Knowing that one simply can’t just replace Tom Hanks – in whatever capacity – Disney+’s Turner & Hooch reboot tries the next best thing by honouring his character’s legacy, even if it is essentially a veiled attempt at replacement.
For the uninitiated, Turner & Hooch was a sizeable success for Hanks in his more comedy-driven early years when he was riding high off his wave of “It boy” status thanks to Splash (1984), Bachelor Party (1984) and Big (1988). The film, a family-leaning buddy cop comedy about a police detective and his canine companion released in 1989, gave the at-the-time career lulled actor a taste of levity during a period where his films were either underperforming (fellow 1989 release The Burbs) or flat out tanking (1990’s The Bonfire of the Vanities is best left forgotten).
And because no title is too niche in Hollywood’s quest to make everything old new again – not to mention original distributor Buena Vista Pictures is now known as Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures – Turner & Hooch has been revamped as a sort-of sequel series where Hanks’ Scott Turner has since passed on and his similarly minded cop son, Scott Turner Jr. (Josh Peck), is in the same driving seat of having an initially unwanted French mastiff as his pooch partner.
Going off the three episodes afforded to media prior to its debut, it doesn’t take too long for the titular twosome to become an attached pair – despite Hooch destroying Turner’s immaculate apartment in the early scenes of the first episode – nor place them in the type of investigative situations that have a very week-to-week feel to them; the only narrative arc that appears to be carrying over the entire season is that of the last case Turner Sr. – and you can look for Hanks’ appearance in various photographs – was working on, something that Scott and sister Laura (Lyndsy Fonseca) take upon themselves to investigate.
For a Disney+ product that seems to be aiming itself at families – the shenanigans with the dog feel very kid-friendly and simplistic in its attempts at humour – the show finds itself in an odd limbo. It’s a very safe-feeling affair, but at times the violence feels a little adult for the target market, and sequences within the police precinct won’t exactly keep the youngens interested. Peck does the nice guy routine with ease (he’s no Hanks though) and he’s well supported across the board – Carra Patterson as Turner’s quick-thinking partner and Vanessa Lengies as a canine trainer who, unsurprisingly, is set up as his love interest two of the more endearing presences – but the show feeling unsure of just what genre it wants to lean into keeps it from truly thriving and finding its own identity separate from its origin material.
TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Turner & Hooch will commence streaming on Disney+ on Wednesday, July 21st, 2021.