Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Objection, your honor! 'Franklin & Bash' is just dumb

By Robert Bianco, USA TODAY

It's great that TV has new hot-weather series, but must they let the heat go to their heads?

  • Totally off the point: Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer), left, and Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) aren't typical courtroom lawyers, but their antics catch the attention of a big L.A. law firm.

    By Annette Brown,, TNT

    Totally off the point: Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer), left, and Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) aren't typical courtroom lawyers, but their antics catch the attention of a big L.A. law firm.

By Annette Brown,, TNT

Totally off the point: Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer), left, and Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) aren't typical courtroom lawyers, but their antics catch the attention of a big L.A. law firm.

We get it, it's summer. Viewers tend to be less demanding when the temperatures rise, and to skip shows that make too many demands upon them. Light, fast, fun ? that's what most of us seem to want.

So when did networks decide that all added up to "stupid"?

Unfortunately, stupid is just one of the obstacles thrown your way by Franklin & Bash, an ain't-law-wild legal comedy starring Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Breckin Meyer as lawyers-on-the-make who make their way into a big-time firm. As oversexed as it is underachieving, Bash is the kind of original programming that makes you reconsider your antipathy toward reruns.

Lest you think this summer Bash-ing is solely a TNT affair, be warned that USA has a legal show of its own coming up this month, Suits, that is, if anything, even more inane. Which will be hard to believe should you choose to soldier through tonight's Bash premiere.

We meet Franklin and Bash as they're discussing their chances of sleeping with Marisa Tomei? one of those self-conscious pop-culture conversations of which writers have become way too fond. Soon they're winning a case by making a witness take off her blouse, which naturally draws the favorable attention of big-shot lawyer and all-around eccentric Stanton Infeld ? Malcolm McDowell, in a role that seems to have been lifted intact from a David Kelley show.

TNT, Wednesday, 9 ET/PT
* 1/2 out of four

Do you need to be told that Stanton has an ambitious stick-in-the-mud nephew (Reed Diamond) who hates the boys on sight, or that the boys come as a package with two comic-support assistants, one tough and bossy (Dana Davis), the other odd and agoraphobic (Kumail Nanjiani)? Of course not. Even if you couldn't have filled in the details, you surely saw the outline coming.

You can expect the same lack of surprises from the cases, which exhibit a dismally carefree attitude toward plotting and common sense. Even when an upcoming episode comes up with an interesting (if also very Kelley-ish) idea ? a plain woman who is convinced she was fired because she's too beautiful ? the writers can't be bothered to think it through. Maybe she's delusional; maybe she illustrates the difference between being attractive and being beautiful; or maybe she is so attractive she is beautiful. The episode doesn't try to pick.

Meyer has seldom chosen his TV roles wisely, so the abrasive and yet unaccountably successful Franklin simply fits the pattern. The real shame here is Gosselaar, who held his own on NYPD Blue opposite one of the best actors ever to grace TV (oh, how the medium misses you, Dennis Franz) and proved he was much more than just a teen-show pretty face. Now, for some reason, he seems content to prove the face is accompanied by a nice body ? one he displays tonight in a long, lingering post-hot-tub shot of his naked posterior.

We don't care how hot it is. Put some clothes on.

And please, find something better to do.

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