From its very first moments, Disney+’s sequel to Tom Hanks’ 1989 film Turner & Hooch is careful to pay homage to its roots. Much like the original movie, the sequel series begins with some character building: we see a young law enforcement officer meticulously make his bed, do an early morning workout, shine his shoes, and bask in the glory of a spotless apartment. He’s not the type of guy — nor is this the type of home — that would benefit from the addition of a slobbery, mischievous dog.
Clearly the apple doesn’t fall far from the well-manicured tree. Turner & Hooch picks up decades after the events of the original film to tell the story of Scott Turner (Josh Peck), the son of Hanks’ detail-oriented, small-town detective of the same name. Now a U.S. Marshal, Scott has developed a reputation for doing things by-the-book, but his life threatens to spin out of control after his father dies and he inherits Hooch, a giant, unruly French Mastiff (also called a Dogue de Bordeaux). At first the younger Turner believes Hooch’s outbursts will end his career, but — just like his father — he soon realizes that the dog possesses special skills that make him the perfect partner, both on and off the job.
It’s no easy feat to follow in Tom Hanks’ footsteps, but Josh Peck, best known for his starring role in Nickelodeon’s Drake & Josh, is a great fit for the young Scott Turner. The actor and YouTuber seems keenly aware that re-creating that Hanks magic is impossible; instead he combines aspects of Hanks’ performance with his own unique quirks to create a protagonist that feels both familiar and entirely fresh. Hanks spends much of Turner & Hooch yelling and agitated (in a lovable way, of course), but Peck’s Scott is less flustered and a little more authoritative, although his commanding professional presence tends to go out the window when Hooch misbehaves.
Scott does have some help when it comes to reining in Hooch. After a particularly bad day, he considers taking Hooch to the pound, but he’s met with resistance from his (human) partner, Jessica (Carra Patterson), who has a sense of humor that helps counter Scott’s rule-abiding nature. Likewise, Scott’s sister, Laura (Lyndsy Fonesca), and his mother, Dr. Emily Turner (Sheila Kelley, in the role originally played by Mare Winningham), recognize that Hooch will help Scott come to terms with his father’s death, and they encourage him to embrace his father’s commitment to the concept of a “forever partner.” And then there’s Erica Mouniere (Vanessa Lengies), a trainer at the U.S. Marshal K-9 facility who agrees to train Hooch — and hopes to win a date with the ambitious deputy along the way.
The addition of these characters — alongside a host of U.S. Marshals, FBI-types, and ex-romantic partners — helps the show feel more like an expansion than a simple reboot. Turner & Hooch’s structure contributes to this effect, as well: each episode sees Scott and his jowly pet solve a new crime while also investigating a single, overarching case with very personal implications. By using the film as a jumping-off point rather than an end goal, Disney+ moves beyond the “buddy comedy” premise to craft a series that combines physical comedy, touching dog content, and legitimately heart-pumping action scenes.
The Turner & Hooch universe has changed quite a bit since the duo began cleaning up the streets of Cypress Beach, California in the late 1980s. For one, it’s a safe bet that the audience for Disney+’s continuation series is younger than those who flocked to the big screen 30-plus years ago. Peck is not a household name like his predecessor, but his performance would seem to mark the beginning of a bright new chapter for the former Drake & Josh star. His performance, coupled with a diverse, comedic cast, an emotional central mystery, and a Law & Order: Special Victims Unit-style episodic structure make for an enjoyable sequel that manages to establish a world all its own.
Turner & Hooch premieres Wednesday July 21 on Disney+, with new episodes dropping weekly.
Claire Spellberg Lustig is the TV Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.