Sunday, February 3, 2013

Jared and Peter Are Plane Crazy




FRANKLIN & BASH: 6:50 TO SLC

Having reached the end of Season Two of Franklin & Bash, we've learned a few things.  We've learned that our bromates have been lifelong friends.  We've learned that Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer) is the less mature of the two.  We've learned that neither he or Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) are interested in maintaining long-term relationships (apart from the one to each other).

We've also learned that giving them more money and responsibility has made our heroes more stupid and irresponsible, even insensitive towards others.  6:50 to SLC, the series finale to Franklin & Bash, is an odd duck: minus a 'twist' involving Stanton Infeld that basically invalidates Season One, there was nothing about 6:50 to SLC that in any way signaled an end of some kind.  For all intents and purposes, 6:50 to SLC might just as well have been another episode in this season. 

A clerical error by our favorite panophobic hypochondriac Pindar Singh (Kumail Nanjiani) has temporarily forced Peter to have his license suspended, much to the delight of Jarod Franklin (whose first name is really Elmo, but this has not been remarked upon since).  It couldn't come at a worse time, given that his old high school buddy Tommy Dale (Chris Klein) needs a lawyer.  Tommy is running for governor of California, and he needs advise on a scandal that could derail his campaign and his life.  It's a sex scandal, but while Tommy wants to drop out, his campaign manager Eli (Paul Schultze) will not let him.

In sealed court, the scandal is forced out into the open when Peter, now a witness, has to reveal the scandal: it is an affair between Tommy's wife Janice (Susan May Pratt) and Lauren (Tifanny Connor), who is Eli's wife!  Despite this, Eli still won't let go, seeing Tommy as a meal ticket to greater success.  However, legal twists ensure he does eventually let go...and stay quiet about things.  In the end, Tommy does reveal the affair in exchange for an October Surprise Tommy's team has on his opponent. 

In a major subplot, we learn that Leonard Franklin (Beau Bridges), the father of Jared, now wants to buy Infield & Daniels.  Stanton Infeld (Malcolm McDowell) does not want to sell, and is surprised to learn there would be any offers with Franklin & Bash among the partners.  It is now that Infeld reveals a great secret: the reason he had hired Jared and Peter is because there had been a previous buyout offer that was barely defeated.  To insure this never happened again, Infeld brought about a 'poison pill', a couple of lawyers so outrageous people wouldn't look at Infield & Daniels again.

Guess who the poison pill are.

Now they have to work to get this deal off.  With a little help from Infeld Daniels New York partner/Franklin squeeze Emily Adams (Shiri Appleby) and the daffy partner Brock Daniels (Steve Talley), son of the co-founder, and some work from our two attorneys, the deal is grounded (so to speak).

6:50 to SLC to its great credit does tackle some parts that have not been explored.  We get a great moment when Roger Dempsey (Erich Anderson), one of the undecided partners, is confronted by Jared and Peter.  Roger is one of the uncommitted votes, but by impersonating his father Jared got Roger to signal he's going for the merger. 

When Roger is confronted by Jared and Peter, Roger lets them have it.  When they tell him he's going to betray them, Roger tells them there is no "us".  Not once, he tells them, have they ever invited any of the partners to one of their legendary parties.  Ever since they've showed up Franklin and Bash have treated their fellow co-workers as 'the enemy', going out of their way to isolate themselves from everyone at the law firm.  While Damien Karp (Reed Diamond) has been the main adversary to Jared and Peter, when it comes to everyone else at the firm, they have indeed been leaving people out.

This is something I don't think either Jared and Peter have ever confronted, and truth be told I figure most of the audience has never given it much thought to the fact that in all the time they have been at Infeld Daniels, they have continuously kept themselves out from among everyone else.  Sure, they can host things for the interns, but on the whole Jared and Peter have lived in a bubble to where with the occasional entrance of Hanna (Garcelle Beauvais), no one else has been able to penetrate.  Thus the contempt and dislike they have fostered themselves with everyone else has never been tackled before.  In fairness, one would have figured that in all their parties they would have invited people they worked with.  The fact that they haven't, and the fact that it is only now when the firm is in danger that they've been confronted with their own snobbishness, pushes 6:50 to SLC higher than most Franklin & Bash episodes.

