'Steven Seagal: Lawman' Second Season Premiere

Steven Seagal's one expression is appropriate for nearly every occasion in Steven Seagal: Lawman.

Steven Seagal: Lawman

Airtime: Wednesdays, 10pm ET
Cast: Steven Seagal, Col. John Fortunato, Ofc. Brian Brinser
Subtitle: Second Season Premiere
Network: A&E;
Air date: 2010-10-06
We do little stuff, medium stuff, and big stuff. But the point is, we never stop. We're out there every night chasing the bad guys.

-- Steven Seagal

"Man! They got hit pretty hard! That van got messed up pretty good too!" Watching Steven Seagal watch crimes is almost as much fun as watching him stop them. Back when he was a young action star, Seagal prided himself on full body shots, the camera following his martial arts perfection, the ways he took down the bad guys by turning their own aggression against them. Now, as a deputy sheriff in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana -- and in a reality series, Steven Seagal: Lawman, back for a second season -- he's more often shot in close-up.

These repeated shots of Steven Seagal's face have a few effects. For one thing, you're reminded that he's no longer that action star, that he's slower and bigger and inclined to ride in the passenger seat of his cruiser. For another, you're reminded that his facial expressions were always limited. Here, he looks much the same no matter what the situation, as if he's just smelled something foul. Before you assume the worst, though, you should know that this one look is appropriate for nearly every occasion in Steven Seagal: Lawman.

The new season, premiering 6 October, begins with drunk drivers. One in particular is careening dangerously, or so Steven Seagal and his partner Johnny hear on the radio. And so they set off in search of a silver car, they spot it just as crosses a media and slams headlong into an SUV coming from the opposite direction. "Man!" says Steven Seagal (who will always be known by his full name). As the cops stand around and grimace at the victims in the SUV (Steven Seagal suggests one woman head to the curb to sit down) and the dazed drunk driver, our hero offers commentary: "This boy's life is at stake, he could have internal bleeding," observes our hero. "This is a life or death situation." By the time the fire department and the ambulance arrive, Steven Seagal has assessed, "Looks like he's gong into shock, son. Look at his eyes. Damn it." Steven Seagal holds his flashlight on the driver while the firemen go at the car with their jaws of life, the metal twisting and screaming. And when he's taken away, Steven Seagal concludes, "We don’t know why he was driving down the wrong side of the road. Coulda been drunk or high on drugs. The state police will take over the investigation."

Repetitive, melodramatic, and odd enough to make you aware that what you're watching is not reality, but reality filtered through Steven Seagal, the show isn't so interested in resolving cases or even determining what's happened, exactly. It's more about how amazing it is to watch all this diurnal police beat activity alongside Steven Segal. He describes it in a way that the actual visuals just can't match. "I knew it was going to be bad," he says of the car crash. "And it was bad."

Steven Seagal's opinions are shaped by his experience, of course, not only his celebrity and world travels, but also by his philosophy, the "ancient philosophy of swordsmanship." Last season, the show focused on Steven Seagal's relationships with his fellow cops, his efforts to teach them self-defense skills and zennish mental states. Here, he's less hands on, more, well, philosophical. After he demonstrates some swordplay (suggesting that he might cut off opponents' thumbs if his blade was sharp), Steven Seagal explains his sense of calling: "The reason why I became a police officer was to get out with the people, to help the people. That," he sums up, "is part of being a warrior."

The show presents Steven Seagal more or less as he presents himself, less ironic than playing along, with a helpful soundtrack (when he's startled, for instance, a crashing noise punctuates the cut to his close-up) and with his intermittent local speech pattern. "Why you didn't stop that car sooner?" he asks one young man, "When you saw the po-lice?" When the culprit shuffles and claims he was afraid to go back to prison, Steven Seagal tries to calm him. "How many years you was in prison?" he asks. As convoluted as his sentence structures become or how much he swallows his vowels, it's the other man's dialogue that gets subtitles, as if to remind you that he's the "other" in this scene, not the movie star riding around with cameras and microphones.

At times, Steven Seagal's celebrity shapes his encounters with regular people. When he and his partner are called to help an intoxicated man, perched on a curb, murmuring and distraught, Steven Seagal figures out immediately that the guy only needs to get home. He hands him $20 for cab fare and when he hears it’s the fellow's birthday, he has this to say: "According to Chinese astrology, you fall under the animal of the Dragon, which is a magical, mystical animal." As chimes sound in the background, Steven Seagal bequeaths advice that straddles Chinese mythology, Southern wisdom, and Mr. Spock: "So use your magic to get sober and do good and prosper, okay?" The guy gives him a hug. Steven Seagal has his own kind of magic.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Editor's Note: Originally published 30 July 2014.

10. “Bedlam in Belgium”
(Flick of the Switch, 1983)

This is a massively underrated barnstormer from the boys off the much-maligned (unfairly, I think) Flick of the Switch. The album was missing Mutt Lange, but the Youngs did have his very capable engineer, Tony Platt, as co-producer in the studio at Compass Point in the Bahamas. Tony’s a real pro. I think he did a perfectly fine job on this album, which also features the slamming “Nervous Shakedown”.

But what I find most interesting about “Bedlam in Belgium” is that it’s based on a fracas that broke out on stage in Kontich, Belgium, in 1977, involving Bon Scott, the rest of the band, and the local authorities. AC/DC had violated a noise curfew and things got hairy.

Yet Brian Johnson, more than half a decade later, wrote the lyrics with such insight; almost as if he was the one getting walloped by the Belgian police: He gave me a crack in the back with his gun / Hurt me so bad I could feel the blood run. Cracking lyrics, Bon-esque. Unfortunately for Brian, he was removed from lyric-writing duties from The Razors Edge (1990) onwards. All songs up to and including 2008’s Black Ice are Young/Young compositions.

