At the Television Critics Association tour last January, Fox presented a new crime show called Code 58, which is the actual Dallas P.D. police code for a routine investigation – but it’s not a great title for a weekly TV series! So now, with the new moniker The Good Guys, the show is finally airing.
Created and produced by Matt Nix (Burn Notice), the action comedy pairs an old-school cop, Dan Stark (Bradley Whitford) and a modern-day detective, Jack Bailey (Colin Hanks), who chase and confront criminals in their own unique way.
Matt Nix spoke about his new show, and the challenges of producing two series at one time.
How did this project come about?
I originally wrote the feature script, which did not sell, I think twelve years ago. Two or three years ago, Mikkel (Bondesen), who is also my manager in addition to being an executive producer on the show, said, ‘I think we can sell your old feature script as a television show now that you are a television producer.’ And I said, ‘That sounds cool.’ So that’s what we did.
How are you going to divide your time between this and Burn Notice?
Obviously, it’s a challenge, but I’d say all of my television heroes do it, so I’m talking to a lot of them. Shawn Ryan (The Shield, Lie to Me) has been coaching me on how to do it. Apparently, it’s difficult even if you do it well. And the truth is Burn Notice is 16 episodes. This is 13 episodes. So while it’s a challenge to have two shows going at the same time, it also helps that this show is more self-contained.
There’s a small serialized element, but it does mean that we can work on tons of episodes at the same time. And so I’m really excited about it. It’s also interesting. I was talking to David E Kelley and he said something that I thought was really smart, which is you get a break from one show when you’re working on the other, and you can bring fresh ideas to it.
Can you talk a little about Bradley and Colin’s characters in this?
The idea is not that they are bad cops. Dan is just a cop who is stuck in time. He’s legitimately a fantastic 1981 cop with everything that comes along with that. Like in that era, drinking was a part of it. And he hasn’t moved along with the times. So CSI stuff is black magic. ‘What’s that? DNA? I don’t believe in it.’ That’s the vibe of his character.
Jack is also a legitimately good cop who has managed to piss off a bunch of people in the department by embarrassing them publicly, so that’s why they are paired up.
In any given episode they’re investigating a crime. And then it’s really about finding what is a really fun distance to play between what they think is going on and what is actually going on, because they’re not really investigating the crime that they solve. So it’s really about finding a group of stories that will dovetail in interesting ways and provide surprises for the audience.
With Bradley’s character it sounds like you are headed in the direction of Live on Mars.
I think that that was more of a conceit. I think it’s a cool show, but it was more about a cop who literally was from another time, whereas when I say that Dan has the powers of a ‘70s/’80s cop, what I mean is that he can slide across the floor while shooting two guns at the same time.
In general he doesn’t like computers and fears computers and thinks they are watching him. But it’s not that he doesn’t know what they are or refuses to use them. He has an uncomfortable interaction with modern policing. And I think over the course of the series, it’s about Dan being dragged into the modern age in various ways and Jack being forced to confront the fact that there was something about that balls-to-the-wall policing back in the day.
Humor is a big part of this series. Do you go back through the scripts and add the humor?
Over the years I’ve become comfortable with the fact that if I sit down to write something really serious and dramatic, it will come out sounding (funny). So it’s not like I sit down and go, ‘I’m going to make them laugh with this one.’ Things just pop into my head. And they will either be funny or stupid.
They shot Prison Break in Dallas, is that one reason you thought of shooting this there?
One of the writers on this show actually was on Prison Break. And so he was a big booster of Dallas. We were looking for a city that had enough of the crew and was film-friendly enough to support a show. And it was a happy accident that the guy I wanted to hire as my number two on the show happened to have worked on Prison Break and knew a lot about shooting there.
It has this classic cop-show look, down to the power lines in the street and old brick buildings and you can see the city in the background.
You walk around there and you think Starsky & Hutch or T J Hooker. And it’s a great city to jump on the hood of a car!