Monday, March 12, 2007

TV: Andy Barker, P.I.

There are several reasons why I’m going to watch Andy Barker, P.I. on NBC Thursdays, even though it’s temporarily spelling the now-firing-on-all-pistons 30 Rock. (Last week’s episode, featuring Nathan Lane as Alec Baldwin’s estranged brother, was the greatest depiction of Irish Catholicism on network television since the heyday of Bishop Fulton Sheen.) Said reasons follow.

1. I am an unabashed Andy Richter fan. His first sitcom, Andy Richter Controls The Universe, deserved to run a lot longer.

2. The premise kills me. Andy Barker is a CPA who rents what used to be a private eye’s office and finds himself handling cases.

3. Andy is assisted in his new career by a movie-mad video store clerk and the septuagenarian gumshoe, played by Fargo’s Harve Presnell in full old-guy roar.

4. Any series with episodes titled “Fairway My Lovely” and “The Lady Varnishes” has a shot with me.

5. It’s funny. I already watched the premiere online.

But the main reason is Lookwell, the last detective sitcom from Andy Barker co-creator/producer Conan O’Brien. Adam West played Ty Lookwell, the washed-up star of a ‘70s cop show who in better times was named an honorary member of the LAPD. As far as Ty is concerned, that gives him license to solve crimes.

Lookwell never made it past the pilot, which aired only once in 1991. I was one of the few people watching that night, and loved the show. I don’t know how it would have worked week after week, but that one outing was inspired silliness. Helping was the direction by E.W. Swackhamer, a veteran of McCloud and The Rookies, who gave the show that authentic ‘70s look.

See for yourself. The pilot is available on on YouTube. Look for Academy Award-nominated writer/director Todd Field as one of Lookwell’s acting students. If you don’t want to watch the whole 22 minutes, at least check out the opening scene in which Lookwell clears up any confusion by enumerating all the ‘70s TV cops he didn’t play.

I’m sure some of you think that watching a 22-minute busted pilot is a waste of time. But remember, you don’t waste time. Time wastes you.

Miscellaneous: Links

At Slate, use the new-fangled science of bracketology to determine once and for all what the greatest movie death scene is.

The A.V. Club cites 14 cover songs that are better than the originals. It is policy to link to any list that includes multiple Elvii.