A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this sitcom (which was co-created by Conan O'Brien) is relatively light fare by modern prime-time standards. Quirky characters and unlikely scenarios (like a novice P.I. confronting armed Russian mafia thugs in an abandoned building and using a talking Sandra Bullock doll to outsmart them and save their victim) account for most of the show's laughs. If your tweens are begging to watch some adult-oriented TV, this one's a pretty safe choice, since sex, language, and violence are kept to a minimum. Star Andy Richter's superb timing and great delivery help overcome the far-fetched plots and sometimes-uneven writing.
What's the story?
Andy Barker (Andy Richter) looks every bit the sensible, straitlaced CPA that his polished brass nameplate says he is. He's most relaxed when he's crunching numbers, he sweats if he drives over the speed limit, and he's got a snug little suburban home, complete with a trimmed yard and a front walk where his sugary-sweet wife, Jenny (Clea Lewis), sees him off to work each day. But it turns out that Andy's new office's previous occupant was a private investigator, and people are still seeking his services. Bitten by the curiosity bug -- and for lack of anything better to do -- Andy straps on his gumshoes and discovers that he has a knack (and a lot of luck) for connecting the dots and outsmarting the bad guys. Andy's success rate is impressive, though he owes it more to dumb luck and the help of his friends, downstairs mall neighbor Simon (Arrested Development's Tony Hale) -- a video store owner who can relate any life experience to a movie plot; Wally (Marshall Manesh), the proprietor of a nearby Afghan kabob joint; and the previous occupant of Suite 210, retired P.I. Lew Staziak (Harve Presnell).
Is it any good?
Co-created by late-night funny guy Conan O'Brien, ANDY BARKER, P.I. is a comedy of twists and turns, over-the-top scenarios, and quirky characters. Richter (O'Brien's former sidekick) makes the far-fetched stories work, but a lot of the show's comedy is of the quirky, bone-dry variety. If you're looking for a grown-up show that's safe to share with older tweens, this one might fit the bill, since it's light on the iffy stuff (sex, violence, language) that often douses other prime-time series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about comedy on TV. Do you find this show funny? How does its comedy style differ from other series you've seen? What type of comedy do you prefer? Families can also discuss career choices. What draws people to their chosen field? How difficult do you think it would be to change careers later in life? Do you think people are defined by what they do? To what degree does money determine people's career paths?