Lawyers Gone Wild on Franklin & Bash
- Saturday, January 12, 2013
One of the constants of television is the legal drama.
Probably starting with the venerable Perry Mason, lawyer shows have the same inherent ingredients that make for successful doctor and cop shows: professionals involved in a weekly case, or two that drives the episodic nature of the series.
In lawyer dramas, despite the reality of months or years of legal procedures, the case is usually wrapped up in under an hour, placing them next to fairy tales in terms of realism. This allows audiences to have loads of drama and conflict neatly tied up in a satisfactory resolution where the lawyer hero, wins the case because he or she is the star of the show, making the genre about as realistic as an Oliver Stone movie.
Perry Mason was a defense attorney whose clients always looked guilty as sin until the unstoppable Mason, played by the imposing Raymond Burr, tore apart the actual guilty parties on the witness stand, reducing them to a confessing puddles of goo at right about the 54-minute mark of the episode.
Ever since, legal eagles for the defense (The Defenders, both the early 60's one and the wackier recently canceled series) and the prosecution (Law & Order) have pursued justice and ratings in the durable genre, depending on various leads and stylistic diversity to set a series apart.
Producer/creator David E. Kelly, himself a lawyer, created at least three noteworthy series: The Practice, Boston Legal and the recent Harry's Law. Especially in the latter two, Kelly threw legal realism out the window as he used his characters as mouthpieces for his liberal ideology, engaging in outlandish courtroom tactics justified by whatever right-wing straw man he was trying to skewer that episode.
With the new TNT drama, Franklin and Bash, ideological passion has been replaced by a near nihilistic prankishness practiced by the titular leads Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar).
We first see the duo sitting in a diner waiting for drivers to crash while distracted by video of a buxom woman in an electronic billboard, so they can rush over and offer to help them sue the sign company for creating a traffic hazard.
They're so successful at arguing such cases that they come to the attention of Stanton Infeld, founding partner of a huge high-powered law firm who sees in the audacious duo the image of his younger on-the-make self. He hires them, much to the disgust of his nephew, Damien Karp (Reed Diamond) whose last name explains his function as the more strait-laced foil who's supposed to look like a fuddy-duddy compared to F& B and who is supposed to represent the qualities we don't like about lawyers, pomposity and arrogance.
There's no doubt the two leads have good chemistry as they breezily trade rat-tat-tat lines and complete each other's sentences.
The two aging frat boys have been brought in to shake up the stodgy practice and are soon flirting with the women in the office or describing their reactions to them. Seeing one striking woman, Franklin remarks, "Bitchy little barracuda. I'm getting movement in the lumbar yard."
The boys' tactics of getting a witness to undress in the courtroom to win a case attracts the attention and admiration of Infeld (played by the eternally hip Malcolm McDowell) who invites them to his office.
Explaining their strategy, Bash starts out, "You know the old saying, ‘If the facts are against you, argue the law,'" and Franklin finishes, "If the law is against you, have a hot-chick with enormous breasts take off her clothes in court."
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