[11/16/09 - 07:32 PM]
The Futon's First Look: "Off Duty" (NBC)
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.

So you've seen all of the new shows this fall - but what about the ones that didn't make the cut? For the next 30 days we're going to take a "first look" at a collection of 30 pilots that didn't land on the 2009-10 season schedule. Are there any gems that got passed over or are they all deservedly locked in the networks' vaults? Stay tuned.

(written by Jason Mantzoukas; directed by Adam Bernstein; TRT: 21:26)

What is it? A single-camera comedy about a straight-laced cop paired with a washed-up legend.

Who was behind it?: Upright Citizens Brigade's Jason Mantzoukas wrote the script, which was directed by Adam Bernstein ("Mercy," "Worst Week").

The plot in a nutshell: Straight-laced cop Mike Roberts ("Weeds's" Romany Malco, sans moustache) is new to homicide. What isn't new is the legend of Glen Falcon ("The West Wing's" Bradley Whitford, with moustache). "In my 21 years on the job I've been shot, stabbed, lit on fire, poisoned, blown up, kidnapped, assaulted sexually and declared legally dead twice," he explains. Unfortunately for him however, his best years may be behind him. His marriage in shambles, Glen spends his days in a alcohol/food-induced daze. Not surprisingly, the last thing he wants is to train Mike, his new partner. "I find him lacking personality, police instincts and moustache," Glen tells Chief Cannery (Capethia Jenkins). Left with no choice, Glen decides to treat Mike as his chauffeur, ferrying him to the next food or alcohol related pit stop. Even worse, he's invited himself to crash at Mike's house, where walks around in his underwear and interrupts Mike and his wife Kim ("Cashmere Mafia's" Bonnie Sommerville) mid coitus.

Mike nevertheless has a plan: it seems Glen, because he's bad with names, likes to give everyone at the station nicknames. Case in point: The Douche ("The Knights of Prosperity's" Lenny Venito), Jackie Chan ("Community's" Ken Jeong), The Black Fella ("Playmakers's" Marcello Thedford) and Dr. Dildo (Ed Herbstman) - all with moustaches. Mike then hopes to trick Glen into giving him a preferred nickname: The Straight Shooter. This of course doesn't go over well and Glen continues to treat Mike as his errand boy, calling him randomly for odd favors (he uses the "officer down" code to get Mike to rush over and check out a potential new apartment) and only stopping to do actual policework when he's properly bribed by his fellow detectives. It's only when he's nearly caught breaking into his soon-to-be-ex-wife's house that Mike manages to blackmail him into teaching him a thing or two. And thus a new status quo for their partnership is born.

What works: Malco and Whitford are funny, talented guys but...

What doesn't: ...they aren't given much to do here. Chief among its problems is that nothing really happens: Mike and Glen just kind of ping pong off each other for a half an hour, the idea being - you know - Mike's the "good" (i.e. follows the rules, loves his wife and family, etc.) cop and Glen's the "bad" (i.e. wakes up in bathroom stalls and lights meth dealers on fire, etc.) cop. Mike spots a group of kids breaking into a car, Glen says don't bother since it will be a mountain of paperwork; Mike actually carries his badge and gun, Glen frequently loses his; and so on. It's all fairly vanilla, boilerplate stuff. "Do you know what time it is?" Mike asks. "I don't know," Glen replies. "Get drunk o'clock?" That's pretty much the quality of humor you can expect here.

(Another sample: "Forgive me if I'm going through a little rough patch here but I am still the best cop you have," Glen tells the Captain after waking up from his latest binge. "So where is my respect?" "Glen," she responds. "You know someone's written the word 'dick' on your forehead right?") Other elements include Glen's racist ("What's the matter Chan you burn a shirt?") and sexist (he starts a pool over Kim's cup size) tendencies. Plus, Mike and Kim like playing cop/suspect in the bedroom (but he won't "break the rules" their either) while their son Matthew (Antonio Ortiz) is acting out at school (when asked to draw a picture of his favorite food, he draws brains). Yup, that's pretty much it.

The bottom line: Pretty forgettable stuff.

  [november 2009]  


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