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TV TATTLE

Disney+'s Turner & Hooch tries being a solid family dramedy and a mindless action-comedy, but it ends up as neither

  • "The memory of Scott’s father looms over the proceedings, his (Tom) Hanks-ness sorely missed, and not just by the family," says Danette Chavez of the Josh Peck-led action comedy reboot from Burn Notice creator Matt Nix. "It’s revealed that he was working on one final case, which he kept hidden from his wife for some reason, even though she seems unfazed by even his death," Chavez adds. "We’re not suggesting she had anything to do with his passing; it’s made pretty clear that he had a heart attack, and that his dying wish was that his son learn love and trust from a dog. But there’s a lot about the Turner family that goes unaddressed, despite the 40-plus-minute episode runtimes. In that time, Turner & Hooch could deliver a solid family dramedy or a mindless action-comedy; by trying to be both, the show ends up neither. With things so listless and unexplored at home, there’s a lot riding on Scott’s work, both for Scott and the show. But his job is just as loosely defined and dependent on references—the bad guys are knockoffs of goons from ’80s and ’90s buddy-cop movies, while the people in the U.S. Marshal’s office are echoes of their law-enforcing counterparts. As Scott’s more senior partner, Jessica Baxter (Carra Patterson) is getting too pregnant for this… crap. His boss, James Mendes (Anthony Ruivivar), glowers and gives grudging 'attaboys' when Scott does something right, which is usually thanks to Hooch, who has better instincts than all the badge-toting bipeds. The series can’t figure out whether it wants to play these scenes straight, or laugh about the fact that Hooch is often the smartest person in the room. ix previously showed a much stronger grasp of action and humor in the zippy semi-procedural Burn Notice, but here, he can’t get a handle on what kind of story he wants to tell."

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    • Turner & Hooch goes to the dogs in the wrong way: The Disney+ series is basically a remake but tries too hard to position itself as a sort-of revival, says Brian Lowry. "The result is a semi-confused cop drama that no amount of drooling and soulful puppy-dog eyes can fix," he says. Lowry adds: "While designed to be somewhat family friendly, the tone proves uneven. Part of that might stem from the thinness of the source material, since the original has its moments but was hardly a classic, so nobody was really howling for this. Peck is charming enough, but at a certain point watching the lovable French mastiff mess things up or steal a bunch of donuts (being around cops has its advantages on the latter score) can't help but yield diminishing returns, making this feel like a TV series plucked from the days before everyone had cable, much less streaming."
    • Turner & Hooch does exactly what you would expect and exactly as well: "There is gunfire but no killing. There are bad guys but no evil," says Lucy Mangan. "There are homages to the original but nothing to impede your enjoyment of the new version. There is nonsense, but it’s harmless. There are tearjerking bits, as when Scotty reads a letter from his late dad, that don’t actually jerk any tears because – well, it’s a show about a man and his drooling dog, and superficial emotions are the order of the day. Rinse and repeat for the remaining 11 episodes, plus a season arc about a big case Scott Sr was working on secretly when he died from an apparent heart attack."
    • Josh Peck is at a disadvantage to his canine co-star: "Five different French mastiffs play the new Hooch, and they are all as disgustingly adorable as required," says Alan Sepinwall. "They also make an already thankless task for poor Josh Peck even more thankless. He not only has to succeed one of the most beloved, most superhumanly affable actors of our time, but he has to play the majority of his scenes opposite a cute little drool monster who seems to be put on earth to pull focus away from everyone, former child stars included (Peck rose to fame as Josh in Drake & Josh). Peck is convincingly uptight and annoyed with Hooch, and has some nice dramatic moments as Scott uses the dog as a way to work through his grief about, and difficult relationship with, his dad. But he doesn’t share Hanks’ facility for squeezing life and laughs out of generic, expository dialogue — of which this show has quite a lot. Pretty soon the partnership — between both Peck and his canine co-star(s), and between Turner and Hooch — begins to feel one-sided in favor of its shorter member. It’s also possible I’m wildly overthinking this. The dog is great. The action sequences, if unabashedly cheesy, also feature the kind of solid, practical craftsmanship that’s been a Nix staple since the days when Burn Notice became the defining show of the USA Network. And maybe that’s all anybody requires of a sequel to a film whose most ardent supporters would not argue for greatness in anything but the field of on-screen slobber."
    • Turner & Hooch is basically The Odd Couple if Felix and Oscar solved crimes and Oscar humped Felix’s leg -- more frequently: There probably isn't nostalgia for the Turner & Hooch film's premise, says Daniel Fienberg. "It probably isn’t nostalgia for the theme, which is 'Dogs are smart and lovable' puppaganda on the surface and 'Dogs don’t need to worry about Miranda rights and search warrants' copaganda just beneath the surface," says Fienberg. "Turner & Hooch was part of a small wave of ’80s and ’90s films — see also K-9 and Top Dog — designed to help repair the image of police K-9 units, seen for decades as the vicious adversaries of peaceful protesters. No, Turner & Hooch nostalgia probably isn’t for the brand as a stealthily conservative trifle. It’s all just Tom Hanks in third-tier charm mode and one slobbering mastiff. Disney+’s new sequel to Turner & Hooch has at least one of those elements and not much more, but if there wasn’t much more to begin with, I guess easy-to-please audiences will be half-satisfied. For anybody else? What were you expecting? Disney+’s Turner & Hooch is not, in fact, the Battlestar Galactica of cop/dog buddy reboots."
    • Lyndsy Fonseca says working with actual dogs helps ground the show: "They just bring sincerity to the show and honesty," she says. "It's like therapy work with horses. That's sort of the point of animals. You can't lie. You can't fake it around them. If they're not calm and feeling safe, you're not able to shoot a scene."
    • Josh Peck on playing a Tom Hanks-type for Turner & Hooch: “Tom Hanks is the goal, right? He’s such a legend that all I can do is try to steal from him a little bit, because I just want some of his greatness to rub off on me.”

    TOPICS: Turner & Hooch, Disney+, Josh Peck, Lyndsy Fonseca, Matt Nix, Tom Hanks




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