Once upon a time Mark-Paul Gosselaar starred in a TNT drama series about a bunch of lawyers. While Raising The Bar didn’t last, I have higher hopes for Franklin & Bash, next attempt at a TNT legal drama, and not just because Gosselaar’s hair situation is much better this time around.
The last time I saw Mark-Paul Gosselaar in anything, he was setting the mental image I have of Saved By the Bell’s Zack Morris on fire by throwing Nancy Botwin up against a bar in an episode of Weeds. I think there might’ve been a belt involved. With that said, it’s safe to say that Gosselaar’s grown up and fully capable of taking on serious roles. The same should be said for Breckin Meyer, whom many will remember as the stoner from Clueless or the slightly more clear minded lead character in Road Trip.
I don’t really want to call Franklin & Bash a legal drama. In truth, it’s more of a bromantic legal dramedy (let’s hear it for word-merging). The series follows Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), two well-meaning and motivated attorneys with a tendency to use quirky (read: gimmicky) methods to win their cases. In the pilot episode, the two men join up with Infeld & Daniels, a big-wig law firm in need of some fresh blood (young lawyers with creative methods).
While Franklin is motivated to do good and steer clear of his father’s shadow, Bash is more egotistical. Both are courageous and eager to succeed and they work well together doing it. In fact, it’s the on-screen chemistry between Meyer and Gosselaar that I’d consider one of the most appealing factors in this new series.
Malcolm McDowell adds to the cast appeal, playing Stanton Infeld, senior partner at the firm and a somewhat eccentric, flexible boss in addition to being an excellent attorney. Less flexible is Damian Karp (Reed Diamond), an ambitious attorney who doesn’t share Infeld’s appreciation for Franklin and Bash’s easy-going nature and unorthodox courtroom behavior. Garcell Beauvais plays Hannah Linden, another excellent attorney at the firm. Finally, there’s Carmen (Dana Davis) and Pindar (Kumail Nanjiani) Jared and Peter’s legal aids.
If a realistic and gritty portrayal of the legal system in action is what you’re looking for, you won’t find it on Franklin & Bash. I don’t consider that a criticism as I’m willing to shelve what basic knowledge I have of the kind of behavior and tactics that would fly in an actual court room, for the sake of entertainment. If you’re familiar with Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva, that’s probably the closest current TV series that compares to Franklin & Bash in terms of the courtroom side. In one episode, an average looking girl wants to sue her company because she believes she was fired for being too beautiful. Franklin and Bash are set to the task of investigating the matter and trying to find a way to win their client’s case, despite being dubious of her claims.
Franklin & Bash is a great show for the summer time. It’s light, fun and doesn’t appear to require regular viewing in order to follow or enjoy. I watched four episodes and with the exception of the pilot, I feel fairly certain that I could’ve skipped one or two or watched them out of order and still been able to enjoy each episode on its own. This new TNT series isn’t delving into new territory as far as the premise or even the characters, nor do I think it's trying to take the law that seriously, however Meyer and Gosselaar are a great on-screen team, the writing is sharp, with genuine laugh-out-loud moments laced throughout and interesting cases being examined and played out in each episode.
Franklin & Bash premieres Wednesday, June 1st at 9/8c on TNT.