Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Love And The Law

FRANKLIN & BASH: L'AFFAIRE DU COUER

After more than a few stumbles, Franklin & Bash is finally getting its groove back, with a story that combines their patented shenanigans with a genuine human interest.  L'Affaire Du Couer (The Affair of the Heart in case you were wondering) gives its primary and secondary cases both a plausibility while still making the situations stay in line with the more offbeat nature of Franklin & Bash.

Jerod Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) are up to their old tricks, trying to show that two overweight people couldn't have joined the Mile High Club in a small space (all this time I thought the Mile High Club was related to the Denver Broncos...which confused my thinking about Tim Tebow for some time, but I digress).  These actions do not please Judge Derek Kohler (Don McManus) but there's no time for moralizing on the bench, for the judge himself is arrested.  The charge is that since he has been having an affair with District Attorney Margaret Pollan (Bellamy Young), he was unfairly prejudiced in her favor, thus certain cases will have to be reviewed and even overturned.  Kohler hires Franklin and Bash on the spot to defend him, but the prosecutor is Bash's old flame Janie Ross (Claire Coffee), the one whose engagement has been permanently called off.

He tells our duo that he has been involved with Miss Pollan, but that the affair began after the cases in question took place and that he always recused himself whenever she appeared before the bench.  However, at least ONE case, that of Julian (Jamie McShane), convicted for embezzlement.  Julian is a new man, having begun French lessons (hence the title) and he now might have his conviction overturned as well as having the judge sentenced.  It also comes out that Margaret (with Kohler's knowledge) has been tutoring prisoners in French...

The secondary case involves Damien Karp (Reed Diamond) and his old college friend turned foe Lance  (Tuc Watkins).  Karp is still bitter at his former best friend for having punched him over a girl.  Lance, however, appears to have had a change of heart: he comes out to Karp as gay because it is relevant to the case he's throwing his way.   The Gay Softball Association of California (G-SAC) has voided his team's victory based on the charge that Lance is a ringer.  In other words, the G-SAC doesn't think Lance is gay.  Truth be told, neither does Karp.  Still, Karp's naked ambition for judgeship motivates him to accept the case: if he can get Lance out of the closet, he will get his fellow homosexuals into the voting booth for Karp. 

Only Hanna (Garcelle Beauvais) believes Lance is gay, thanks to her gay-dar and Lance's passing her own test, which she dubs the Cooper Test: Lance drives a Mini-Cooper, wants Bradley Cooper's blue eyes, and watches Anderson Cooper on mute.   Karp's uncle, Stanton Infeld (Malcolm McDowell) decides to join him in this case, partly due to his own polyamourous experiences of which we need not think on.

That case rests on a small question: how gay can one be?  G-SAC's head (that sounds bad) fails his own gay test (he doesn't know who won Season Three of Dancing With the Stars!) but ultimately Lance is not the only thing that comes out.  Lance wanted to tell someone about his sexuality and came close to telling one person in college, but he simply couldn't.

Well, both groups win their cases: one through some genuine investigative skills (nothing like cell phones to trip up deceitful women) and one through realizing that a punch is not just a punch.  HOWEVER, there is one aspect that will probably be vital in the future: Janie and Peter simply cannot deny their own attraction, and wouldn't you know it...they spend a night of passion in her office, just like the Judge and the D.A. did once before.

L'Affaire Du Couer resolved in a pretty predictable manner (one wonders why Karp, by no means a dumb man, couldn't see the real reason he got clocked).  The cases presented by Bill Krebs' screenplay focuses less on the actual circumstance and more on the individuals: from the stiff judge (no pun intended) to the homophobic Karp (homophobic in the 'afraid the guys will hit on him' not in the 'he hates gays' definition).  It even has a little fun with the characters: how Hanna can figure out Lance really is gay is perhaps the oddest gay-dar that one has come across.

It also allows us to see Franklin and Bash as bright individuals who can work out a problem if given facts from which to work with.  It also gave us an insight into Karp: someone who sees that despite his success in many ways is a cold and isolated person, one who cannot be trusted by his best friend with perhaps the most difficult secret one male friend can share with another. 

Granted I didn't buy that 'Lance was really in love with Damien' business, and I did wonder why it was so hard to find any guy that had slept with Lance (not a bad-looking guy by any stretch) but then again in a strange way it was his sexuality that was being debated.

In terms of the primary case, I see that either Peter has dispensed with his previous lover Officer Cowell (Kat Powell) or we're going to have a love triangle.  It's a curiosity to me that Peter is the one with all the love interests while Jerod has yet to have a girlfriend of his own, or at least a series of beauties.  Nothing against Meyer, but I keep wondering whether his lack of female romantic partners coupled with his attachment to Peter...

Be that as it may, I keep wondering that Peter and Janie's romp will play a role in succeeding episodes, which is a smart move in that few things appear to have ramifications to our duo.

In L'Affaire Du Couer, the best performance is McManus' Judge Kohler.  While I didn't believe he would secretly admire Franklin and Bash despite his vocal disdain for their antics, McManus' stiff and formal interpretation of the judge lends intended humor to someone who tries to be dignified and proper (unlike his lawyers) but who keeps looking foolish with his love life.

Kevin Bray has done something that so far Franklin & Bash hasn't been able to do: give some subtlety in his directing of the episode.  Nothing really needs to be said when Jerod encounters Janie and Peter.  Their faces say enough, and there is an intelligence in allowing the audience to see or understand things without spelling it out for us.

L'Affaire Du Couer is a welcome return to old-school Franklin & Bash.  The previous episodes appeared more focused on the craziness of the cases than on the main characters, but here, the characters reacted more rationally to the situations presented to them.  The story also focused more on the main characters than we've seen previous.  I had begun to despair that Franklin & Bash was becoming a parody of itself, but now I have renewed hope in my heart. 

So Dreamy...but do they look a bit blood-shot to you?


7/10

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