Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

Dancer and the Dame airs tonight (2/22) at 7:00 PM (ET) on UP TV.

Synopsis (from the UP TV website): Down-and-out police detective Rick Dancer, struggling with a personal conflict, gives up on life and his job.  That all ends when he is paired up with an unlikely partner, a police dog Princess, also dealing with post-traumatic stress. The dog helps Dancer make a life changing turnaround. And in response, Dancer does the same for his partner, Princess, as they hunt down the crime lord who killed her partner.
Stars: Billy Gardell (Mike & Molly), Eva LaRue (CSI: Miami),  David AR White (God’s Not Dead), James Denton (Desperate Housewives), Michael Badalucco (The Practice), Louis Mustillo (Mike & Molly), Quinton Aaron (The Blind Side)

Review: A nice change of pace from UP’s usually female-centric romcoms, Dancer and the Dame plays like one of those old TV crime shows where the emphasis was placed on likable heroes, action and humor — as opposed to anti-heroes, violence and dark subject matter.

Billy Gardell has a Kevin James-like charm and vulnerability as Detective Rick Dancer. Dancer was once a larger-than-life hero cop who lost a step or two after a case he was working on went wrong. As the story begins, he is depressed and has gained a great deal of weight (making him a larger-than-life shadow of his former self).  Gardell also has a nice easy chemistry with Eva LaRue who places Nicole, the widow of a murdered cop who is responsible for assigning him his new partner, a female German shepherd K-9 who is herself depressed after failing to save her late partner (James Denton seen in flashbacks) from a gunman’s bullet. Usual good guy David AR White also makes a surprisingly chilly villain as Kranz, the supposed philanthropist who uses his supposed charitable work as a cover for criminal activity.

Dancer and the Dame‘s breezy style is old enough to be new again. It’s both funny and heartwarming to see Dancer and Princess, both of whom have emotional wounds to heal, heal each other while solving a big case. And, without spoiling the ending, I will tell you that you may find yourself with a lump in your throat as you root for the survival of one of the protagonists (you can probably guess which one). With Mike & Molly only getting half season orders from CBS these days (probably to accommodate co-star Melissa McCarthy’s successful film career), I can imagine Gardell (who executive produced) using his downtime to star in additional episodes of Dancer and the Dame. It would actually make a fine family-friendly cop series. Dancer and the Dame is fun, sweet (in a good way) and Highly Recommended.

Dancer and the Dame trivia: James Denton also played a K-9 cop partner in the UP film A Girl’s Best Friend.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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