Review and interview, The Good Guys on FOX a keeper

It’s been a long time coming, a buddy cop show that hearkens the feel of "Jake and The Fat Man," "Mannix," "Columbo" and "McCloud" dusted with the feel good silliness of "The Rockford Files" and "Starsky & Hutch," but by Jove, FOX scored a home run with "The Good Guys." <P></P> <P>The initial shock of seeing Bradley Whitford’s mustache at the TCA’s this past winter now is a welcome sight, as Matt Nix (Burn Notice) has crafted the perfect cop character for Bradley at precisely the right time in his life – before his AARP card arrives – yet too old to suffer fools and rookie cops.</P> <P>"The Good Guys" (which Fox previews tomorrow at 8 Eastern before returning on Monday, June 7) is a fun show and not to be missed.</P> <P>The story is a clever pastiche of standby action scenes layered with more contemporary storytelling.  The bonus for us all is Whitford’s Dan Stark, a Dallas cop who still misses 1985 as he wrangles the kid, Colin Hanks, his patronizing partner Jack Bailey, who’s trying to pull his partner into modernity.   Bailey corrects the grammar of a superior, ’nuff said.</P> <P>***image3:center***</P> <P>Nix made the fabulous "Burn Notice" for USA, a show so redolent with feel good retro touches and genius casting we would expect no less from this effort. He succeeds and delivers the sort of TV show my father has pined for years, a funny fast-paced caperesque whodunnit that crackles with talent all around the camera. Check your high falutin’ ways at the door and kick out the Barcalounger.</P> <P>Monsters and Critics was on a conference call with The Good Guys Colin Hanks and Bradley Whitford.   Mirth ensued.</P> <P><STRONG>Bradley, your mustache – discuss.</STRONG></P> <P><STRONG>B. Whitford</STRONG> The big old thing.  No, I am, I guess more proud than anything – whether it’s anything that’s done professionally, my children, anything – really my ability to grow facial hair.  </P> <P>Look, a cop with a mustache, a cop with a bright future behind him with a mustache – it just seems like an absolute requirement going into this and the attention it’s getting – I’m jealous of the mustache.</P> <P><STRONG>What do you all think of filming in Dallas?</STRONG> </P> <P><STRONG>C. Hanks</STRONG> Well, it’s not ideal considering our lives are based in another state, but that’s part of joining the circus is you’re going to be playing out-of-town dates, so we sort of know that going in.  </P> <P>Dallas is a fantastic place to shoot and a fantastic place to be.  I could think of a lot of other places I’m really glad I’m not in right now.  They’ve got great crews out here, all very talented, very nice very easy-going people that are fun to work with, who are very talented and very good at what they do.  </P> <P>And when you’re doing the grind of a TV show, you’re very grateful when you’re working with good people.  The city, I think, has been very helpful, and we’ve shot pretty much sort of all over the place.  No one’s yelled at us for ruining their day or anything like that or ruining their commute, so.</P> <P><STRONG>Bradley How do you kind of keep your character balanced and keep him real?</STRONG></P> <P><STRONG>B. Whitford</STRONG>:  Oh, God, I have no idea.  With material like this, which is a kind of material that I love, that kind of aspires to a sort of Elmore-Leonard – one of my favorite movies of all time, Raising Arizona kind of- you’re constantly worried about, although I generally burst out laughing when somebody says:  Do you think that’s a little too much?</P> <P><STRONG>C. Hanks</STRONG>  I don’t think there is something as too much with Bradley’s character, to be quite honest.</P> <P><STRONG>B. Whitford</STRONG> But you are kind of playing around with somebody who’s out there and yet trying to keep it real, and you’re trying to make the stakes really huge but mostly you’re just kind of having fun.</P> <P><STRONG>Does the show remind you of some of the TV shows of yesteryear?</STRONG></P> <P><STRONG>B. Whitford</STRONG> Colin emerged from the womb much more recently than me. </P> <P><STRONG>C. Hanks</STRONG> So you watched Leave it to Beaver and I watched C.H.I.P.S., is that what you’re implying?</P> <P><STRONG>B. Whitford</STRONG> No, I really didn’t watch, I didn’t watch those shows.  What was the one?  For some reason, I watched the one with Cannon, with the big fat guy who would waddle when he ran.  You know what I’m talking about?</P> <P><STRONG>C. Hanks</STRONG> Oh, Jake and the Fat Man.  </P> <P><STRONG>B. Whitford</STRONG> Yes.</P> <P><STRONG>C. Hanks</STRONG> Well, the name’s then – it’s all there in the title.