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Pilot Review: FRANKLIN & BASH

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I don’t expect anything from light legal dramas on basic cable networks anymore. And if you know me you’ll know I have my difficulties with light legal dramas. I only like THE GOOD WIFE, because it’s not a light series, and instead challenges me every episode. I only hated RAISING THE BAR for the two or three episodes I’ve watched, because there were too many characters and no focus on the stories. I hated THE DEEP END for the same reason, though the cast looked slightly better (I only say Tina Majorino). So, I didn’t expect to like FRANKLIN & BASH. It’s with Breckin Meyer and the most unattractive TV lawyer in basic cable history, Mark-Paul Gosselaar. It airs on TNT, a cable network, which is becoming more light with every new television series. And at the end of the first 43 minutes, all my expectations were fulfilled: FRANKLIN & BASH is nothing but a light series with a few characters too many and no focus on the legal storylines. And definitely some over-the-top lightness within the characters’ personalization. So, nothing new in the legal drama business, and another only average series on the market, forgotten after a couple of episodes, and probably cancelled after two seasons. An apprentice piece for all the involved.

Not that I hated the pilot, but it was completely forgettable. It was interesting for about two seconds, then it went from a TNT show to a legal drama without any new ideas and surprises – and the promo poster told me something about “justice with a twist”. Well, I didn’t see any twist, because anything I saw in the pilot, I saw in numerous other TV shows. The two heroes of the show, Jared Franklin and Steven Bash, are clichéd character, who take life a bit too easy, always have fun in their job, and think that no legal case is too hard to win for them. Just take the “bigger” case about the prostitute in here. First it looked like an easy win for Bash, then the “twist” about the prostitute’s boyfriend came, and at the end there was the question, if the case can be won. But like in every other lightweight legal drama, the good guys win the fight, and the viewers forget all about the case just minutes after the episode is over. Where is the surprise, dear writers? Where is the twist you were putting on the promotional poster, dear marketing division? Where was the reason to watch another episode of this mediocre and unimportant show on an about-to-become unimportant basic cable network? Is TNT really becoming the next USA with this show? Well, the answers lies in the success of their science-fiction show FALLING SKIES.

I didn’t like Mark-Paul Gosselaar in RAISING THE BAR. This time, his character seems more charming, which didn’t make me hate him this time. But now I’m starting to hate Breckin Meyer. Not that I’ve seen much with him in a role (I only remember ROAD TRIP), but his character was mostly over the top in his behavior, and the acting wasn’t much better. The script didn’t give him anything to work with, instead it wanted to tell us, this is a light drama. A comedic legal drama. Every single second the script told me that. Somewhere after ten minutes I was screaming “Okay, I get it. Move on!” to the screen, but nothing came. As if FRANKLIN & BASH is too light for my taste. FAIRLY LEGAL had at least Sarah Shahi in it, and she was able to do something with her character, but Meyer and Gosselaar stand with empty hands in the series, with nothing to do except having one dialog scene after another – and those didn’t even tell me anything about the characters themselves.

Which brings me to a complete different problem: This pilot was not a pilot in my opinion. It didn’t introduce me as a viewer to anything. The only thing which was introduced was the new colleagues for Franklin and Bash, because they started to work for a new law firm. No meaningful storylines were started (I didn’t count the tiny romance between Bash and his probably-new lawyer girlfriend Janie Ross [Claire Coffee], who is, of course, engaged to another man), no interesting message was given, but everything had to be played with humor. At least the latter part worked for ten minutes, when the model was taking off her blouse in the courtroom, distracting everybody (but to be honest: That was another completely over-the-top scene, which didn’t feel authentic to the genre). But the rest of the supposed-to-be-funny scenes didn’t work for me at all. They already annoyed me during the six episodes of THE DEEP END I’ve watched last year.

So, what did FRANKLIN & BASH bring me at the end? To be honest, absolutely nothing. There’s no special treatment of anything in the show, the characters are not new, their actions are true to the series, and therefore not interesting for the viewers, the writers didn’t bring the stories into the center of attention, and the style of the episode reminded me that this is a basic cable show: fast-cut scenes with a fast-cut soundtrack, and no time to think about what actually happened in the episode. No thanks, I rather try FAIRLY LEGAL again. 4/10

Of course Malcolm McDowell had to take this role

Where's the funny part in this screencap?

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Written by Christian Wischofsky

June 2, 2011 at 4:56 PM

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