show or Nix or the network or someone had not pushed so hard to make the show more accessible, had kept plugging away until they figured out the perfect mix of elements in the original formula.
- On the other hand, The Good Guys appears to have burned through all classic rock staples ever, so maybe the show would find it literally impossible to have a second season.
- I forgot to mention that I also really liked the bit character of Dave, the diamond guy. His dealings with both the bad guys and Dan and Jack were very funny.
- If this show has given us nothing else, it's at least given us the sight of a shirtless Bradley Whitford covered in motor oil. So, y'know, humanity has that going for it.
- "Every time I drove a truck through the wall of a restaurant, I had a damn good reason."
- "I'm tryin' to get my jam on here."
- "You know what they don't do? They don't cover each other in motor oil."
- "Arrest Sam for being a liar and a weasel. With emerald eyes!"
- "Dan was absolutely convinced that a birthday clown named Mr. Jelly was running a human smuggling ring."
- "If I were a lover of men and you were my man lover, I would never buy you a diamond from this store."
- "Dan keeps telling me I'm picking my career over, y'know, justice."
- "I'm interfacing with the computer machine."
- "I don't want you to be scared. I want you to take your shirt off."