Review: Franklin and Bash 1×1

Franklin and Bash

In the US: Wednesdays, 9/8c, TNT

Crazy, unconventional lawyers who don’t play by the rules and who fight for the little guy! Yay! That’s what we need more of, isn’t it? That hasn’t been done to death with Eli Stone, Harry’s Law, The Deep End and The Defenders in just the last three years alone, has it?

Why no, Sir! In fact, what the genre of crazy, unconventional lawyers who don’t play by the rules and who fight for the little guy has in fact been missing all these years – something you probably hadn’t realised until TNT decided to tell you this by thrusting new show Franklin and Bash and assorted breasts in your face – is crazy, unconventional fratboy lawyers who don’t play by the rules and who fight for the little guy.

Yes, Franklin and Bash are the kind of lawyers who’ll get women to take their clothes off in court and jiggle their breasts at the jury, who’ll hit on women they work with and have naked hot tub parties, in a show that tries vainly and pathetically to be funny, while Malcolm McDowell phones in his part in between lighting cigars with the vast stack of dollar bills he must be earning.

Sigh. Cue the trailer.

When they’re not hanging out at their favorite hot dog stand pontificating on what they’d go through to enjoy a night with their favorite female celebrities, Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) are chasing down their latest clients… sometimes literally. With business cards in hand, they’re ready to nab a client within seconds after a car accident, arrest for solicitation or any other incident where their legal services may be needed. Once in the courtroom, they show their flair for the dramatic and the shocking.

Peter has a knack for connecting with jury and judge, while Jared loves sticking it to authority every chance he gets. Despite their bad-boy antics, brash presentation and devil-may-care attitudes, Jared and Peter are good lawyers who are willing to do anything for a client, no matter who the client might be. That quality catches the attention of Stanton Infeld (Malcolm McDowell), a Renaissance man and the patriarch of Infeld Daniels, one of the top law firms in Los Angeles. He sees a lot of himself in the young men and decides to recruit the pair to bring a fresh energy to the firm. Jared and Peter are joined by their two legal aides, the brilliant, brassy Carmen (Dana Davis) and the agoraphobic, verminophobic Pindar (Kumail Nanjiani).

Infeld’s decision to take on fresh talent doesn’t sit well with his nephew, Damien Karp (Reed Diamond), a lawyer who has his own plans for the firm and a particularly shifty way of doing business. The arrival of Jared and Peter also threatens Karp’s romantic – albeit celibate – relationship with Hanna Linden (Garcelle Beauvais), a lawyer who takes an immediate liking to Jared.

In their new digs at Infeld Daniels, Jared and Peter handle a variety of clients, from a woman fired for being too beautiful to a family feud over a cherished baseball. But their story is really about the incredible friendship they’ve built and how their relationship is challenged now that they find themselves working in a more corporate atmosphere. Only time will tell if these devoted buddies can survive in this new environment.

Is it any good?
No. Are you crazy? In no sense is this good. It’s unoriginal, stupid, sexist and borderline racist. Not only that, it really has no clear idea what it’s doing and the worst crime of all, isn’t even funny.

So we have Breckin Meyer and Mark-Paul Gosselaar (last seen as, you guessed it, a lawyer on TNT’s now-cancelled Raising the Bar) as a pair of best friends who run a law firm out of what is basically a frat house with their stereotypical comedy Indian assistant Pindar – he’s agoraphobic and can’t talk to girls, you know – and their cipherous clever, personality-free black female assistant Carmen (Dana Davis from the ill-favoured second season of Heroes). There, they hang out occasionally ambulance-chasing for no really well explored business reason other than to prosecute big businesses for either perfectly acceptable reasons or reasons that will have you demand an instant change in American tort law.

Their sexist, demeaning activities remind big lawyer honcho Malcolm McDowell of what he was like when he was a young lawyer, so he hires them all so they can shake up his law firm and create a new ‘energy’ there. Which they do. Breckin Meyer’s character’s energy largely involves parties, karaoke and product placement from games console manufacturers; Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s character’s energy largely revolves around pining after his ex-girlfriend, even in while he’s arguing cases against her to the jury. Meanwhile, Malcolm McDowell, sort of like a hetero, bewildered, incredibly rich Quentin Crisp, wanders from scene to scene, exhibiting a new eccentricity or slice of ham each time as though he’s practising them for a demonstration at a later In The Actor’s Studio masterclass.

Everything on the legal side of things is forgettable and utterly predictable beyond guessing what insanely implausible bit of fratboy behaviour they’re going to deploy this time; everything outside the courtroom is mind-numbingly dull, because the jokes and characterisation are so badly handled – “If you could date Scarlett Johansson, would you be prepared to be punched in the face by Mike Tyson?” being an example of the comedy dialogue designed to show us what great buddies Franklin and Bash are, for example.

Meyer and Gosselaar, it has to be said, are fine and have great chemistry. But Alexandra Holden (best known as Ross’s very young girlfriend in Friends) as random female attorney is wasted, as are, in fact, every other actress in the cast list, since they only get to have one personality between all the lot of them, and that doesn’t even get to do much; Reed Diamond gets to be exactly the same as he was on 24. And Dollhouse. And Journeyman; and Kumail Nanjiani is dreadful and should be banned from acting ever again.

Sure, it’s the “Summer season” so people might want something a little lighter like Royal Pains to watch for example, but that doesn’t mean that every Summer TV show should be complete bollocks. This is a terrible, terrible programme, lazy and poorly written, and if it weren’t for the fact Alex Breckenridge is going to be in an episode, I wouldn’t even consider watching another second of the series. Avoid (I’ll let you know when she’s in it).


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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