Everyone loves Jon Benjamin and if you find someone who doesn’t they should be taken behind a barn and shot, it’s for their own good. The voice of Bob in Bob’s Burgers and Archer in Archer, he’s also responsible for the superb series Jon Benjamin Has A Van (which introduced Nathan Fielder to US audiences) and also features in Dr Katz, Home Movies and many other truly great shows. But nobody is perfect and this is an example of a rare mis-step for the man.
Beat Cops was created in 2003 by Charles Fisher and Benjamin’s long term friend Sam Seder, with the latter starring in the pilot alongside Benjamin. The opening narration sets the scene giving us a burst of information about police academies and what happens to the men and women who graduate from them, before telling us that rather than patrol the streets two men asked to be put on desk duty, which was looked down upon by all, but were told they had to go on the beat for one day just prior to Christmas – and that day is today. Seder plays Stan, who is vaguely Woody Allen-ish but also slightly reminds of George from Seinfeld with his various idiosyncrasies, while Benjamin is Hank, a fairly bland character which surprises as Benjamin is great at playing complex characters.
Most of the episode consists of the two guys rambling away, with Glaser delivering monologues declaring “All package delivery people are beautiful” and where men’s “power centres” are. The rest of the time it see them encountering odd types on the streets of New York like a doorman who becomes enraged that Stan and Hank don’t know where Sixth Avenue is, an overly enthusiastic postman who annoys them a couple of times, a civilian who panics because he hasn’t cleared the street of rubbish and two other cops who give them shit because of their reputation as lazy rubbish types.
It feels a bit like a sketch show with no real narrative as the two men wander from one location to the next. There’s a vague ongoing story about the fact that Stan can’t go to the toilet unless he’s used it before, or at least observed it for six months prior, and Benjamin semi-stalks a delivery woman, but as plots go it’s pretty weak and bar the odd petty argument other than that nothing of interest happens apart from when it ends with Benjamin reading a newspaper story about the mayor wanting them to stay on the beat rather than return to their cushy desk jobs.
It’s a mixture of dull realism and occasionally over the top characters but disappointing it’s just not that funny, the odd moment raised a smile but I didn’t laugh once, and as anyone who’s read this site before knows it doesn’t take that much for me to do so, I’m something of a laughter slut apparently. I’m not sure how this could have been developed in to an ongoing series given there’s no real plot and it’s just two guys wondering around talking nonsense, and as their various discussions and arguments aren’t that interesting I’m not surprised it wasn’t picked up. Perhaps if others had been recruited to write for the show it could have been more fun, but it’s definitely no tragedy that only one episode exists.