Sunday, July 7, 2013

Franklin & Bash: Good Lovin' Review


And That's Why Your Mother Is a Tramp...

On our third episode of the third season of Franklin & Bash, I was taken by surprise that I actually enjoyed this episode.  We still have wild leaps of logic and despite some 'hate sex' with a woman he can't stand we get more evidence that Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer) may be a homosexual in denial.  Good Lovin' I think has at its core a continuing effort to humiliate Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) by putting him in one embarrassing situation after another, mostly at the hands of his mother Colleen (Jane Seymour).   Yes, just about everyone in Good Lovin' borders on the insane, but for once we get some twists that make the episode entertaining.

Our boys are enjoying 'human bowling' on the beach, not being helped by an uncooperative Pindar (Kumail Nanjiani), when Peter Bash's mother calls.  She's been arrested for prostitution!  At the jail, she makes it clear she is NOT a prostitute.  She's a sex surrogate (someone's been watching The Sessions, haven't they...).  In any case, a deeply embarrassed Bash and an especially giddy and snarky Franklin must defend Mrs. Bash from these charges. 

These charges may be trumped up ones, brought by Assistant District Attorney Brad Hewitt (Brian Howe), who is Bash's sworn enemy.  Colleen has powerful friends on her side, like a client, the District Attorney himself, Harrison Kingel (Jeff Doucette), but he doesn't want people to be aware of his 'issues', so he uses executive privilege.  ADA Hewitt also has executive privilege, so his long and bitter feud (one sides, like mine with Richard Roeper) can't play a part in all this.

Luckily, co-counsel has an in with the D.A.'s office, and when I mean 'in', I MEAN 'in'.  Despite her own bitter hatred towards Mini-Law, the prosecutor on the case, Ellen Swatello (Rhea Seehorn) and Jared (or should I say, Elmo) begin having 'hate sex', which is when you have wild, deranged sex with someone you loath.  They both hate themselves (and each other) after their romps, but during, it is MASSIVE.  However, Hewitt finds out that Swatello has unwittingly (since Franklin has no problem going through her things when she's not looking) been feeding his enemies information about Colleen's 'client list'.  Either she reveals her sources or faces bigger charges. 

A little lesbo action never hurt anyone...
Things get worse for Mrs. Bash when the charges are increased from mere prostitution to pandering (ie. she's gone from the Happy Hooker to the Mad Madam).  Mother Bash refuses to turn her clientele in, so she faces jail time (a regular Rosa Parks, isn't she).  

Meanwhile, Damien Karp (Reed Diamond), still desperate to become a judge, gets some help from Rachel King (Heather Locklear).  She has connections, such as Judge Dinsdale (Buck Henry), who is hinting at retirement.  King's advise: butter up Judge Dinsdale, to get his endorsement (which would help in keeping the 'Judge Karp' dreams alive).  Karp does so, but soon finds that Dinsdale wants Karp to do something for him, namely pimp King out to him!  A flustered Karp more or less whores his boss out, but King (who appears to be omniscient) orders him to fix this.

Colleen is distraught that her case is going so badly, but she shows her listening skills by proving into King's cold exterior...and then locks lips with Locklear to get her out of her inhibitions.  Of course, little Petey and his even littler buddy walk in at this exact moment.  However, Mother Bash's linguistic skills give Peter an idea: he will get the court to recognize Mommie Dearest as a doctor, so that way her 'client list' can remain confidential.  This works, and in her testimony she describes her work...and Mother and Son bond.

Well, with that (and the order by the District Attorney that ADA Hewitt has lost his rank, along with his immunity and can now be called to testify), the charges are dropped and the boys win their case.

Perhaps why I thought well of Good Lovin' was that for once, these two lawyers actually came up with the solution themselves (or rather the more mature Bash did, and he's a bit of a himbo but an intellectual compared to his permanently immature partner Franklin).  Granted, it was in one of those 'lesbian kisses give me ideas at the last minute that makes all things clear' style, but a solution that didn't come from someone else is a rarity on Franklin & Bash, where the leads hardly ever come up with conclusions themselves.  Therefore, we should take what we're given. 

We also get some good scenes between Seymour and Gosselaar, especially when it's just the two of them, speaking to each other, quietly, having rational and human conversations.  I know one doesn't watch Franklin & Bash for anything other than mindless entertainment, but in Good Lovin' we got to see beneath the flashy veneer Peter puts on to see the player actually has human issues.   We learn that Mr. Bash abandoned Colleen and Peter, and that while Mrs. Bash used that as a wake-up call to be her true self (a woman who would speak her mind and listen), Peter still carries a sense of anger and sorrow over his father's abandonment. 

He also, despite how Colleen has been foolish with Peter (such as her insistence that as a child he eat large amounts of donuts, which brought childhood obesity and the teasing that still haunts him), Peter does indeed love his mother, seeing her as a flawed but dedicated woman.

