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Crusading against the uncouth

March 12, 2007|Tribune Media Services

There's a lot of bad behavior on television -- interrupting, finger-pointing and shouting over people on reality shows and among political pundits, as well as beatings, shootings and torture in prime-time drama.

"Andy Barker, P.I.," a comedy premiering Thursday on NBC, aims to do something about that.

It stars former "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" sidekick Andy Richter, who also starred in the short-lived Fox series "Andy Richter Controls the Universe." In "P.I.," Richter stars as Andy Barker, an earnest, hardworking, well-mannered accountant who moves into a new strip-mall office and is mistaken for the retired private eye who used to work there.

Initially terrified at being tossed into the world of crime and mayhem, Andy plunges into his new role -- but with a very low tolerance for illegal, or even rude, behavior.

O'Brien co-created the show for Richter with former "Late Night" head writer Jonathan Groff ("Ed").

Although being nice doesn't matter much to most crime fighters, Groff sees it as a plus for Barker.

"His decency," Groff says, "his moral compass, is his superpower in a way.... Conan remembered that that was a move that Andy would have sometimes in bits, that he had this sort of Midwestern decency, and he would looked pained when people acted out of line.

"On 'Heroes,' they have people melting toasters and flying. I think Andy's superpower is that he is decent. He has a sense of fair play and how you should act."

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