Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Breckin Meyer and Garcelle Beauvais : Photo : Trae Patton/TNT
TNT’s FRANKLIN & BASH returns tonight with the season two premiere, “Strange Brew.” Stanton Infeld (Malcolm McDowell) would like to make Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselar) full partners at his law firm, where they have been working. To do so, the duo must earn the votes of two thirds of the existing senior partners. Infeld sends them to meet with a beverage company head (Kevin Nealon, Weeds), who, if they woo as a client, will help their chances. Unfortunately for them, keeping the client happy may mean abandoning their values.
FRANKLIN & BASH is about two lawyers who care about more than just the law, or their careers. They care about people. Their bold, outlandish stunts are part of their draw, but the real reason Infeld is so in awe of the boys is because they bring something to the firm that it’s lacking. Infeld is ingrained in his ways, though, and so he doesn’t always give them a leash of unlimited length. “Strange Brew” tests the resolve of all three, as Infeld insist they keep the client happy, and Franklin and Bash think about how much they might want a spot at the big table.
The series is pretty light-hearted. As such, while FRANKLIN & BASH may flirt with heavy drama, it stops short of committing to it altogether. Things work out in the end because the core fan base doesn’t want the story to end on a downer. The characters can face tough situations and question themselves, but at the end of the day, the good guy must win, and justice has to prevail. It’s not a new formula, but it’s certainly one that regular viewers of this particular show count on. In this, “Strange Brew” may take the path of least resistance, but that’s what the people are looking for them to do.
This does not make FRANKLIN & BASH a bad show. While it will never sweep the Emmys or any other awards ceremony, it is still very entertaining. That is why, even when the ending might seem a little too neat, it is still a good episode.
Besides, Franklin and Bash are not the only ones affected by their promotion. They have friends to consider, too. Their new position allows them to hire Carmen (Dana Davis) and Pindar (Kumail Nanjiani) full-time. This is good, because as a subplot of the episode reveals, Pindar is in need of the mental health care that will come with being a permanent employee. Some of his social problems can now be traced back to his ex-roommate’s girlfriend, whom Pindar clearly had an attraction towards. Though, how Pindar deals with the woman speaks to a previously existing condition.
Becoming senior partners is not without risk. Hannah (Garcelle Beauvais) tells Damien (Reed Diamond) she supports the change because of a moral clause that might help them get Franklin and Bash fired for good. Is Infeld aware of this clause, and does he already have a plan to get around it, like he negated the five year waiting period that would have delayed partnership for some time to come? Or is he just not considering the implications, as he sometimes doesn’t. Franklin and Bash’s behavior will not change, and to keep the show going, they will not be fired, no matter how much Hannah and Damien scheme against them. So where is this plot going? Perhaps it’s just a new source of ongoing, low-stakes conflict for the coming season.
Another great thing about “Strange Brew” it the wealth of guest stars. Besides, Nealon, Martin Mull (Clue, Sabrina The Teenage Witch) and Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, Oz) both play judges for various trials that Franklin and Bash bring to court. Kat Foster (‘Til Death) is an attractive cop that Bash hits on while fighting a case against. Eddie Jemison (Hung) is an old friend of Franklin and Bash’s, who was arrested by the hot cop. Is this a sign that good comedy actors are now lining up to appear on FRANKLIN & BASH?
Basically, “Strange Brew” is a return to same zany-hijinks-in-a-legal-setting recipe that attracted viewers last year. The quality of the stories and acting remains about the same. In short, it’s mindless summer fun. FRANKLIN & BASH airs Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. ET on TNT.