‘Paradise PD’ fails to meet the modern standard for cop comedies

Tuesday, September 4, 2018 - 8:55am

Netflix's 'Paradise PD'

Netflix's 'Paradise PD' Buy this photo
Netflix

I love a good cop comedy.

When done right, they provide viewers with a little bit of everything — hordes of crude humor, a slew of entertaining characters and some subtle social commentary. It’s this diverse composition that has gifted us gems like “Rush Hour,” “21 Jump Street” and “Hot Fuzz,” to name a few.

Unfortunately, this genre is also home to a number of downright terrible imitations. Most often, these entries fail because of their lack of cast chemistry and strong partner-to-partner dynamic. While Netflix’s new police comedy “Paradise PD” does fall more toward the lower end of the quality spectrum, it — shockingly — manages to avoid this historical pitfall.

Rather, the show flops simply due to its lack of originality. Developed by “Brickleberry” creators Waco O’Guin and Roger Black, “Paradise PD” features nearly the exact same cadre of voice-actors as its short-lived predecessor. Tom Kenny (“Adventure Time”) reprises his role as the series’s abrasive and sexually-charged leader Chief Randall Crawford, while David Herman (Office Space) continues to play the bumbling idiot son Kevin Crawford. O’Guin himself stars as another supporting redneck, Robbie. Although this does make the “Paradise PD” characters gel better as a cast, it also gives off the appearance of laziness, as if O’Guin and Black expected “Paradise PD” to be better than “Brickleberry” just by not being “Brickleberry.”

In “Paradise PD,” Chief Crawford and his gaggle of unqualified and unprofessional officers strive to improve their image following several PR crises and complaints in their town of Paradise. To that end, Chief Crawford reluctantly hires his naive son Kevin, who starts conducting an independent investigation to bust a meth production and distribution ring. Along the way, Kevin is forced to confront his dad’s opposition to his presence on the force after Kevin accidentally shot him in the balls at the age of five.

Beyond retaining “Brickleberry”’s voice actors, “Paradise PD” carries over the same sharp-edged animation style. Largely “Family Guy”-esque, this aesthetic allows the show to vividly portray all of its bloody shootouts and drug binges. Still, the fact that I haven’t watched “Brickleberry” since 2012 yet immediately noticed the connection is damning for a show that aspires to achieve more success than its predecessor, which was axed after three disappointing seasons.

In a vacuum, these two creative choices don’t instantly spell doom for “Paradise PD,” but they do set-up the show to eventually fail. Relying on trite character archetypes and overused visuals makes any show appear stale and dated. Watching an episode of “Paradise PD,” I couldn’t tell you if the series originated in 2018 or 2008.

While it may look and sound like every other raunchy animated sit-com from the 2000s, “Paradise PD” does offer some laughs, mainly through the police department’s drug-addicted police dog, Bullet (Kyle Kinane, “Drunk History”). Tasked with safeguarding the department’s evidence room, Bullet finds himself absurdly strung-out from abusing the department’s plethora of confiscated drugs. Called-out for being high at the station, Bullet muses: “How am I supposed to sniff out cocaine if I don’t know what it smells like?” It’s not exactly sound logic, but it’s hilarious regardless.

Beyond its jokes surrounding Bullet, “Paradise PD” generates some laughs at the expense of police stereotypes. In addition to the usual fat and stupid jokes throughout the show’s pilot episode, there’s also some funny quips about police racism. In one particularly hilarious exchange, the department’s aging, white policeman brags about “(pulling-over) a suspicious-looking colored fellow,” who is then shown to be his partner growling that it was the “third time this week” that he did that.

Although the show does start to wade into social issues in this scene, it quickly backs-off and avoids making significant social commentary. Whether it was a creative or personal decision, this move prevents “Paradise PD” from truly making a name for itself. As it stands, the overall show is largely forgettable, and an infusion of some serious notes would give it more heft and allow the series to stand-out among its competitors.

Given O’Guin and Black’s other choices for the show, however, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen. Like “Brickleberry,” “Paradise PD” is content to remain “safely” in a crude comedic sphere of ribald jokes. That’s not to say that a police comedy can’t be successful in this limited space — only that the show’s first foray into this area is a complete miss.

This leads me to believe that, also like “Brickleberry,” “Paradise PD” will likely go out with a thud sooner rather than later. But who knows, maybe they’ll prove me wrong.