“The Night Shift” is, as I say in my review, one of the few episodes that left me a bit impatient to get to Charlie already. I quite like the material about the victim parlaying his job in the Subway Cinematic Universe (see also Chuck and Community) into social media fame, but the killer and his motivation are both pretty simplistic to other people we meet in the series. But once our favorite chatterbox enters the scene — and gets to spend time with newly-minuted Oscar nominee Hong Chau as the trucker with an endless supply of useful tools — things pick up very quickly. Nice to see John Ratzenberger in live-action form again, and I got a kick out of how the conversation by the trash can wound up having such important plot value in the end. Johnson is like Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale at their best together, where even the most seemingly inconsequential bit of dialogue winds up mattering much later on. Not every episode uses the running gag about Charlie’s struggle to pull very simple words off the tip of her tongue, but this one sure does, and is probably the funniest example of it from the ones I’ve seen, with Charlie’s word block leading to a truck stop singalong of Sweet’s “Fox on the Run.” I also appreciate that that episode, like some of the others, has Charlie skip town before justice can fully be done, because Cliff’s hot on her trail. The show may be structured like Columbo, but Charlie is a cop and can’t always stick around to watch the handcuffs be slapped on.
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