October 22, 2014

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Finale Review: “Franklin & Bash”


The ratings dipped badly for FRANKLIN & BASH in its 4th season, and if it stays on TNT’s air, it will likely be because the network has too many other problems (Dallas is already gone, Falling Skies is entering its final season, and neither Murder In the First nor Legends launched well) to cancel it as well.  The series itself, while much the same as it’s been from the start, is aging about as well as frat boys still playing beer pong into their thirties, which is to say that what once might have been moderately diverting is now getting a little sad.

The series seemed to recognize that, at least a little.  Although just about every episode followed the usual pattern of Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer) taking on a seemingly unwinnable case and winning it through outrageous tactics–bringing the jury to a supposedly haunted house, organizing a strippers union, defending eccentric mentor Stanton Infeld (Malcolm McDowell) by proving him a sex addict–there were fewer sequences this season of Franklin & Bash partying with coeds in their beach-front home and romancing defendants or witnesses.  The closest thing the season had to a continuing storyline was the bumpy romance between Franklin and combative ex-DA Ellen Swatello (Rhea Seehorn, the best reason to watch the show), who in classic rom-com style kept telling each other how little they cared to hide the fact that they were seriously falling.  Tonight’s season finale, written by series co-creator Bill Chais and Producer Bill Krebs, and directed by Richie Keen, finally had them acknowledge something resembling their feelings.

The episode, perhaps mindful of the show’s precarious status, featured several cliffhangers in a storyline set largely in Las Vegas (although clearly not filmed there for as much as a day).  One tease held out the possibility that Franklin & Bash might split up professionally, with Bash moving to Austin to work for a website while Franklin stayed in LA with Swatello.  Meanwhile, though, Infeld, who had set the hour in motion with his belief that his death by a “noble fish” that night had been foretold when he was 10 years old, was last seen choking on a Noble Fish cracker in his hotel suite.  (The hour’s main plot, which had a casino framing our heroes for cheating, made even less sense than usual, and didn’t even turn on a clever courtroom move from the pair.)

It was hard to get very worked up about any of this.  Franklin & Bash is at best a time-waster, and it’s become a largely repetitive one.  The show’s swap of former cast members Dana Davis and Kumail Nanjiani (the latter, now a regular on Silicon Valley, made a guest appearance this season) for Toni Trucks and Anthony Ordonez wasn’t to the show’s advantage.  Trucks played a junior lawyer who was alternately blandly naive and viciously competitive, and her season-long flirtation with Franklin & Bash foil Damien Karp (Reed Diamond) had little heat.  The show couldn’t seem to figure out what to do with Ordonez, who started out as a seriously unfunny former government black op with conspiracy fixations, then just became a hanger-on.

Franklin & Bash has been a comfortable enough piece of summer filler, but that was before TV became crammed with 52 weeks per year of television worth watching.  It’s not so much that Gosselaar and Meyer are too old (although they are), but that Franklin and Bash are themselves.  And so are we.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."