Sometimes when a verdict comes across as being too harsh, the next step is to appeal the decision with the hopes of getting a more desirable response. I have done that myself with the show Franklin & Bash, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the season 2 premiere brings tonight (10pm ET).
I wrote a fairly harsh review of the TNT drama in this space last year, and I stand firmly by that criticism. I felt like the writers tried way too hard to be witty, and that oftentimes handcuffed some of the more serious legal story lines they were trying to tell. But like our legal system, I am all about redemption and reluctantly decided to stick the show out for the entire first season.
Suffice it to say, I’m happy I did. The show seemed to find its legs midway through and was able to end on an upswing. That’s not to say there isn’t a ton of room for improvement, but what hour-drama not named Mad Men doesn’t need to be fine–tuned? The best thing the show has going for it is Mark-Paul Gosselaar, whose career has given him the opportunity to do everything from the light-hearted (Saved By the Bell) to the heavy-handed (NYPD Blue).
The key to Franklin & Bash surviving past its sophomore campaign is its ability to successfully merge those two elements. Does it want to be a comedy with some drama thrown in, or does it want to be a legal drama with some funny moments? Much of that will be determined by Gosselaar’s co-star Breckin Meyer, whom I have trouble accepting as a serious actor. Whereas Gosselaar’s comedic lines hit the mark more often than not, Meyer’s come across more as one-liners you’d expect to hear from a stand-up comedian.
That said, Meyer did kind of grow on me as the first season came to an end, and I’m hoping the writers nestle into a comfort zone where he doesn’t come across as trying too hard. The good news is that Meyer is surrounded by a very capable supporting cast that includes Malcolm McDowell as the head of the law firm they have now joined and Reed Diamond as a smarmy lawyer in the group. I’m also a big fan of guest stars, and this season will feature appearances by Kevin Nealon, Seth Green, Jane Seymour, Beau Bridges and Chris Klein. None really qualify as A-list celebs, but they could help elevate the show to above-average status.
In tonight’s episode “Strange Brew,” Peter and Jared attempt to sign a beverage company executive (Nealon) as their next client. That obviously lends itself to some funny moments, but it will be interesting to see whether the actors and crew can pull that off without going too far. Although the jury is still way out on Franklin & Bash, I am willing to sustain my previous objections for at least one more season.
Credit: Doug Hyun/TNT