Last season, in Gabriel’s Fire, James Earl Jones’ Gabriel Bird was a morose drag of a private detective, and the show’s low ratings suggested that viewers found Fire a dreary fizzle. But Jones won an Emmy for the show and has built up a considerable amount of goodwill as a warm TV-commercial spokesman. So instead of dumping the actor from its primetime schedule, ABC has built a new show around him.
In Pros & Cons, Jones is now a happier, high-flying Bird — he’s left grim Chicago for sunny Los Angeles and joined forces with a shady-but-stalwart private eye played by Richard Crenna. Together they solve crimes and chuckle a lot; in fact, they chuckle entirely too much. Stuck in what is now a cliché buddy series, these two good actors josh and rib each other and keep up a line of ironic patter that may remind baby boomers of Bill Cosby and Robert Culp in I Spy. But the patter in I Spy was clever; the patter in Pros & Cons is prattle, idle chatter between car chases. A series that just about admits the TV-detective genre is dead may be admirably honest, but it’s also far too dull to watch week after week. D