Turner & Hooch premieres Wednesday, July 21 on Disney+.
Disney’s new Turner & Hooch series is a charming follow-up to the original 1989 film, featuring Josh Peck (Drake & Josh, The Wackness) as the son of Tom Hanks’ cop character and a new rambunctious, order-destroying hound ready to sloppily sniff out all the clues that evade local law enforcement.
The new Turner & Hooch carries the tone of the perfectly agreeable film, a pleasing balance of comedy, action, and heart — though maybe it’s a little too similar for those familiar with the original. So much of the first episode, “Forever and a Dog,” acts as a retread of the beats from the movie, to the point where sometimes it feels like little more than a gussied-up Turner & Hooch rewatch.
A legacy sequel allows for reboot elements to occur — as Peck’s pristine routine-loving US Marshal Scott Turner Jr. (yup) gets saddled with a giant dog who throws his life into chaos and disaster — while still tethering to the story to, well, let’s face it, Tom Hanks. Even though Hanks’ Scott Turner Sr. acts as (off-screen) connective tissue, the show kills off the character, and leaves no opportunity for a Hanks cameo (unless he recorded a tape for Scott Jr.). It feels like a strange door to close, though maybe it was ultimately easier than having to forever mention Scott Sr. and never see him.
There are some elements that just hit differently in the modern age, and not necessarily in a good way. Watching a person’s apartment and personal belongings get absolutely wrecked for the sake of comedy is sometimes jarring, as is the notion of giving someone a dog that they do not want and are not equipped to care for. What was once a silly gimmick for a buddy cop movie now just feels wildly irresponsible and potentially harmful. It’s not a show-breaker, but it’s poor form for all adults involved, regardless of this new Hooch-type dog (named Hooch, naturally) being willed to Scott Jr. by his dad.
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Because of this, it feels like Turner & Hooch’s best material might be ahead of it. After this premiere episode that sets up the human/dog dynamic while heavily leaning on a decades-old movie and its sort of wonky, antiquated ideas of cops and doggos, hopefully Turner & Hooch can tell stories on its own terms. It will always play as a continuation (Reginald VelJohnson is set to return and Sheila Kelley now plays the role Mare Winningham once played), but it still has the freedom to free itself from elements that don’t quite work now. Even the villain in this first chapter is a callback, in a way, to the baddie from the film.
Creator Matt Nix (Burn Notice, The Gifted) infuses Turner & Hooch nicely with the “blue sky” programming tone from his Characters Welcome USA days, providing a few chuckles, a groovy car chase (though I think some innocent people may have died?), clear stakes, a solid ensemble, and an overall sense of friendliness. Carra Patterson plays Scott’s partner and mentor, providing another less-put-together foil for our mild-mannered and rule-abiding hero to bounce off of. Patterson’s pregnant Marshall Baxter represents a person who’s willing to invite both love and something disruptive into her life, which are two avenues Scott has sort of closed himself off to. Nikita and Agent Carter’s Lyndsy Fonseca, as Scott’s sister, also represents this to a degree. In fact, everyone around Scott is someone more willing to confront clutter and confusion.
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And even though the “will they/won’t they” love interest established in this first episode draws parallels to Hanks’ Scott falling for a veterinarian, Vanessa Lengies’ Erica, a dog trainer, feels like a good pairing for Scott since her job, specifically, is to bring the upheaval to order. Peck himself makes for a good leading man, as his comedy past serves him well here. The series overall isn’t looking to break any molds, but the further it gets from the roadmap of the film, the better chance it has of an uptick.
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