Sticking: Franklin & Bash

Posted on June 27, 2012

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We started watching this show because, one day, I got bored.

I remember there being a number of lawyer-oriented primetime soaps when I was growing up, LA Law perhaps the most memorable. I didn’t watch any of them.

So, when TNT started advertising a show about lawyers, I figured it would be the typical breezy, shallow, summer fare where pretty people with high-paying jobs do very little work, sleep with each other, and bitch about their awesome lives. I’d seen the young, irreverent, guys schtick before.

Then, as I say, I got bored. I tried out the premier OnDemand. I actually laughed out loud during the show, got my wife to watch it, and we’re hooked.

We Watched It

Mark-Paul Gosselaar plays Peter Bash. Breckin Meyer plays Jared Franklin. Their characters are childhood buddies. Both grew up to be lawyers, and founded an ambulance-chasing legal practice known for its courtroom shenanigans. They have a felon-turned-investigator (Carmen Phillips, played by Dana Davis) and an agoraphobic clerk/researcher (Pindar “Pindy” Singh, played by Kumail Nanjiani).

In the premiere, Stanton Infeld (Malcolm McDowell) of prestigious law firm Infeld Daniels decides that Franklin & Bash are just what his firm needs – new blood with creative solutions to untenable court cases.

They are a threat to established senior lawyers within the firm (Damien Karp, Stanton’s nephew, played by Reed Diamond; and Hanna Linden, played by Garcelle Beauvais). Their style of working clashes with the buttoned-down established law firm. The cases they take, or to which the firm assigns them, are challenging.

And, of course, there are the relationships – romantic and platonic; and storylines that advance characters. Will Peter get back together with Janie? Will Pindy continue recovering from his various phobias? Will Carmen’s past come back to haunt her? Just how crazy is Stanton Infeld, and what’s really going on with making Franklin & Bash partners in the firm?

Sticking

I think it should be pretty obvious why we’re sticking with this, but just in case…

The chemistry between Gosselaar and Meyer is terrific. Their banter sounds like the banter of longtime bros.

While none of the stories is particularly gripping or intricate, there’s so much going on in every episode that the show stays watchable.

The other relationships flesh out the show, and at this point, we want to know more about everyone’s past. In this season, we’re learning where Pindar’s fears come from, and he’s overcoming them, gradually. He actually appeared in court this season.

WTF

I have two lingering doubts about this show.

First, it rarely rises above its origins as a law show. You’ve seen most of the legal challenges before. Granted, this show puts a nice twist on some of them. The custody battle is over a dog. The innocent man who’s hiding something is a Real Life Super Hero. What keeps us watching is how Franklin & Bash prove their side of the case. Their courtroom pyrotechnics are often hilarious, and usually outrageous.

I wonder how long the writers can keep that up. Franklin & Bash could jump the shark very easily by abandoning those trademark pyrotechnics, by going too far, or by giving up on logic and proof.

Second, it didn’t rise above its format as an hour-long, weekly, comedy-drama in the first season. We are seeing, now, signs of an ongoing storyline. Something really is going on behind the scenes at Infeld Daniels, and Stanton Infeld is in the middle of it. That’s good. Ongoing stories lift TV shows above the need to wrap everything up neatly in 42 minutes.

I hope the writers will keep that up.

Thoughts?

What shows do you watch that you thought you never would?

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Posted in: television