Franklin & Bash

I try to avoid commercials, but when I do watch them, my general theory is that if you can’t even create a good ad, it doesn’t bode well for your product. This is especially true for promos and Trailers. Of course, a good commercial is no guarantee the material is any good (GODZILLA, I’m looking in your direction), but at the very least a promo should intrigue the audience, make us wonder what it’s all about.

This brings us to TNT. If you’ve been watching the channel at all the last two months (as I have way more than normal, because of the NBA playoffs), you’ve seen commercials for Franklin & Bash, a new show about a couple of “Regular Guys” lawyers who break all the rules and have fun doing it.  They have to be some of the worst Promos in the history of Television.  Here, take a look at one of the spots:


If that wasn’t bad enough, the geniuses in TNT’s Marketing Department came up with the idea of having the actors make cheesy lawyer commercials that you see on TV.  The ads are purposely amateurish (at least, I sure as hell hope they are), in an attempt to capture that fey charm we all know and love from our good friends at Montlick and Associates (and their assorted brethren). Here are three of them:


I’m horrified, but I can’t look away.  

It’s not that I necessarily object to the concept of a smarmy frat-house “anything goes” lawyer show, a place where the Denny Crane and Dan Fielding could try to talk Vonda Shepherd into tickling more than the Ivories,1 it’s just that the commercials feel so damn derivative and uninspired that I felt compelled to watch the first episode simply to see if anything could possibly be that bad. Maybe that was their plan!

|  1 That was three jokes for the price of one, you’re welcome very much. I doubt one in one-thousand would get it, but if you’re one of them than F&B is definitely in your wheelhouse.  |

Okay, enough with my clever holier-than-thou “meta” opening: let’s talk about the show itself.

Mark-Paul Gosselaar is Peter Bash, and you don’t know who M-PG is I don’t know what to tell you. He held his own against Dennis Franz in NYPD Blue, he’s done many good guest-spots on various quality Dramas, and thanks to him, every college kid now knows what a suicidal roommate can do for your GPA.2

|  2  The other main character in DEAD MAN ON CAMPUS is Tom Everett Scott, a very likable actor who’s been in a bunch of stuff but just can’t seem to ever find the right role (or show) that would make him the star he deserves to be. And since I feel you need to know these things, here is who else is in DMOC, people you didn’t know then but would now “retro-spot” if you watched the film again: Poppy Montgomery, Alyson Hannigan, and Jason Segel.  (I know, right?)  |

But, c’mon....we ALL know who we think of when we see Mark-Paul Gosselaar - one of the most immortal characters in TV history - Zach Morris.  

For years I’ve had the notion that after a certain number of episodes (and a requisite amount of brilliance), actors should own the rights to the characters that they make memorable, and be allowed to take those characters to another show.  We we could set up some sort of royalties system like with songs for a movie soundtrack, right?3  Why should I be denied the Awesome Evil of Newman the Postman just because Seinfeld is no more? Surely we all could have handled seeing Cliff Claven or Cancer Man or Cousin Oliver a few more times. (Just kidding on Cousin Oliver, but now that I think about it, Alice could have effortlessly blended into most any family in the ‘80s. How great would it have been if she’d worked for the Huxtables!)

3  It absolutely sickens me that the gutless spineless cowards at FOX canceled The Good Guys - thus depriving us forevermore of Dan Stark’s ‘Stache - and Human Target. All the characters on that were great, but in particular was Jackie Earle Haley’s Guerrero. Simply mesmerizing. There is no good reason whatsoever why they couldn’t find another show for Haley to continue the part. Come the Revolution, kids - things are changing   |

If anyone deserves to live on, it’s Zach Morris, and Peter Bash is about as close as we’re going to get. He’s smart and cocky about it, doesn’t mind bending the rules and can’t seem to keep his eyes -- or charm -- off the ladies.  If you miss Saved By the Bell at all (and don’t deny that you do), you’re going to have a tug of nostalgia when you see Peter Bash.

The other half, that of Jared Franklin, is brought to us by Breckin Meyer, whom you may remember from all the way back to CLUELESS (he was the one who fell for Brittany Murphy) or as Jon in the GARFIELD movies, or the cuckolded college dude in ROAD TRIP, or as Meg Ryan’s brother in KATE AND LEOPOLD, or any of a number of other things you can look up yourself because I’m done listing them.

Franklin is the Wild Card of the duo; he knows a lot less law and takes more chances, but he has a pure heart.....etc. (And before you accuse me of being glib, you will recall that 1139 words ago I established how pedestrian the character-setups are.

In the initial episode we also meet eccentric billionaire owner Stanton Infeld (Malcom McDowell, in a character so close to his creepy gardener dude on Heroes that I won’t be a bit surprised if it turns out he has powers), who hires the boys to come “shake things up” at his prestigious but (presumably) stodgy Establishment Law firm.  

Let the futha-muckin’4 highjinx ensue, bitch!

Let me ask you something.  How cornball did that last sentence seem?  It was unnecessary, maybe trying too hard, right? I’ve just explained Franklin & Bash to you.  My Metaphor Efficiency Powers are off the futha-muckin’ charts, yo.

|  4  I’ve been saying “Futha-Muckin’” for years, part of my long-held fascination with Spoonerism and its related wordplay.  Just now, not 3 minutes ago, I made a goal to get Futha-Muckin’ trending on Twitter. Yes We Can!  |

The first one two three5 episodes of Franklin and Bash were....not as bad as I feared (or perhaps hoped, since I thoroughly would loved to have written a huge rant).  There’s a couple of side-characters have some potential  including an agoraphobic Indian researcher who lives in Franklin and Bash'’s swinging bachelor pad and never leaves because of the whole agoraphobia thing.6  Another assistant is an ex-con, a detail I know because she’s managed to mention it in each episode so far.

|  5  I initially wrote this review after episode #1, but certain events in my life have conspired to keep me from being as industrious as I would like, namely sadness and crippledom.

 6  Funny Indian-sidekick (the Dairy-Queen kind, not the ones we horribly mistreat and pretend we don’t which is bizarre because so many people “claim” to have American-Indian ancestry that if they were all telling the truth the American Indian population would be 500 million, making them the Woodstock of ethnicities and...where was I going with this?  Oh yeah: sidekicks. Anyway, Indian sidekicks are getting to be a veritable cottage industry in Hollywood. Where Kal Penn is, we salute you, and if Obama ever lets you quit working on your secret career-killing project, please come back!

I’ve taken so many weeks to write this review that I can’t remember what else I was going to say, but I know it was brilliant, so....I don’t really know how to end this sentence.

In conclusion, I learned a few things from Franklin & Bash.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought. I may (shockingly) keep watching it.  Mark-Paul Gosselaar has a great ass.7  

|  7  I KNEW there was something I forgot to mention.  Zach totally gets naked. Worth watching just for that, and I say this as a 96% heterosexual dude.  Well, 86%.  Ah, who’s counting?  |

I should also probably post my reviews in a more timely manner. But I didn’t.  so sue me.  I know where you can get a couple of lawyers.....

June 2-16, 2011

Also check out Hyperion’s recent review of Covert Affairs: Season 2 on TV Warrior

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rennratt said...

Kal Penn quit the Obama job a few months (or more)back.

I keep track of that guy, and I almost NEVER 'go younger' with my crushes.

Hyperion said...

No way is Kal Penn younger than you