'Turner & Hooch' review: A bumpy but fun romp that barks back to less stressful times

'Hooch, meet room. Room, meet your doom.'

Working with a canine partner is all about picking up on cues, US Marshal Scott Turner Jr (Josh Peck) is told early on in Turner & Hooch, a continuation of the 1989 Tom Hanks buddy-cop-dog movie.

And of course, in true and trite (but somehow fresh-seeming, given Peck's energetically twitchy performance) fashion, Scott happens to be the absolute worst at picking up on cues.

Not just from Hooch, his newly-acquired French Mastiff, but from the very colleague telling him all this, an obviously smitten K-9 unit trainer named Erica (Vanessa Lengies).

Scott, if you haven't cottoned on by now, is the son of Tom Hanks's character from the original. And no, his partner isn't Hooch's offspring, but a very similar pooch Scott Sr adopted just before passing away.

So it turns out that Scott Jr inherits not just this imposing, slobbering wrecking machine, but also a mysterious case that his dad was working on – through a bunch of files that his inquisitive sister Laura (Lyndsy Fonseca) finds while going through their father's things.

Erica really wanted Scott to ask her out, but he only had eyes for that promotion somewhere on the distant horizon.Erica really wanted Scott to ask her out, but he only had eyes for that promotion somewhere on the distant horizon.

Let's manage expectations here first: the movie was a kind of undecided serio-comic mishmash as I remember it, and was memorable mainly for Hanks's performance and Hooch's enormous movie-screen-proportioned gobs of slobber (thank heavens I'm watching the series on a tablet).

Now for the series, then. It comes to us via main showrunner Matt Nix (Burn Notice) and also includes among its executive producers talents like McG (who directs the first episode) and Robert Duncan McNeill, a.k.a. Tom Paris from Star Trek: Voyager.

And like the original, it too is a mixture of serious stuff (terrorists and violent robbers in just the first three episodes) and comic moments derived from the titular pairing.

Despite all the destruction he wreaks, however, Hooch is mostly a straight "guy" to Scott's starchy mannerisms and hang-ups.

The somewhat stiff, ambitious lawman keeps trying to shed his rookie status and looks to "star" senior deputy marshall Trent Havelock (Matt Hamilton) for approval and acceptance.

And of course, Trent barely acknowledges his existence, even when swooping in to steal all the glory for himself.

Scott's partner Jessica (Carra Patterson) sees the mountain of disappointment waiting to fall on our hero and tries to warn him, but again: Scott just can't seem to pick up on cues.

Not even when they're dispensed with Zen/surfer dude wisdom by their colleague X (for Xavier, played by Brandon Jay McLaren), who reminds me of a saner version of Brooklyn Nine Nine's Adrian Pimento.

This may at first seem like a scene from a recent 'Modern Family' episode. But look again! The kid and the dog are both bigger now.This may at first seem like a scene from a recent 'Modern Family' episode. But look again! The kid and the dog are both bigger now.

Three episodes in, it's pretty clear that Turner & Hooch has a few rough edges, mainly from the obviousness of its dynamics and the main character's cluelessness about everything.

Yet somehow, I like it.

The show is one of those where you can just kick back and relax while watching, having fun without having to worry too much about overarching plots (though there is one, the late Scott Sr's mystery case) and long-term repercussions for its characters.

It's frequently funny and the action is thrilling while maintaining a PG level, despite the seeming viciousness of its baddies.

Yep, while there's a lot of shooting and targets get hit (unlike on the somewhat similar-in-spirit The A-Team), it's usually just a shoulder or leg wound. Even in the obligatory Die Hard episode, which comes right in the second episode, and features a cameo appearance by someone with a common link to both franchises.

In short, it's a show that belongs quite firmly in the era from which its inspiration hails. And yet who would have thought just a couple of years back that today, we would rush to embrace anything that harks back to those odd times... which now seem so filled with hope.

As a certain bashful, blue-eyed Thing might (almost) say: It's slobberin' time!

New episodes of Turner & Hooch arrive every Wednesday on Disney+ Hotstar.

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6.5 10


'Turner & Hooch' is a bumpy but fun show that barks back to an era when TV series didn't all have to harvest Emmys and be social media megastars.

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