June 20, 2013



FRANKLIN & BASH:  Wednesday 9PM on TNT

Wednesdays have become series reclamation night on cable.  Last week we had Necessary Roughness adding John Stamos for a new series setting and a bit of zing; now FRANKLIN & BASH, reaching into the same bag of TV nostalgia, has brought Heather Locklear in as a regular.  Locklear plays Rachel King, the new senior partner at the boys’ law firm and a boss less tolerant than Stanton Infeld (Malcolm McDowell)–who’s still on the show but seemingly in a diminished role–which means Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) will be running rings around her with their purportedly irrepressible cunning charm.  (Meanwhile, Garcelle Beauvais’s Hanna has been summarily ejected, the firm and series apparently being unable to contemplate a world with two senior female partners.)

In addition to introducing Locklear, the back-to-back season premiere (unrelated episodes, the first written by series creator Bill Chais and Executive Producer Matt McGuinness and directed by Mike Listo; the second written by Executive Producer Kevin Falls and Executive Story Editor Bill Krebs and directed by Jay Chandrasekhar) also moved the pair’s living quarters to a new location.  After live-in (literally–he’s more or less agoraphobic) paralegal Pindar (Kumail Nanjiani) accidentally burned down their house in Episode 1, the trio and their fellow live-in, investigator Carmen (Dana Davis) rented Stanton’s beachside house, presumably so the show could incorporate some more exteriors for the weekly frat-party sequences.  (One imagines that if Franklin and Bash peered out of their new digs, they could see the surfing FBI and DEA agents in their Graceland house down the beach.)   Also, Locklear’s character forced Franklin and Bash to put up a wall separating their previously shared office, for no clear reason as yet.

Will these moves change Franklin & Bash to any great extent?  It’s unlikely.  So far Locklear has little in the way of a real character to play, although eventually the show will probably get around to giving her some backstory; she’s just another authority figure for the leads to work around and run over.  The appeal of F & B, such as it is, depends almost entirely on one’s susceptibility to Meyer and Gosselaar as overgrown teens and their courtroom antics.

There were antics aplenty in the first two episodes of the season.  The first had them representing a magician (Adam Goldberg) who had an identical twin (the latter had stolen a woman’s bracelet)–one kept waiting for there to be some clever trick about all this, like the identical twin not really existing, but no, it was about as ordinary as a story about identical twin magicians could be.  Mostly it was an excuse for Franklin to keep screwing up magic tricks, until of course we reached the one he needed to pull off in open court.  The B story, about a masturbation tape that officious partner Damien Karp (Reed Diamond) had made which went viral (so to speak), was as woeful as it sounds.

Episode 2, which barely involved Locklear, was some silliness about a real estate firm that had a war veteran declared legally dead so his Social Security benefits would stop and he would lose his house, which they then snatched up.  This led to the heroes filing a wrongful death action against the realtor, and the “dead” man giving testimony as “John Doe,” which made no sense no matter how much reasonable doubt you were inclined to give the script.

Franklin & Bash doesn’t try very hard to make sense or to be a legal show in any realistic sense of the term.  It’s just a breezy summer comedy that happens to run a full hour and take place partly in courtrooms, and as such, it’s tolerable in small doses.  Last season, with a big Rizzoli & Isles lead-in, the show pulled OK numbers in the 0.7-0.9 range, but this year it has to hold Wednesdays down alone, which may be the reason for the series make-over.  Maybe it’ll work, maybe not; in any case, Franklin & Bash is a show that’ll be forgotten about 30 seconds after its last episode hits the air.



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."