This thread in 6:50 to SLC is something that is worth exploring, or rather was worth exploring throughout the season.  The fact that it is barely touched on in Dana Calvo and co-creator Kevin Falls' screenplay is to my mind a lost opportunity.  Why they opted to throw this rather important and consequential plot point only to not A.) introduce it earlier and/or B.) drop it by the end is rather unfortunate.  That is what brings 6:50 to SLC down.

What also brings the episode down is that the two stories (Tommy and the hostile takeover) never appear to come together.  This isn't a surprise because we always have a main story and a secondary story, but 6:50 to SLC never decided which was which.  The hostile takeover SHOULD be the main story, but because the majority of that story takes place during the second half  of the episode it becomes a wonder as to why we had the Tommy Dale story to begin with.

Furthermore, once we get deep into the takeover story (which in fairness opens 6:50 to SLC but then is held back for the Tommy Dale story), we get a twist as silly and pointless and to my mind as unfair as anything involving the revived Doctor Who (in particular anything related to River Song).  All this time we figured Infeld LIKED Jared and Peter and that he brought them in to bring new life to his firm.  Now we find that it was really to scare off potential buyers? It just seems to invalidate everything we've known about Infeld and how it all got started.  Somehow, I didn't enjoy that he really didn't trust Franklin and Bash and that Infeld was closer to Karp's way of thinking than not.

However, I enjoyed Diamond's performance, which I think is the best of the season.  First, given how formal and stiff he is (in particular towards Peter and Jared), I was taken aback when he actually mentioned Bart Simpson (comparing Franklin to him).  One wouldn't have imagined Damien Karp would know The Simpsons.  Second, when Franklin accuses Karp of being a backstabber, Damien Karp lays down the law.

"To be clear I was only stabbing you in the back because I ran out of room in the front.  And actually it's your behavior that's put this firm in jeopardy, not someone taking notes".  This was in response to their accusation that the secret file he and Hanna had kept of them was what triggered the partners to think of selling out.  Diamond's delivery is so sharp, both hilarious and serious that it stays true to Karp's personality. 

However, it is unfortunate that the more human aspects were not explored.  For example, Infeld should have brought the conflict between Karp and the boys to some sort of detente a long time ago.  The fact that he stayed out of things as these two camps held a cold war was highly irresponsible.

Even worse, what is suppose to be the 'genius idea' to stop the sale (which we already know is coming despite Infeld's 'betrayal') was not believable.  As good as Jared and Peter are, it is highly doubtful...hell, it is completely unbelievable that they could have so charmed the flight crew as to let them play like children and force the flight to make an emergency landing.

In terms of performances, two things come to mind on Chris Klein.  First: I never realized what a pleasant, deep voice he has.  Two: he has never been accused of being a great actor, and here he didn't leave a great impression since he was playing a slightly dim individual.  This is the second year where a former teen heartthrob wraps up the season (after James Van Der Beek closed Season One), and while there was never really awful about Klein, he wasn't called on to be great.  Besides, the part itself was rather inconsequential.

In regards to Appleby, I thought she did well handling the comedy and drama of the episode, but am slightly concerned that there was the suggestion that she will become either a regular or semi-regular character.  Pindar openly calls her the "Yoko Ono" of the group to her face, and it also is a puzzle as to why the sensible Emily would be with such a goofball as the highly immature Jared Franklin (and to add insult to injury, the fact that his real first name is Elmo was not mentioned makes that one-off joke even less funny).

By the end of 6:50 to SLC, Jared and Peter finally do something they've never done before: invite the firm to their man-cave (even Karp, who is thankful the firm is saved although he won't go into the hot tub).  On the whole, 6:50 to SLC was slightly above the stories that our two heroes have found themselves in, but I was not enthusiast over it.  In other words, they missed more than the flight...            

Jared and Peter forgive Stanton.
This fan...


6/10

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