This summer, TNT is airing an ambitious slate of original programming, including the final season of its signature series The Closer, the launches of spinoff Major Crimes and new procedural Perception, a reboot of Dallas, new seasons of the elaborate Steven Spielberg production Falling Skies as well as Leverage and Rizzoli & Isles, and its first reality series, The Great Escape.
FRANKLIN & BASH, which returned for its second season last night, is not one of the network’s more daring moves.
WHERE WE WERE: Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) have been bros forever, and they bring a free-wheeling, try-anything sensibility to their 2-man legal practice, sharing a house with their associates, agoraphobic Pindar (Kumaili Nanjiani) and investigator Hanna (Garcelle Beauvais). To everyone’s surprise, including their own, eccentric senior partner Stanton Infeld (Malcolm McDowell) invites them to join his big, successful firm as associates. There they draw the disdain of Infeld’s uptight partners, most notably Damien Karp (Reed Diamond). Damien and others do everything to drive Franklin and Bash out, but the guys keep winning their cases in their unconventional way.
WHERE WE ARE: Not an inch from where we left them. To the extent there’s any continuing storyline in what is essentially a legal procedural, the only new development is that by the end of the season premiere, our heroes are officially partners at Infeld’s firm, which will prompt more ineffectual scheming on Damien’s part to get rid of them.
From all appearances, the series is the same amiable nothing it was last season. The premiere, written by Co-Executive Producer Matt McGuinness and directed by Jason Ensler, had two lawsuit storylines: one where a major corporate client of the firm, a brewery owner (Kevin Nealon), was suing a bar-owner (Melora Walters) he thought had stolen one of his beer recipes, and one in which an old friend of Franklin & Bash (Eddie Jemison) resisted arrest by a cop (Kat Foster) he thought was just a hot girl in a police outfit. The cases accomplished the two things that every episode of the series has to underline: first, that F&B are compassionate and non-corporate (they refuse to cooperate when the client wants to persecute the bar-owner more than they think fair), and second, that they’re charming and flirty (by the end of the episode, Bash is going out with the hot cop). Rinse, then repeat.
As summer time-wasters go, Franklin & Bash is OK. Meyer and Gosselaar are capable enough, even if they never even attempt to color outside the frat-boy lines of their characters, and it’s always fun to watch McDowell chew some scenery. The show is markedly inferior to USA’s summer legal procedural Suits, though, and if the channel guide didn’t note that a given episode was new, it would be easy to think you’d seen it before. At best, it’s the show to have on while going through your e-mail.