Sardonic Sparky Hemingway becomes the unlikely Chief of Police of his small North Dakota town, and discovers to his surprise that it’s a good fit.
Several months into his new stint as surrogate father to teenagedTenisha Washington, the daughter of his deceased Vietnam veteran buddy Prez, freelance copyeditor Ernest “Sparky” Hemingway’s biggest parenting problem is his new daughter’s mediocre grades. So he hooks Tenisha and her academically challenged friends Jeffrey and Joshua up with stern retired schoolteacher Minnie Hanson, who prescribes intense study and robust yardwork. Suspecting a little romance between Tenisha and Josh, Sparky wants to keep Tenisha closer to home. The success of this plan leaves Sparky more time to be with his ladylove Bridgett, his faithful mutt Snake, and an imposing manuscript that he calls “the brick.” All’s well until a series of quirky developments puts Sparky in the job of Chief of Police, the previous chief, Jeff Bjerke, having moved over to the post of Community Oriented Policeman, mostly because the young family man needs the additional salary that the post provides. Most of the complaints Sparky handles are minor, but there’s a disturbing charge of sexual abuse and a standoff against local business leaders over a community development plan.
Like the series premiere (Home Front, 2003), Sparky’s second outing has abundant humor and appealing portraits of small-town lives. But where’s the mystery? Rosenberg’s more Garrison Keillor than Tony Hillerman, and that’s not bad.