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'Parco, P.I.': A Private Detective Takes on Manhattan

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'Parco, P.I.': A Private Detective Takes on Manhattan

'Parco, P.I.': A Private Detective Takes on Manhattan

'Parco, P.I.': A Private Detective Takes on Manhattan

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4817562/4817563" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The Court TV network will premiere a new reality series this coming Sunday — Parco, P.I., which follows a real private detective and his family as they go about sleuthing in Manhattan. Day to Day television Critic Andrew Wallenstein has a review.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.

TV loves private detectives. There's "The Rockford Files," "Magnum PI," many, many others. Now reality TV has a show of its own, "Parco, PI." This is a new series starting Sunday on Court TV, and here is our friend Andrew Wallenstein.

ANDREW WALLENSTEIN reporting:

Vinny Parco may not be what you expect a private eye to look like. He's brawny and bald. His imposing profile makes him seem more like a nightclub bouncer. The only attribute he has that might remind you of "Magnum PI" is a mustache. But "Parco, PI" really works because he is a character all his own. Parco is the kind of guy who is all business all the time, but unfortunately for him, he runs a detective agency with the help of his family, who don't exactly share his enthusiasm, especially his secretary, Carol, who happens to be his wife. Three of his adult children serve as assistant sleuths, but Parco isn't pleased with their job performance. They're more interested in throwing the company Halloween party.

(Soundbite of "Parco, PI")

Mr. VINNY PARCO: Vinny and Chris are supposed to get the cameras and the batteries ready for this case. They're so wrapped up with this party that they didn't do their job. That's the problem when you have a family business. When they screw up, you can't fire them.

WALLENSTEIN: In the first episode, we follow Parco on the trail of one Michael Mantini(ph), who declared bankruptcy in order to weasel his way out of a court-ordered payment of $1 million. It's up to Parco to prove Mantini has assets and that the bankruptcy is false. How he does that is something so TV-friendly, it's not hard to see why Parco got his own show. He calls on a squad of three beautiful women to set up an undercover operation. They infiltrate Mantini's life by seducing him at a bar he frequents. What Mantini doesn't know is that one of the ladies has a hidden camera in her brooch. While one flirts with Mantini on his docked yacht, the other sneaks off and takes pictures of his personal documents, proving he has real assets. Parco discusses with the women how they can nab him.

(Soundbite of "Parco, PI")

Unidentified Woman #1: Let's talk about what he has and where it is.

Unidentified Woman #2: Yeah, I've got a plate number for the limo and the registration. I've got the...

Mr. PARCO: That's beautiful. That alone might be valuable. Listen, if he owns it or rents it or leases it, it still shows he has ownership either in another company...

Unidentified Woman #2: Yeah.

Mr. PARCO: ...or he has assets.

Unidentified Woman #2: Right.

Mr. PARCO: Now, remember, he's going bankruptcy and he can't pay our client the money.

Unidentified Woman #3: He's so not paying him the money.

Unidentified Woman #1: He has a lot of money.

Unidentified Woman #2: Yeah.

Mr. PARCO: You know, this thing should be listed on his bankruptcy.

WALLENSTEIN: I could barely believe my eyes at the sight of who I'm calling Vinny's angels. These women even came color-coded, one blonde, one brunette, one redhead. They're so larger than life, I'm surprised Court TV even bothered with Parco and just focused on them. But the network doesn't do that, and I'm glad. The Parcos have a rough-around-the-edges charm that makes the show work better as a comedy. It actually falls right in line with one of reality TV's favorite formulas, the dysfunctional family business. It's worked wonders for other reality clans, like on A&E's "Dog the Bounty Hunter" and Discovery Channel's "American Chopper." When a family fight moves seamlessly from the dinner table to the conference room without stopping, not even sexy angels can compete.

CHADWICK: Andrew Wallenstein is an editor at the Hollywood Reporter and a TV critic for DAY TO DAY.

I'm Alex Chadwick, and DAY TO DAY continues.

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