We know Bradley Whitford can be funny because of his stint on The West Wing. But he's miscast in The Good Guys (Monday, 8 p.m., Fox), a new series about an idiotic veteran detective paired with a young go-getter (Colin Hanks) on the lowly property-crimes beat. Whitford can't find the humor in this dinosaur, who deplores the idea of running evidence through a newfangled computer and relies instead on old-fashioned hunches.
Meanwhile, the script can't decide whether it wants to be a comedy or an action-packed crime drama. If we're supposed to laugh, why are there so many meaningless shootouts and car chases? The producers could take lessons from USA cable series like Burn Notice and Psych, which effortlessly achieve this kind of balance.
I don't need to run the evidence through a computer. I have a hunch The Good Guys will be a bust.
National Spelling Bee
Friday, 7 pm (ABC)
The kids are impressive in their spelling prowess, based on long hours of memorizing long lists of long words that no one has used in a long time. One just hopes that, years later, they don't regret devoting their youth to a pursuit so n-u-g-a-t-o-r-y.
Smash His Camera
Monday, 8 pm (HBO)
Ron Galella is a pioneering celebrity photographer who became a bit of a celebrity himself for his relentless pursuit of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Marlon Brando and other privacy-obsessed stars. The title of this Sundance-winning documentary comes from a command Jackie gave to her security team: "Smash his camera." Brando broke his jaw, while most other celebrities simply ran away from him in horror.
One understands the impulse. Galella is the downside of the First Amendment: a goon who would lie, bribe, disguise himself and jump hedges to get his shot. The film finds its share of prominent defenders, including Andy Warhol and Chuck Close, who see artistic value in Galella's work. Others call him "a leper," "the worst kind of human being" and "money-grubbing scum."
They may be right, but now he's money-grubbing scum with his own prestigious documentary.
Last American Cowboy
Monday, 9 pm (Animal Planet)
I always wanted to be a cowboy, and this new series shows exactly what that would entail. It follows three Montana ranch families, all of whom look fabulous in their broad-brimmed cowboy hats. Imagine my surprise, however, when I learned that the cowboy life involves more than just striking rugged poses in cool clothes. According to the narrator, it involves "a determination to survive the crush of hard economic times and mother nature's harsh, unpredictable fury."
Okay, never mind - I don't have that kind of determination. But I'd still like to get hold of one of those cool hats.
Are We There Yet?
Wednesday, 8 pm (TBS)
Based on the 2005 film, this new sitcom feels like an old sitcom - a very old, very tired sitcom. Newlyweds Nick (Terry Crews) and Suzanne (Essence Atkins) bicker about his ex-girlfriends, her dowdy appearance at bedtime, etc. Meanwhile, he complains to his overbearing mother, and she complains to her man-crazy best friend.
Ice Cube provides welcome comic relief as a nutty uncle, but Are We There Yet? needs more than just relief; it needs full-blown resuscitation.
The OCD Project
Thursday, 9 pm (VH1)
VH1 sets aside reality-show silliness for a poignant look at people with obsessive-compulsive disorder. The setup sounds like a common reality gimmick, as six people with OCD move into a house together for three weeks of treatment by a clinical psychologist. But the approach is more respectful than usual, and the patients' stories are heartbreaking. They know how crazy their behavior is and still can't stop it. One fears hitting pedestrians with her car; another washes her hands constantly; another believes his thoughts alone can affect real things in the world.
"OCD has created a very lonely place for me," says Kristen, the hand-washer.
If my thoughts alone could affect real things in the world, I'd think up a cure for these sadly afflicted folks.