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Saturday, 31 of October of 2020

The Good Guys – “Broken Door Theory”

I’m a cop. I drink shots, I don’t take them.”

The Good Guys is steadily improving, but still has more work to do.

The humor is significantly sharper in “Broken Door Theory,” especially with Whitford hamming up Stark’s flu to Shatner-like proportions, while Hanks manages to shape up his straight-man Bailey a bit more to keep Stark funny (and not sad). The patter between the two is more seamless, finding a groove that keeps the interactions between the two cops interesting and engaging.

However, “Broken Door Theory” displays some of the other problems that the show may want to work out before the fall season starts (even if it is on a Friday).

I enjoy the stories going back and seeing what the criminals are up to as Stark and Bailey close in. Given that Stark and Bailey talk to so few witnesses or suspects over the course of the episode, letting the criminals breathe a bit allows fun guest stars to shine through in the episode. Equally entertaining, thus far, is that the criminals don’t seem overly happy to be working in Dallas, which nicely contrasts with Stark and Bailey’s dedication to protecting it: the criminals probably wish they were in a different city.

Indeed, they really are stuck in Dallas. Criminals, by the end of the episodes so far, are looking to flee Dallas but never manage to escape. And while everyone else seem happy to be in Dallas, the criminals don’t seem overly happy with their operations there. It’s an interesting dynamic that the show could really play up more: crimes Stark and Bailey end up investigating could end up being the criminals’ last crime before leaving Dallas for good, but get caught and have to stay in Dallas due to their incarceration.

While I think this would be wildly entertaining, it would also mean that Dallas would need to take a larger role in the show. Given Matt Nix’s love of Miami in Burn Notice, I hoped that Dallas would get a similar treatment in The Good Guys, but the city has yet to feel fully realized as a locale. But this isn’t the primary problem the show is facing as it goes along. What the show needs to do is adjust its narrative pacing.

“Broken Door Theory,” while fun, is narratively shaggy, a bit oddly paced. I can’t find a decent groove in the show, which is a bit off-putting. Part of the issue could be the show’s cases, which need to bend and twist around to tie the minor crime to the major one. Another part could be the show’s doubling back. While I’ve praised it, and still enjoy it, it does make the narrative a bit tricky to keep moving at a decent clip.

The show also still suffers from poorly characterized female supporting roles. Liz, is again, depicted as the wishy-washy ex; Ruiz gets to yell, but is ineffective. It’s disappointing, and it may be best for the show to either drop Liz all together, or they need to ramp up her character to interesting heights. Otherwise, she’s a waste of character beats, passive-aggressively chasing after Bailey. It’s boring, sad, and needs to be addressed, and ASAP.

So while the show is entertaining, it needs to be better crafted if it really wants to succeed. For the next episode, I may discuss the issues about evaluating the show on a summer curve, an issue that crops up a bit with this and other shows. We’ll see.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • I do like when the show allows Stark to be a little more of a human being. His decision to never take a sick day because it may mean his partner would be in danger is sweetly deranged, but also serves as a way to keep Stark from seeming too cartoonish: he’s an all-in kind of guy, even when it comes to his partner.
  • Thankfully, I’m not alone in what I thought of the episode, or what can be improved. Check out Cory Barker’s thoughts on the episode.

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