</P> <P><STRONG>B. Whitford</STRONG> Yes.</P> <P><STRONG>C. Hanks</STRONG> It’s all there in the title.  That’s like all those buddy sort of cop shows of that era, like that’s definitely like the vibe.  That’s like the template for a little bit of our show.  </P> <P>A flavor, if you will.  But I sort of feel like it fits well in that canon of show – and canon is a very favorable word – but I think we also sort of have our own twists that make the show sort of unique and, more importantly, ours are – this is a comedy.  I mean, we’re blowing stuff up and we’re chasing bad guys and we’re doing all that stuff too, but this is really much more of a comedy than any of those shows were, so it’s sort of poking fun in a homage-y kind of way, if homage-y would be used as a word.</P> <P><STRONG>What is it about your characters that attracted you to take the role?</STRONG></P> <P><STRONG>C. Hanks</STRONG> Brad, do you want me to buy you some time?</P> <P><STRONG>B. Whitford</STRONG> No, I was just going to say lusty, unhinged, post alcoholism.  …</P> <P><STRONG>C. Hanks</STRONG> Okay.  For me, it was more of a chance to – so much of the stuff that I end up sort of reading for or people want me for is the sort of same guy surrounded by a bunch of crazy people, and this was not necessarily that dynamic.  This was much more of a two hander between two guys who are both equally flawed in very, very different reasons, for very different reasons.  And more importantly, Jack was the guy that spoke back.  He talked back to people.  It wasn’t just him reacting all the time to, “Why are you so crazy?  Why can’t you be normal?”  Jack actually has an attitude toward Dan sometimes, and he lets Dan know when he’s not happy.  I like being able to read a character that actually stood up for himself. </P> <P><STRONG>Colin, do you think as a newly married man, that will affect your character on The Good Guys at all?</STRONG></P> <P><STRONG>C. Hanks</STRONG> No, not at all. I think really it’s personality more than anything else and life experiences for sure, but Jack is not nearly as emotionally and relationship balanced as I am.  </P> <P>And there’s a lot of comedy gold out there to be found in terms of Jack’s inability to maintain a relationship and his sort of will-he-won’t-he relationship with Jenny Wade’s character, Liz.  So, I don’t think me being married will really affect Jack too much, but it’ll definitely make me feel a whole lot better about making a fool out of myself at work knowing that I’ve got a wife back home who cares for me deeply no matter how big of a fool I make out of myself.</P> <P><STRONG>Bradley, this is such an interesting character.  Can you just delve into that a little more – how much fun you’re having?</STRONG></P> <P><STRONG>B. Whitford</STRONG> Yes, this guy is operating from his kind of reptilian brain … This is kind of a – I hope it’s not a pretentious analogy or comparison but – there was a playwright I worked with that said the most interesting people were people who’d given up on actually attaining what they thought they were going to attain in life.  And when you have a guy who sort of has realized he loves what he does but Plan A is definitely not going to work – he’s really sort of open to …  It’s just a lot of fun.  It’s a blast.</P> <P><STRONG>Do you really get along and are having a great time.  Is the set that way as well?  It seems that way from the screener.</STRONG></P> <P><STRONG>B. Whitford</STRONG> I always joke that the television I’ve done I feel like truly the cameras are pointed the wrong way and that it’s really, it’s certainly true in this situation that we have really a lovely, fun group of people working on this.  I can’t function in a – I don’t think anybody really can, creatively in sort of a hostile, gruesome situation.  And I felt with Colin the moment he walked in the room with the audition – I said, “Oh God, I know this guy.” I felt totally comfortable with this guy and he felt like an old friend.  So that part of it has always been there but I think we would both re-emphasize and we’re not kidding that the crew makes a huge difference for the show.</P> <P><STRONG>C. Hanks</STRONG> And between that and just the day in and day out of shooting a comedy – we’re laughing a lot throughout the course of the day.  Even on the long 16-hour days like we’ve just had, there’s still going to be a big laugh somewhere throughout the course of the day and that really helps when you’re making a comedy.</P> <P><STRONG>B. Whitford</STRONG> I do want to add, though, that one really painful thing is this was when Colin ran off and got married.  