There was little good about The Good Cop


I am a cop show expert.

Okay, maybe I’m not actually an expert. I suppose that most people would just say I have an intense “obsession,” but I think that qualifies me. Burn Notice, Hawaii Five-O, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, you name it, and I’ve probably binged it in under a month. And then proceeded to go through withdrawals and re-binge the series the following month. So when Netflix released a new original TV show called The Good Cop, I was more than excited. Unfortunately, The Good Cop let me down and will not be making my “Watch Again” list in the upcoming months.

The Good Cop is about a New York cop named Anthony “TJ” Caruso Junior who is pathologically unable to break a rule or tell a lie. TJ is the head of an NYPD homicide task force. That task force includes your typical lazy detective, who in this show is named Burl Loomis, and an awkward crime technician named Ryan.

When the show begins, TJ’s father, Anthony “Tony” Caruso Senior, has recently been released from prison after doing a seven-year stretch. Tony is a dirty ex-cop and is a stark contrast to his by-the-book son. Tony’s parole officer and TJ’s friend is named Cora Vasquez, and she later becomes a lead detective on TJ’s task force.  

The concept of the show was intriguing and unique. I mean, since when is there a police show that includes two morally polar opposites in a platonically loving relationship? There were so many different ways this is comedic drama could have taken and run with this plot. But rather, The Good Cop was completely common and cliché.

Maybe I just watch too many cop shows, but there were no plot twists. I love a good “light bulb moment” when all the pieces of a case come together, and the audience has the satisfaction of seeing everything with supreme clarity. I only experienced this once, and that was the first episode. For me, this supposedly “who-done-it show” was just waiting for TJ to figure out what I already sleuthed. It wasn’t for the writer’s lack of trying to surprise the audience. Every single episode attempted a plot twist, so much so they became mundane and predictable.

In other fictional police shows, there is an overarching plot. Each episode is a different case while another ongoing case is also woven into the script. Whether this aspect of many cop shows is good or bad, it usually depends on how skillfully it was sewn in.  

The Good Cop’s endeavor to use this common aspect is noted; however, I would say it was weak and unstructured if I’m being generous. First of all, this interwoven plot began too late in the too short-season of ten episodes. Secondly, it was thrown at the audience. Everything happened at once, and it didn’t amount to anything. My suggestion to the writer and creator Andy Breckman would have been to rip the overarching plot off the storyboard and toss it in the trash.  

Breckman should also fire whoever he hired for casting. Again, if I’m being generous, the acting was subpar. TJ was played very statically and monotonous by Josh Groban. Perhaps that was the way Andy and his writers wanted it to be, but it made it difficult to connect with TJ. It felt like TJ’s interactions were written by some creatively-challenged fourth-graders whose teacher had just begun to say, “Show, don’t tell!” This is not to say that TJ showed no emotion because some emotions were portrayed, rare as they were.

Additionally, Tony Danza, who played Tony, also had trouble expressing one important emotion: sadness. He did a fine job being happy and angry. There were multiple parts when if the Danza’s acting had just been a touch better, I would have been crying. Furthermore, I don’t know what to say about the other supporting characters acting other than at best, they were simply adequate.

One thing people never really link to police shows is character development. Despite this, it is one of the most prominent elements in this genre of show. My favorite thing is when a case affects a character deep down and watching how it shapes their personality and actions going forward.

None of the characters experienced an inch of character development, which makes me more than angry. There was even a prime opportunity for the writers to incorporate this with Cora, played by Monica Barbaro. Regrettably, they let this chance pass them by like the countryside on a long drive.

Moreover, none of the relationships between characters underwent any change. One relationship I was excited to see develop was between TJ and Cora. I was ready for that strangers-who-become-friends-but-are-secretly-in-love-with-each-other relationship. Let me tell you, I was disappointed. In these kinds of relationships, I love watching for the subtle moments where the audience can see two characters fall for each other. I only got those moments in maybe two episodes, and even then, it came out of nowhere.

As I have said many times, this is a cop show. That implies intense chase scenes, heinous crimes, and suspense. Without these things, can a show even be considered a cop show? I guess so because The Good Cop did exactly that. I got bored waiting and hoping for action scenes that never came.

This may sound uselessly critical, but The Good Cop didn’t even have a good theme song going for it. I like it when a theme song hypes you up to watch the episode. This show had a lulling instrumental song to open each episode.

The Good Cop only had two good things. The first is the old-timey feel to it. Each episode’s name was a newspaper headline shown while the dull theme played. At the end of each episode, it would show the title to the next episode as another newspaper headline, which I rather liked. Also, the entire show was put through a filter in post-production that added to the old-fashioned feel.

The second thing The Good Cop didn’t seriously fail at was the humor. Two supporting characters, Ryan and Burl, seemed to exist solely for this reason. At times, it seemed like The Good Cop was trying to be Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Regardless, there were still many funny one-liners. On the other hand, I must say that at times I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of drugs Ryan was on.

To conclude, The Good Cop wasn’t your typical police show in a bad way. I wouldn’t waste just over seven and a half hours watching an entire season of this show just for a couple of laughs.