PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


'Franklin & Bash' Series Premiere

Franklin and Bash's new position is supposed to set up a clash between the establishment and the rebels. But they're not really rule-breakers.

Franklin & Bash

Airtime: Wednesdays, 9pm ET
Cast: Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Breckin Meyer, Malcolm McDowell
Subtitle: Series Premiere
Network: TNT
Air date: 2011-06-01

Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer) are lawyers who act like frat boys. In Franklin & Bash, they run a not-particularly-successful law practice out of the Los Angeles bachelor pad they share. We meet them as they're waiting for car accidents to happen in front of a video billboard. Their case will be built on the idea that the buxom blonde writhing on the screen at a major intersection is distracting drivers and causing accidents.

It sounds like a decent opening for a show about a couple of mildly sleazy ambulance chasers. But the set-up is just a tease.

In fact, Franklin & Bash spends a lot of time in the courtroom. Here the guys prove to be iconoclastic rabble-rousers. Except that they don’t seem to have much handle on the law, which makes them seem more like sideshow barkers. When they win a case, you half expect them to slip out the back door before everyone realizes that they’ve been conned.

Franklin and Bash argue the distracted driver case by having the model take off her shirt on the witness stand. Then, they point out that the judge, jury, and other lawyers are staring at her breasts instead of listening to the cross-examination. Instead of getting them held in contempt, this unconventional defense catches the attention of Stanton Infeld (Malcolm McDowell), senior partner of Infeld Daniels, a large corporate law firm. He hires the pair, apparently because he's bored with his existing staff, which includes his smarmy nephew Damien (Reed Diamond) and a sympathetic striver, Hanna (Garcelle Beauvais).

Franklin and Bash's new position is supposed to set up a clash between the establishment and the rebels. But they're not really rule-breakers. They’re a couple of smartasses who've never faced adversity. They’re kind of like the Winklevoss twins of TV lawyers, a bit too entitled and smug to root for. The fact that they've been rewarded with a plum law firm gig without credible responsibilities just makes them less appealing.

Even their ostensible flaws look like scams. Basic cable has had great success with procedurals fronted by damaged characters. On shows like Monk and The Closer, the leads are tortured by the same quirks that make them great at what they do. The only thing connecting how Franklin and Bash act inside and outside the courtroom is a general willingness to wing it and hope for the best. But they're not as charming as the show thinks they are, and their triumphs don't seem so great.

The antics on Franklin & Bash give it a David E. Kelley vibe. No one has done more to shape the popular view of the law than Kelley. Ally McBeal, Boston Legal, and L.A. Law have offered a vision of the legal profession filled with vividly quirky characters and bizarrely compelling cases, as well as iconic images, from the dancing baby to unisex bathrooms to the resurrection of William Shatner. They stretch the bounds of courtroom proceedings for the sake of entertaining TV. That said, they usually suggest someone on staff has researched the law. Franklin and Bash's courtroom arguments sound as if the writers have watched Kelley's shows too. We know that a defendant is innocent, so he should be acquitted based on the mere suggestion that the jury "do the right thing," which is how many of the arguments go in Franklin and Bash’s world.

Maybe Franklin & Bash should take a different page out of Kelley’s book. The Practice was a relatively serious take on a law firm, which, after seven years on the air, spun off into the wacky Boston Legal. Given that McDowell steals pretty much every scene he’s in, maybe Franklin & Bash should just reboot now, as Infeld.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.


The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.