Saturday, December 7, 2013

Going Up To The Diamond In The Sky

FRANKLIN & BASH: OUT OF THE BLUE

There aren't many series that would make a murder case a secondary story, but then Franklin & Bash isn't an ordinary series.  It's a series that celebrates arrested development, where two men in their mid-thirties revel in living out their fratboy fantasies with the financial resources to fund them.  Out Of the Blue gives Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) something new: it now throws in a little Native American exploitation for good measure while mixing a rather horrifying murder trial for laughs.  Out of the Blue pushes me to dislike the leads, to witness how irresponsible they are, how dismissive they are to the miseries of others, how narcissistic and self-absorbed they are. 

And yet, Out of the Blue is a marked improvement over what we've seen in the last two preceding episodes.  Talk about crashing into success! 

A rare meteorite has crashed into the business of one Denny Kreski (Scott Michael Campbell), humble businessman.  There is a minor dispute as to who actually owns this expensive meteorite: Kreski or the owners of the property Kreski is renting from.  Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) are eager to take up this case, but their boss Rachel King (Heather Locklear) wants Damien Karp (Reed Diamond) to take it up (a rather odd thing given this is probably up their street).  However, a little bit of murder prevents this.

There is another case the law firm of Infeld Daniels King has that might be worth their time: the murder case against IDK partner Damian Karp, arrested for murdering Judge Dinsdale.  Karp insists it was an accident, unaware that he had struck His Honor twice on both sides of his head with his golf club.  Upset greatly by all these events (in particular by losing his chance for judgeship), Karp seems to have given up on life.  He still has his pride: despite the work of his uncle Stanton Infeld (Malcolm McDowell) and Rachel Karp will not under any circumstance take a plea that would put him under any suggestion of guilt.  He quickly dismisses the deal King coldly suggests he take: anger management classes (I think $3,000 fine too) and 500 hours community service in exchange for pleading guilty to reckless endangerment.

In regards to the meteorite case, Franklin & Bash charm Kreski by showing they're regular guys like he is.  Still, that meteorite is a pricey rock, and now JXP Enterprises head Stefan Hall (Paul Cassell), who works for Homeland Security, seizes the rock 'for national security reasons'.  Jared and Peter take an instant dislike to Stefan, are now determined to get it back, less for Kreski's benefit than to stick it to Stefan.  An off-hand comment from Denny mentioning he is 1/16th Minnekopa Indian gives Rachel a brilliant idea: claim the meteorite is property of the Native American nation and as a sacred object, it belongs to Denny and ostensibly the Minnekopa.



Oddly, for once Peter and Jared object to using a duplicitous trick to win their case, but the prospect of winning gets Denny to 'go native', going to the impoverished Minnekopa reservation (which he's probably never been to) to plead their own case.  Denny soon starts becoming enamored of his 'heritage', and some evidence from Carmen (Dana Davis) soon helps Jared and Peter come up with a solution to their situation (one that, theatrics aside, is actually rational).

It does look though that Karp is going up the river, Stanton proving shockingly incompetent, especially since he isn't convinced of his nephew's innocence.  The boys now are brought in, welcoming a chance to humiliate a badly wounded man (if nothing else, having an opportunity to kick Karp when he's down has to be one they can't pass).  As they explain to Damian, it's a win-win situation.  A puzzled Karp asks how it's a win-win.  Jared, the crueler of the two, tells him it's a win-win for THEM: if they win the case they win the case (and Karp goes free), if they lose Karp goes to prison.   In regards to the murder case, Infeld's strategy of humiliating Karp by demonstrating he truly was a horrible golfer (going so far as to bring the golf course pro to show Karp's bumbling swing) bombed, so by showing Infeld is perhaps attempting to sabotage his nephew (down to Karp telling horrible stories of Infeld, like having Karp work the weekend of his father's funeral or Infeld stealing Karp's Prom date) so rattles the prosecutor they drop the charges.

Of course, it was all a rouse. 

For the main case, Franklin & Bash get Stefan to offer a sliver of the meteorite in exchange for all of it.  After testifying that this meteorite is vital to measure future risks, the boys prove that even the removable of that sliver contradicts his earlier testimony.  While Denny wins the case, the actual rewards for the firm are wildly diminished. 

There is a fine line between being witty and being a jerk.  Jared Franklin always crosses that line.  You would think that given the terrible situation Damien Karp faces, Peter and Jared would have some sense of compassion.  Karp is being charged with murder, and while there is no doubt that he is responsible for Dinsdale's death the reason behind it is question (intentional or accidental).  Whatever Karp's faults, I can't believe either of them would think he would deliberately kill someone.  Given how traumatic this must have been for Damien, hearing Jared greet Karp with, "Hey, Killer," isn't funny.  It's cruel.

Given that Jared had in an earlier episode called his best friend's mother a hooker, it isn't surprising that he would take an opportunity to show his callousness to someone who has received enough blows (some from Jared's own hand).  Still, one would think that after everything Karp has gone through, these two clowns (which is really what they are, given how they shirk any responsibility or common sense) could have shown some compassion.  Instead, they use second-rate theatrics to get him off.

Even more bizarrely, by the end it is as if nothing has happened.  In order to prove their case they rent a baseball-pitching machine, but opt to keep it (billing it to the firm, of course.  Why spend THEIR money...).  When Karp asks them why don't they just return it, they say that if they did that, they wouldn't have a pitching machine.  Worse, these two think it's funny to use said machine to throw oranges and apples at Karp, who barely dodges their mass assault. 

Something about all that is wrong in two ways: it makes it look like Franklin & Bash simply don't care about people (having fruit thrown at someone at rapid speeds could cause injuries) and it makes it look like nothing's changed.  Whatever empathy Jared and Peter could muster for a human being is washed away by their immaturity.

There is still more wrong with Out of the Blue.  Is how the boys keep lowering the amount they will collect for the firm really suppose to showcase how good they are?  If I were Rachel King, seeing these two keep cutting the firm's take of a potential sale (and worse, learning that the Minnekopa opted NOT to sell) would make think these two should be fired for general incompetence, not kept on for any reason.  Why are these two still working at this firm?  They're lazy, dumb, inept (stumbling towards success but not actually working to get there) and contemptuous of everyone else for not being 'cool like them'.  I think they are more trouble than they're worth.

However, Rachel King is not diamond either.  Her callousness towards Karp is shocking, showing a brutal side to her that is revolting.  Not that her suggestion that they use Denny's tiny Native American background to win the case.  Rachel King obviously must be an advisor to Senator Elizabeth Warren.

The one bright spot in Out of the Blue is  I found in how they resolved their case by showing the inconsistency in Stefan's testimony.  THAT at least was logical.

Minus that, Out of the Blue is still more proof that Franklin & Bash just ain't the show I loved. 

Two of these men are killing Franklin & Bash.
Sadly, they're the title characters.


4/10

Next Episode: Shoot to Thrill

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