This however, brings up a big problem.  After Peter and Jared see Colleen in jail, Peter tells his best friend to say his one wisecrack at this situation.  Jared appears shocked that Peter would think this way, telling him that he knows Colleen is in jail and that Peter can't keep falling apart every time she says 'vagina'.  "Would you be this calm if it was your mother?"  Peter says. 

To which Jared Franklin, Peter Bash's best friend and potential life partner, quips, "My mom's not a hooker."

Honestly, if it had been anyone who said that about my mother under those circumstances, I would have socked him.  The fact that Peter took that shows him to be either a wimp who can't stand up to his diminutive friend or someone who at that moment doesn't think much of his mother (the one who raised him after his dad ran away).  I wouldn't have stood for it, and this little snipped shows both of them to be rather horrible people.

Still, I have to give Gosselaar and Seymour credit for pulling off the emotional scenes well. 

I also have to give credit to Jay Shore and co-creator Bill Chais for writing a screenplay that has the comedy flow naturally from the situations, rather than forcing odd situations into the story.  Malcolm McDowell's cameo was delightful, especially his odd suggestion that Franklin's romp with Swatello was 'his first time' (otherwise, why would Infeld start telling the boys about his own 'first time').  He made it look natural (or as natural as anything Stanton Infeld has said).  Buck Henry, a writing legend, also added to the comedy in his desires for the lovely Miss King, and Reed Diamond (always underrated and underused in general and in Franklin & Bash in particular...would love to see an episode truly revolve around him) plays the flustered, even befuddled and embarrassed Karp brilliantly.

If there were any justice, Reed Diamond would have an Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama or Comedy Emmy nomination to play the straight man to the hijinks of Breckin Meyer and Mark-Paul Gosselaar.

We also have a good retort to King's query as to what kind of monster they think she is.  "Shape shifter," says Franklin.  "Swamp demon," says Bash.  Obviously these two are still into comic books, but it does show that they have no censor to a rhetorical question their boss asks.  It is funny, though.

Still, as good as Good Lovin' was (and it was far and away the best episode since last season's L'Affaire Du Couer, a good seven episodes ago) we still have issues and points of logic.  Did Colleen just get up one morning and say, 'I'm going to help people with their sexual issues'. 

License?  She don't need no stinking license!

What conflict could there possibly be with Peter Bash defending his own mother on prostitution charges? 

Granted, Hewitt hates Bash, but would he go so low as to go after Peter's mother?!

What?  There's no such thing as gratuitous lesbianism in Franklin & Bash!  Perish the thought!

In a more serious tone, I have two points.  One is a question.  Is there something odd about how Rachel King appears to know everything?  Wouldn't it have worked better if Karp, who at heart is an honest man, just told King that he had sold her to Judge Dinsdale (and play on the dual nature of the prostitution stories: Colleen accused of it, Rachel being used as one for Karp's hoped-for promotion)?  Instead, we get a tired idea that a character always knows more than everyone else, and here, whatever good comedy could have come from Karp's flustration (flustered frustration...I copyright that word) goes out.

Come out, come out, wherever you are...

Second point involves our heterosexual with homosexual tendencies, one Elmo Jared Franklin.  Yes, in Good Lovin' we get him constantly banging the enemy (and Seehorn makes Swatello into your typical angry, uptight mannish woman), but we also get a flat-out bizarre scene between Franklin and Pindar (who mercifully wasn't in enough of the episode to 'delight' us with his eccentricities and phobias).  At a party to celebrate Colleen's freedom, we get a welcome return to the boy's hypotheticals which had been a hallmark of Season One (in this one, Franklin would always bang Mrs. Bash...another reason to punch him in his face...which would be where the gut of an average man would be).

However, a clearly buzzed Franklin comes up to Pindar and begins the oddest conversation with him.  "I didn't realize how beautiful your eyes are.  They're almost soulful," Jared tells Pindy.  For his part, Mr. Singh doesn't appear at all puzzled as to why technically his boss is commenting on how beautiful his eyes are.  Instead, he just says thank you, adding that his mother would say the same thing to him as a child.  When Peter comes in and asks if he's interrupting, Jared tells him, "Maybe".

I'm not an expert, but if a man who had a bit too much to drink commented on the loveliness of my eyes, I would think he was hitting on me.  Why would any man (or any straight man anyway) talk about they beauty of another man's eyes to that particular man? 

Either Chais and co-creator Kevin Falls are aware of the rumors surrounding our favorite bromantic fellows and want to play with them, or they really need to just let Jared come out of the closet and embrace his love for another man (emotional, if not sexual).

However, Good Lovin' appears to be a return to form for Franklin & Bash (offbeat cases, clever lawyering, and some emotion from the characters).  I've seen this before, a good episode that is more of the exception than the rule.  Still, one hopes that Mother Bash will guide our boys in the right direction.   

MILF Indeed...


Next Episode: Captain Johnny

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