Who’ll be writing the songs on the new album AC/DC has been working on in Vancouver? AC/DC fans can’t wait to hear them. Nor can I.

9. “Spellbound”
(For Those About to Rock We Salute You, 1981)

"Spellbound" really stands as a lasting monument to the genius of Mutt Lange, a man whose finely tuned ear and attention to detail filed the rough edges of Vanda & Young–era AC/DC and turned this commercially underperforming band for Atlantic Records into one of the biggest in the world. On “Spellbound” AC/DC sounds truly majestic. Lange just amplifies their natural power an extra notch. It’s crisp sounding, laden with dynamics and just awesome when Angus launches into his solo.

“Spellbound” is the closer on For Those About to Rock We Salute You, the last album Lange did with AC/DC, so chronologically it’s a significant song; it marks the end of an important era. For Those About to Rock was an unhappy experience for a lot of people. There was a lot of blood being spilled behind the scenes. It went to number one in the US but commercially was a massive disappointment after the performance of Back in Black. Much of the blame lies at the feet of Atlantic Records, then under Doug Morris, who made the decision to exhume an album they’d shelved in 1976, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, and release it in-between Back in Black and For Those About to Rock.

In the book Phil Carson, who signed AC/DC to Atlantic, calls it “one of the most crass decisions ever made by a record-company executive” and believes it undermined sales of For Those About to Rock.

8. “Down Payment Blues”
(Powerage, 1978)

This is one of the best songs off Powerage -- perhaps the high point of Bon Scott as a lyricist -- but also significant for its connection to “Back in Black”. There are key lines in it: Sitting in my Cadillac / Listening to my radio / Suzy baby get on in / Tell me where she wanna go / I'm living in a nightmare / She's looking like a wet dream / I got myself a Cadillac / But I can't afford the gasoline.

Bon loved writing about Cadillacs. He mentions them in “Rocker” off the Australian version of TNT and the international release of Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap: Got slicked black hair / Skin tight jeans / Cadillac car and a teenage dream.

Then you get to “Back in Black”. Bon’s dead but the lyrics have this spooky connection to “Down Payment Blues”: Back in the back / Of a Cadillac / Number one with a bullet, I’m a power pack.

Why was Brian singing about riding around in Cadillacs? He’d just joined AC/DC, wasn’t earning a lot and was on his best behavior. Bon had a reason to be singing about money. He was writing all the songs and just had a breakthrough album with Highway to Hell. Which begs the question: Could Bon also have written or part written the lyrics to “Back in Black”?

Bon’s late mother Isa said in 2006: “The last time we saw him was Christmas ’79, two months before he died. [Bon] told me he was working on the Back in Black album and that that was going to be it; that he was going to be a millionaire.”

7. “You Shook Me All Night Long”
(Back in Black, 1980)

Everyone knows and loves this song; it’s played everywhere. Shania Twain and Celine Dion have covered it. It’s one of AC/DC’s standbys. But who wrote it?

Former Mötley Crüe manager Doug Thaler is convinced Bon Scott, who’d passed away before the album was recorded, being replaced by Brian Johnson, wrote the lyrics. In fact he told me, “You can bet your life that Bon Scott wrote the lyrics to ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’.” That’s a pretty strong statement from a guy who used to be AC/DC’s American booking agent and knew the band intimately. I look into this claim in some depth in the book and draw my own conclusions.

I’m convinced Bon wrote it. In my opinion only Bon would have written a line like “She told me to come but I was already there.” Brian never matched the verve or wit of Bon in his lyrics and it’s why I think so much of AC/DC’s mid-'80s output suffers even when the guitar work of the Youngs was as good as it ever was.

But what’s also really interesting about this song in light of the recent hullabaloo over Taurus and Led Zeppelin is how much the opening guitar riff sounds similar to Head East’s “Never Been Any Reason”. I didn’t know a hell of a lot about Head East before I started working on this book, but came across “Never Been Any Reason” in the process of doing my research and was blown away when I heard it for the first time. AC/DC opened for Head East in Milwaukee in 1977. So the two bands crossed paths.

6. “Rock ’N’ Roll Damnation”
(Powerage, 1978)

It’s hard to get my head around the fact Mick Wall, the British rock writer and author of AC/DC: Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be, called this “a two-bit piece of head-bopping guff.” Not sure what track he was listening to when he wrote that -- maybe he was having a bad day -- but for me it’s one of the last of AC/DC’s classic boogie tracks and probably the best.

Mark Evans loves it almost as much as he loves “Highway to Hell". It has everything you want in an AC/DC song plus shakers, tambourines and handclaps, a real Motown touch that George Young and Harry Vanda brought to bear on the recording. They did something similar with the John Paul Young hit “Love Is in the Air”. Percussion was an underlying feature of many early AC/DC songs. This one really grooves. I never get tired of hearing it.

“Rock ’n’ Roll Damnation” was AC/DC’s first hit in the UK charts and a lot of the credit has to go to Michael Klenfner, best known as the fat guy with the moustache who stops Jake and Elwood backstage in the final reel of The Blues Brothers and offers them a recording contract. He was senior vice-president at Atlantic at the time, and insisted the band go back and record a radio-worthy single after they delivered the first cut of Powerage to New York.

Michael was a real champion of AC/DC behind the scenes at Atlantic, and never got the recognition he was due while he was still alive (he passed away in 2009). He ended up having a falling out with Atlantic president Jerry Greenberg over the choice of producer for Highway to Hell and got fired. But it was Klenfner who arguably did more for the band than anyone else while they were at Atlantic. His story deserves to be known by the fans.

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