As the regular fall-to-spring TV season ends, the summer season begins. This is traditionally a time when the major networks go into reruns and the cable networks try to capture some of the drifting audience. TNT led things off last week with the premiere of its new legal drama ‘Franklin & Bash’, which has got to be the worst title for a TV show since… well, since ‘Rizzoli & Isles’, which none-too-coincidentally happens to be on the same channel. So, what’s the verdict on this one?
It’s pretty bad. Honestly, if you saw any of the ads for it, you probably already guessed that. The pilot episode apparently premiered to soft ratings. I don’t expect this one to last long, even on cable. Of course, I could be wrong. TNT doesn’t set high expectations for some of its shows. This is the network that picked up ‘Memphis Beat’ (the one that stars Jason Lee as a cop-by-day/blues-musician-by-night) for a second season, after all.
I’m not going to go into too much depth recapping the first episode, because frankly it doesn’t deserve the virtual print space. The basic idea is that Breckin Meyer (star of many failed sitcoms like ‘Inside Schwartz’ and ‘Married to the Kellys’) and Mark-Paul Gosselaar (the legendary Zack Morris from ‘Saved by the Bell’) are a couple of obnoxious goofball ambulance-chasing attorneys whose primary legal strategy is to make a big spectacle of themselves in court and hope that the jury finds them charming. Yeah, so basically it’s ‘The Defenders’, but on cable. I don’t remember which actor plays which title character. Honestly, it doesn’t matter.
Somehow, the idiots get hired by the lead partner in a major law firm (Malcolm McDowell, blatantly slumming it) who hopes that they’ll shake up his stodgy business with their madcap antics or something. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. This annoys McDowell’s stick-up-the-butt nephew (Reed Diamond), who expected that he was being groomed to take over the place. In the first episode, they’re assigned to defend an airline pilot who likes to party and whore around from a class action suit by passengers a little miffed that he almost crashed their plane. (You see, the episode is called ‘Pilot’, because it’s both a pilot episode and is about a pilot. Ain’t that clever?) As I recall, the client is actually innocent, but the airline tries to throw him under the bus (or plane, as the case may be) to protect its reputation. I didn’t bother to take notes on this one, but that’s the gist of it.
The show tries very hard to be wacky and irreverent, but it’s just another variation on the formula behind countless other basic cable shows: 1) Take stale setting and premise. 2) Add “colorful” lead character(s) who never take any situation they’re in seriously. 3) Profit.
This time, it feels more forced than most. There’s a moment where the pilot thinks that the lawyers have failed him and says, “You guys pretend that you’re not like the other guys, but you’re just like them.” That sums up how I feel about the show as a whole. It pretends to be something fresh and interesting, but it’s really the same old crap. I didn’t like the characters and didn’t care what happens to them. I have no plans to tune in again.
Also annoying: Gosselaar is back to sporting that ridiculous shaggy hair he had in the first season of ‘Raising the Bar’, which was so bad that the network made him cut it for the second season, before canceling the show anyway. You’d think someone would learn a lesson from that.