I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a betrayal like that.</P> <P><STRONG>C. Hanks</STRONG> Well, I’m making it up for you.  I’m spending my honeymoon with you, Bradley.  So you know, sorry baby, I’m back.  Don’t worry.</P> <P><STRONG>What did you both find to be the most challenging aspect of these characters?</STRONG></P> <P><STRONG>C. Hanks</STRONG> I think trying to find the balance between the realism and the comedy.  I think sometimes we find ourselves kind of – or at least I do – find myself hitting my head a little bit trying to find out exactly what it is I’m trying to serve and what is the best way to do that.  </P> <P>Am I trying to serve a sense of reality in which something funny happens or am I trying to serve the comedy in which reality sort of goes out the window, and it’s just fun and zany and a good time.  </P> <P>And that can be a hard thing to over the course of a show when the characters are evolving and you’re going into new places and the character is growing and you maybe are resisting that change or you’re looking forward to it.  Trying to chart that can be a little bit different and can be difficult.  </P> <P>But it’s also, I think, just a fun show, and so you just try not to worry about it too much and you just sort of, as Dan would say, you just sort of trust your gut and hopefully things turn out pretty funny.  We’ve been trusting our guts and it’s been turning out pretty funny. </P> <P><STRONG>B. Whitford</STRONG> I would agree that the trickiest thing is – we’re not making Naked Gun.  We are doing – but it needs to be funny.  But all … I woke up in the middle of the night when we were doing the pilot and I thought, “Oh my God, I jumped the shark in the teaser of the pilot.”  So, it’s – that is the scariest thing.  And there is a part of me that – you do want to be generous with the laughs.  An audience would rather laugh than …</P> <P><STRONG>C. Hanks</STRONG> Than find out how we’re going to catch the killer who does the special thing that he does that lets people know that he’s the killer.</P> <P>I think the stuff that Brad and I are able to bring is sort of our own senses of humor that fall under the greater umbrella of the same sense of humor that Matt Nix has.  So I think from the very, very early stages once we got past that initial pilot and into the other episodes, our sense of humor fit very well for the pilot and as the show’s progressed, it’s gotten even better as we’ve all gotten to know each other.  </P> <P>Matt [Nix] is a very smart guy and he’s got a very specific writing style and he specifically looked for people that could deliver his dialogue in the way that he likes.  And so knowing that how smart he is and that that’s what he was going for, you start seeing things sort of formatted a little bit more to not just the two of us but really sort of all the sort of characters at large.  It really sort of helps.</P> <P>B. Whitford I have to chime in that a lot of this is a reflection of Matt Nix’s kind of funky aesthetic and partially, by necessity, because of …. picked up Burn Notice and I don’t know if you saw that … for an unprecedented twenty-five years.  But he’s incredibly collaborative and wants everybody – his writers, the prop guy – he really is remarkably comfortable and it seems to be his sort of his only criteria is:  “Does that make me laugh?”  And if somebody else comes up with it, he’s thrilled. </P> <P><STRONG>When you went through the scripts, what were your thoughts on Jack and Dan?</STRONG></P> <P><STRONG>C. Hanks</STRONG> I didn’t really know much about Matt Nix – I knew that he created Burn Notice, which was a very, very funny show.  I had not seen Burn Notice, so I was just sort of basically just going off of the script, and I though the script was really funny.  </P> <P>I thought it was clever and witty, and I thought it was a very well established program that had some places to go.  I really just sort of took it as it was.  Not really knowing much about Matt Nix was a little bit of a leap of faith.  I knew who Bradley was.  I’ve been watching him for years and years and years, and I just said, “Oh, well, it would be interesting to see what he’d do with this.”  And I just sort of took a little bit of a leap and found myself in a really sort of very, very, very lucky position.</P> <P><STRONG>B. Whitford</STRONG>  I know Colin and I both read a lot of scripts and just reading the scripts can be grim.  You find yourself going through these – I go through the, what are they  the five stages of death – you’re reading a script and you’re kind of in denial that it’s terrible and then ultimately, there’s acceptance of, “Oh, this is just horrible.”  </P> <P><STRONG>C. Hanks</STRONG> And the only thing I’m being offered.</P> <P><STRONG>B. Whitford</STRONG> That’s right. </P> <P><STRONG>C. Hanks</STRONG> But with this script, you like ripped through it and you find yourself laughing out loud, and that’s a huge – I just really like a mix of kind of – there’s something very contemporary and current about Matt’s sense of humor, but it’s overlaid on this kind of retro, very generous to the audience:  “We’re not here to teach you.  We’re not here to serve you vegetables, we’re here to have fun with you” kind of old-time show biz aesthetic that was a good mix. </P> <P><STRONG>Do you go over lines together?  Do you do a sort of exercises when you’re doing – acting exercises?</STRONG></P> <P><STRONG>B. Whitford</STRONG> We – It’s all work – I think I speak for both of us.  It’s all … defense we’re playing.  Everything you’re talking about is offense, and the pace of this is so quick and the level of pressure to get things done quickly doesn’t give you any sort of conventional way to prepare.  </P> <P>The odd thing is there can be real advantages in that.  You’ll hear directors like Clint Eastwood – he doesn’t just do movies because they’re fast because he likes to get them done with.  He believes that you get a sort of immediacy and a sort of lack of pressure if you shoot things fast.  But we’re under the gun a lot.  We don’t have a lot of choice about that.</P> <P><STRONG>C. Hanks</STRONG> I get into my trailer every morning and I crank up the jams and listen to Kokomo at the highest volume.  I make myself a pina colada and a margarita, mix them together, and that’s my vocal warm-up.</P> <P><STRONG>B. Whitford</STRONG> And it’s …</P> <P><STRONG>C Hanks</STRONG> And then I bring the wattage.</P> <P><STRONG>B. Whitford</STRONG> The wattage?</P> <P><STRONG>C. Hanks</STRONG> The wattage.  The star wattage.  No, that’s horrible.  Honestly, the only thing that you have time for is to try and memorize your lines.</P></EMBED> <P><STRONG>B. Whitford</STRONG> We’re not – I guess what I’m trying to say is our goal is not to do this well.  Our goal is basic human dignity.</P> <P><STRONG>C. Hanks</STRONG> And really it’s – the dignity can just be us saying the lines and hitting the moments that you need to.  “That’ll do, pig.  That’ll do.” </P> <P><STRONG>The Good Guys previews on Wednesday, May 19th, at 8 p.m., 7 p.m. Central and has its series premiere on Monday, June 7th, at 9 p.m., 8 p.m. Central.</STRONG>  </P><EMBED name=flashObj pluginspage=http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/download/index.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash src=http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f8/1545148137 width=326 height=292 type=application/x-shockwave-flash swLiveConnect="true" seamlesstabbing="false" base="http://admin.brightcove.com" flashVars="videoId=85977476001&playerId=1545148137&viewerSecureGatewayURL=https://console.brightcove.com/services/amfgateway&servicesURL=http://services.brightcove.com/services&cdnURL=http://admin.brightcove.com&domain=embed&amp;autoStart=false&" bgcolor="#FFFFFF"></EMBED> <EMBED name=flashObj pluginspage=http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/download/index.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash src=http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f8/1545148137 width=326 height=292 type=application/x-shockwave-flash bgcolor="#FFFFFF" flashVars="videoId=82367257001&playerId=1545148137&viewerSecureGatewayURL=https://console.brightcove.com/services/amfgateway&servicesURL=http://services.brightcove.com/services&cdnURL=http://admin.brightcove.com&domain=embed&autoStart=false&" base="http://admin.brightcove.com" seamlesstabbing="false" swLiveConnect="true"></EMBED> <EMBED name=flashObj pluginspage=http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/download/index.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash src=http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f8/1545148137 width=326 height=292 type=application/x-shockwave-flash bgcolor="#FFFFFF" flashVars="videoId=85979791001&playerId=1545148137&viewerSecureGatewayURL=https://console.brightcove.com/services/amfgateway&servicesURL=http://services.brightcove.com/services&cdnURL=http://admin.brightcove.com&domain=embed&autoStart=false&" base="http://admin.brightcove.com" seamlesstabbing="false" swLiveConnect="true"></EMBED>Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.

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