Saturday, September 13, 2014

Franklin & Bash: Good Cop/Bad Cop Review


Franklin & Bash, Where Are You?

Could it be that Franklin & Bash is pulling itself out of the mire it has found itself in after the disastrous season opener?  Good Cop/Bad Cop isn't exactly a return to the heady days when actual good episodes were to be found.  You'd have to go back to Season One to find a succession of actually interesting and smart cases.  The main case here is up their quirky ones and on the whole isn't bad.  However, we find that Good Cop/Bad Cop has one factor that elevates the episode.  It isn't Mark-Paul Gosselaar's Peter Bash.  It isn't Breckin Meyer's Jared Franklin. 

It's our favorite nemesis: Reed Diamond's Damien Karp, who continues to not only be my favorite character in Franklin & Bash, but shows that he should be the star of the show (or any show really).  At the very least, Good Cop/Bad Cop's subplot involving Damien and his uncle, Stanton Infeld (Malcolm McDowell) proved the most realistic and interesting part of Good Cop/Bad Cop, which given the low standards Franklin & Bash aims for, isn't all that much of a lofty goal, but there it is. 

This time, Jared and Peter are defending Dewey Barber (Daniel Roebuck), a slightly drippy-hippie who is being charged with trespassing.  Dewey claims the beach property he and the boys were at is his, and is countersuing media baron Robert Harcourt (Bruce Nozick) for attempting to take his property by encroachment.  Dewey, a Parrot-head (fan of Margaritaville singer Jimmy Buffett) abandoned his property as he kept going on tours, but not in enough time for him to abandon it completely.  He even at one point sent him a note (written on beer casing paper) telling Harcourt that what he was doing was 'not cool' (though the writing is indecipherable). 

Harcourt, however, knows how to play hardball.  He happens to have a cop, Officer Mueller (Vincent Ventresca) on his personal payroll, and Mueller delights in harassing the boys at every turn.  Right down to helping lock them up on trumped-up charges of 'animal abuse' (Mueller had entered the beach-house to witness lobster racing) and having his fellow rogue officers 'lose' their clothes, forcing them to conduct part of the trial in their jumpsuits.  For help against Mueller and his minions, they turn to an old ally: Officer Wendy (Kat Foster), who now is a McLain rather than a Cowell as she was last time we saw her.  She and Peter still have some emotions towards each other, but as far as we know, nothing will come of it.  However, as someone who takes her job seriously and who hates dirty cops, she wants to help.  However, the boys know she will become persona non grata should she rat out her corrupt officers.  What to do?  How will they win their case?

Booze? Check.  Broads? Check.  Brains?

In the subplot, Stanton Infeld is determined to land a whale (a major client) to get the firm back in order.  He finds one in Korean businessman Sato (Keone Young), but just as Infeld comes close to landing Sato, in comes his nephew.  Karp wants to take Sato for his firm.  "You're here trying to sign Sato as a client?" Infeld asks his nephew.  "No, no, no, no, no," Karp replies.  "I'm here trying to steal him from you."  Soon it becomes war to get Sato on board.  If it means Infeld revealing to Sato that his nephew once had a leaked video of him masturbating while asleep or that he killed Judge Dinsdale, so be it.  Despite all this, Sato at first agrees to go with Karp.  Karp, however, is angry, seeing this as another example of his uncle meddling in his professional life and making him look like, in his words, 'the Fredo of the family', an idiot who needs Infeld to step in and straighten things for Damien. 

Later, Damien is thrilled to learn Sato wasn't influenced by Infeld, but it's too late: Karp had turned HIM down and Sato already signed with Stanton Infeld, delighting Jared and Peter but obviously upsetting Damien.

Well, it looks like Reed Diamond, try as he might, cannot be denied as the real showcase in Franklin & Bash.  I think it has to do with the fact that he is the only real person here, and moreover Diamond has a magnificent way with lines.  When we first hear him, Karp has come in as Infeld metaphorically connects his struggle to land Sato with that of Captain Ahab.  A smirking Karp asks, "Oh, does this story end with you giving Herman Melville the idea for Moby Dick?"  Whether this was a snide comment about McDowell's age or a sign that Karp really has grown beyond tired of Infeld's bizarre ramblings, either way we see the logic to Karp's genuine rage. 

Damien Karp has wanted to be a judge all his life, and I think he would make a good one.  Perhaps not the most compassionate ones, but one who is both genuinely fair and competent.  However, he has this grudge against his uncle for his constant meddling, right down to taking the fall for Rachel King's embezzlement due to Infeld's 'sex addiction' rather than due to Karp's blundering.   Furthermore, Karp has a legitimate gripe that Infeld favors the two nitwits who constantly put the firm in danger rather than in his nephew, who has been loyal and endured a great deal of grief at their hands.  Franklin & Bash constantly pushes me to dislike Damien and root for Jared and Peter, but try as I might the opposite happens.  Peter and especially Jared come off as total jerks, Damien as merely stiff.

The interplay between Diamond and everyone is the highlight of Good Cop/Bad Cop, because everything else is pretty weak.  Foster is strong as the competent Wendy (though the last name switch is never explained, unless I misheard "Cowell" for "McLain", which is possible).  Given all the years these two nitwits have practiced, I'm surprised the police haven't struck back earlier, but there is something not-quite-believable about Mueller's omnipresence or how they know no one who can get at Mueller (Internal Affairs, I guess, is a myth).  It's a clear case of harassment but no one can do anything about it I guess. 

Some of the acting was pretty laughably bad.  Nevada Vargas and Haile D'Alan, as the two Department of Fish and Game Wardens come to arrest Jared and Peter, had this 'intense' style to their brief scene that came across as comical rather than serious.  It's a bad sign when you notice just how 'intense' they were trying to be when all they end up looking like is silly.  Mark Saul, as the fresh-out-of-law-school Assistant D.A. Darcell, was more interesting than the leads, coming across as an eager child trying to please and making the most of his comic turn. 

No, I take something back.  Roebuck was also amusing as the whacked-out Dewey, and it's a rarity to see him play someone so comically zonked out. 

We get the traditional 'we might be gay' bits (when speculating about trading places, the conversation ends with Peter wondering how he got 'inside' Jared) and the traditional 'humiliate Peter' bit (it is Peter, not Jared, who gets tasered in the ass and has the video to prove it). 

Good Cop/Bad Cop is actually a better Franklin & Bash episode than we've seen in the past few weeks.  Frankly, I have grown disillusioned with this show and think it is on its way out.  Maybe it will go for another year or two, but apart from its brilliant first season Franklin & Bash hasn't, with one or two exceptions, ever gone past an average score.  I personally am glad that Reed Diamond's Damien Karp has returned, and if Kevin Falls and Bill Chais had any sense, they would turn the show's focus over to him. 

Make the show about him, please!


Next Episode: Deep Throat

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