The fact that the executive producers of "Buddy Faro" include Mark Frost of "Twin Peaks" and Aaron Spelling of "Melrose Place," "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "The Love Boat" ought to tell you something.
This is one weird show.But it's a good weird. An entertaining weird. A sometimes laugh-out-loud funny weird.
If you look up "quirky" in the dictionary, chances are you just might find a picture of "Buddy Faro."
Frost is the major force at work on this show. And he's brought all the strangeness of "Twin Peaks," but with a decipherable plot.
Buddy Faro (Dennis Farina) himself was once the greatest private detective in Hollywood, if not in the world. He hung out with pals like Dean and Sammy and Frank, and was the hottest thing on the Sunset Strip.
Buddy literally wrote the book on being a P.I., inspiring a generation of imitators. One of those, Bob Jones (Frank Whaley), gets the assignment of a lifetime in Friday's pilot episode (8 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2) - find Buddy Faro, who's been missing for 20 years.
As it turns out, Buddy has been lying low (and letting himself go) in a small town in Mexico for those two decades. But there are still some bad guys out there who want to snuff out what remains of his now-pitiful life.
The gimmick in "Buddy Faro" is a good one - Bob brings Buddy back to Hollywood and persuades him to go back into the P.I. business. And Buddy is in sort of Rip Van Winkle-mode - he hasn't a clue about what has happened to America in the past two decades.
You just can't help but laugh when Buddy declares, "I feel like a hundred bucks."
Friday's episode is a slam-bang, action-filled hour full of chases and shootouts and explosions. (There's plenty of violence, but it's of the cartoonlike variety.)
Farina is perfectly cast, and Whaley is great as the put-upon Bob Jones. The cast also includes Allison Smith as a client who turns out to be an actress who turns into an undercover operative, and Charles Robinson as Buddy's longtime friend and occasional enemy.
This is one of the best pilot episodes of the seasons - it's smart as well as quirky. But the big question is whether future episodes will be as good. Launching this show was the easy part. Maintaining the quality will be a lot harder.
If Frost succeeds, "Buddy Faro" will be one of the better shows on television. But that's a big if.