The television incarnation of Rush Hour, like the hit film, gives us only as much cop story as it needs to tie the laughs together.
So it should be a happy fit for Thursday prime-time on CBS, where it will follow two hours of sitcoms when it debuts this week at 10 p.m. ET.
While refitting a movie into a TV show can be awkward, Rush Hour feels smooth right out of the box. It also feels like its own show, so while fans of the movie might have some comparative judgments, the TV version stands on its own as a fast-paced, lighter-side cop buddy show.
As a point of movie reference, one might also think Bad Boys.
The first episode neatly if a bit hastily sets up the premise.
Detective Lee (Jon Foo) flies in from Hong Kong to Los Angeles to ensure the orderly transport of priceless Chinese statues. The LAPD doesn't want his help, so he's handed off to a babysitter: LA Detective Carter (Justin Hires), who has himself been shuttled off to this duty for having bent the department's rules one too many times.
To no one's surprise, the statue transfer goes south, turning Carter and Lee into an improv team that sets out to solve the case even after Carter officially gets fired for bending a few more rules.
Since Lee likes to play everything to the letter, he and Carter aren't natural allies. But between Carter's street skills and Lee's facility with martial arts, they move the case forward and cover each other's backs. Those skills count for a lot in the cop game, not to mention setting up a solid TV odd couple.
Equally important for the future of Rush Hour, Foo and Hires feel comfortable together. When CBS shows work, which is often, it's because we like the characters and want to see more of them. Like the cast on, say, Scorpion, Foo and Hires make it inviting to turn on the TV, relax and enjoy some crime-busting action punctuated with a lot of fast-talking humor.
Wendie Malick (above) plays it sort-of straight as Carter's boss, Captain Lindsay Cole, and Page Kennedy plays Gerald, Carter's cousin, a good-natured low-level criminal who serves as a periodic informant.
To the extent the show sometimes gets more serious, Aimee Garcia plays Sgt. Didi Diaz, Carter's former partner. She's at a desk job now, but she's still his best friend and the one he trusts with his multiple insecurities.
We know less about Detective Lee, but what we do know will matter. His younger sister Kim (Jessika Van), who served alongside him on the police force in Hong Kong, seems to have fallen in with a criminal crowd in L.A.
That's important to the show because it's a big part of the reason Detective Lee decides to stay in L.A. Call it a safe bet that Kim (above) will factor into his ongoing work as well.
In the pilot, at least, Rush Hour avoids the temptation to overdo the ethnic haumor. But it's too ripe a target to avoid altogether. So when Carter jumps off a falling helicopter and lands in a city councilman's swimming pool, he tells the speechless ladies enjoying poolside tea, "Crazy weather we're having! It's raining black people!"
There's nothing especially profound about Rush Hour. There's also nothing wrong with TV that's just fun.