August 14, 2014

THE SKED Season Premiere Review: “Franklin & Bash”


FRANKLIN & BASH:  Wednesday 10PM on TNT

Until very recently, FRANKLIN & BASH was what people had in mind when they talked about “Summer TV.”  It’s a fluffy, undemanding procedural whose buddy heroes Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Peter Bash (Mark Paul Gosselaar) are at least as interested in partying as in winning cases, and whose specialty in the courtroom is the creation of outrageous stunts that somehow lead them to victory, albeit often with jail time for contempt of court (last night’s involved a cohort invading the courtroom as a “zombie,” and ripping off Franklin’s arm).  For its 4th season, the show has undergone something of a housecleaning, but nevertheless the fun is fraying at the edges.

Last night’s season premiere, written by series creators Kevin Falls and Bill Chais and directed by Kevini Bray, found most of the Franklin & Bash supporting cast exited or reshuffled.  Heather Locklear’s stay as a firm partner turned out to be a brief one, investigator Carmen and paralegal Pindar are gone (in actor Kumail Nanjiani’s case, to the far greener pastures of Silicon Valley), and Franklin & Bash foe Damien Karp (Reed Diamond) now works for a competing firm.  Meanwhile, eccentric mentor Stanton Infeld (Malcolm McDowell) has been disbarred, working at an auto repair shop.  That seems likely to be reversed, and can’t come soon enough, since Franklin and Bash being temporary heads of the firm isn’t working for a show where they’re meant to be gadflies, not voices of authority.

The show has also added two new regulars:  Anthony Ordonez as Mundy, the new investigator, whose shtick of being super-stealthy (he’s supposed to have come to the firm from government work) isn’t very amusing, and Toni Trucks as Anita Haskins, a new associate only introduced at the very end of the season premiere.  The producers’ best move appears to be a temporary one:  Rhea Seehorn, who’d been a prosecutor and sometime lover of Franklin’s in earlier seasons, is now a firm partner, and her astringency is something the show needs, but Seehorn is still listed as a guest star, so it’s not clear how long she’ll be around.

Last night’s episode was notable for its near-total lack of carousing (we never even saw the Franklin & Bash party central house).  Apart from a scene where both heroes got stoned with pot dealer clients toward the end, the focus was on the pair as lawyers, not necessarily a good idea, but one that may be acknowledging the fact that Meyer and Gosselaar are getting to the point where they’re even overaged to be overaged frat boys.  The storylines were the usual silliness, with the pair representing a down-on-his-luck archeologist who might or might not be crazy and might or might not have a priceless artifact in his possession; as soon as you heard that there was a curse that would bring down ghostly armies if a god’s name were repeated 12 times in a minute, it was just a matter of time for that to be critical to the plot.  The other story, involving the aforementioned pot dealers, was even slimmer, but watching Seehorn interact with “The Bone,” as the client was named, had some amusement.

Franklin & Bash gets an OK rating for TNT, never a big hit but enough to hold on.  It’s being paired this summer with the much more serious spy drama Legends, which may not be the most compatible audience for its hijinks.  In any case, it seems like the time may be coming for the network and producers to start working on the series’ final motion to dismiss.


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."