Thursday, June 2, 2011

New TV Scorecard: Franklin & Bash

There are, as it turns out, quite a few new series premiering this summer that I want to check out. I thought it might be fun to give each new show a quick rating once it's premiere has aired.

The summer season kicked off last night with the premiere of TNT's Franklin & Bash. TNT brings us a lighter lawyer drama (gee, who would have imagined we be getting a new lawyer drama this season? *insert eye-roll here*) in the vein of Boston Legal and The Defenders starring television vets Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Breckin Meyer. There is a true glut of law drama out there on television these days, even during the summer seasons, and if it wasn't for my love of both of the leads, I would probably have passed this up. But the casting genie struck again and so here we are.

Overall I found it mostly pretty enjoyable. There wasn't anything terribly innovative or unique about it, but it puts together the many tropes about funny lawyer shows together fairly well. Add to that a pretty impressive cast and it has potential. I definitely would like to see some of the more ridiculous elements toned down a bit going forward--look, I don't mind a random shot of MPG's naked behind, I am only human, but it was terribly unnecessary to the story. There was no real apparent reason for him to have actually been naked in that hot tub, other than as a "shock" factor.

The basic plot is that Gosselaar and Meyer play two oddball and underdog attorneys whose strange, yet often successful, antics attract the attention of the senior partner of a prestigious law firm. He drafts them to come work for him, to invigorate his practice. They clash with some of the more stick-in-the mud (and less scrupulous) employees of the new establishment. Now they must try to find their way among the big leagues whilst still maintaining their heart and integrity, and without conforming. Yada, yada, yada.

Like I said, not so much original, but amusing. There seems to be a pretty outstanding chemistry between Gosselaar and Meyer.  I totally buy that they have been friends since childhood. Here is a bromance of epic proportions in the making. Reed Diamond, who put in lovely turns on Journeyman and Dollhouse makes an excellent foil to the goofy pairing of the leads.

If the show can even out and stop trying so hard to be "cool" then it could turn out to be a really fun romp. Definitely more The Defenders and less Boston Legal, please.

Things I would like to see by the end of the season:
  1. Stop trying to be so "in your face." I think someone behind the scenes believes they were shooting a show for MTV or something. Just because these guys are partying and hanging out naked in hot tubs and having random hook-ups with new coworkers doesn't mean it needs to be portrayed so...crassly.
  2. Likewise, let's cut out a little of the cartoonish nature. These are adults, it is okay if they behave that way. Yes, lawyers can cut loose and have fun, but that doesn't mean they should be acting like college kids. It also means that the dominatrix being charged with prostitution should not show up for her first day in court looking like, well, a hooker. 
  3. Please tone down or just get rid of Gosselaar's character's crush on his old flame. I can see this being his big character "development" and I just really hope I am wrong. Unless said development is him accepting that she has moved on and doing likewise, I am really not interested. I have seen it a million times already (with this same actor, even). It has been done to death, and it is lazy writing. Let's just skip it, okay?
I will keep watching for now. It is Breckin Meyer and Mark-Paul Gosselaar, of course I will keep watching. Hopefully the show can find its legs quickly and will outlast many of these actors' other attempts at series. There is great potential here, this could be a wondrous quirky, amusing, entertaining show, if everybody will just calm down a teeny bit and refrain from going overboard with the stories and characters.

First impression rating: 7/10 (and a pair of swimming trunks for MPG).

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