Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Franklin & Bash: The Bangover Review


Bang, I Wish I Was Your Lover...

We're coming so close to the end of this Franklin & Bash retrospective, and we're down to our final three episodes of the first (and only tolerable) season.  The Bangover plays like a comedy, which is what Franklin & Bash was at the beginning.  By no means completely rational, The Bangover works within the oddball world of our not-so-favorite himbo lawyers.  It had some logic to it, and it was a bit of breezy fun.  In short, The Bangover, while not perfect by any stretch, at least could serve as a positive example of what Franklin & Bash started out as, before it descended quickly into a sad embarrassment for all concerned (including and especially the audience). 

For once, Infeld Daniels head Stanton Infeld (Malcolm McDowell) is rational.  He insists his niece Lilly (Annabella Casanova, a name to be played with) return from her trip to the U.S. quickly with no outside indulgences in the form of Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), which whom she does have an instant attraction (a "Zack attack", perhaps). 

Now, where oh where are thou, Jared and Peter?  They find themselves under 72-hour house arrest for their latest stunt: bringing lightsabers to court.  The judge (Kathy Najimi) is not amused.  Neither is panophobe Pindar Singh (Kumail Nanjiani), whose lightsabers they were...in mint condition until they used them.  The boys see their house arrest as a 72-hour party, Sadly, Lilly has one indulgence that's discovered when she crashes the party: marijuana, which she attempted to import "for a friend" and of course, for 'medicinal' purposes.  Both I think are true but irrelevant.

Everyone, from Jared & Peter to Lilly's cousin Damien Karp (Reed Diamond) are desperate to keep things under wraps, but Carmen (Dana Davis) inadvertently complicates things by hooking up with her ex, ex-con Dante (Leonard Roberts), who is the only man who can make her irrational through wild sex.  He left $100,000 in a bag after another tryst.  While over Damien's objections Lilly stays with the boys, they find her case getting worse, and after the cash is discovered, Carmen herself is arrested in now two unrelated cases. 

Now, to sort all this out we need Pindar!  He is the only one available to take Carmen's case, and he has an added boost of confidence when he takes a "special brand" of muffins.  Karp, for his part, tries to help Lilly (who did schtupp Bash), but that tryst gets under the skin of Bash's ex Janie (Claire Coffee, another name to be played with).  Into this comes Infeld, who I think knew all along what was going on but opted not to interfere.  A deal is struck: three years probation and community service for Lilly's case, with the proviso she not return to the U.S. for 10 years afterwards.  That one was added by Janie. 

Finally, with Carmen's case, Pindar starts out well, but Jared, being Jared, tells him those muffins weren't marijuana-laced, and now Pindar starts collapsing.  Somehow, he muddles his way to resolving the case, or actually, Dante does by showing up, turning himself in, and with the money mysteriously appearing at the prosecutor's table.  Carmen, still erotically charged by the mere sight of Dante, throws herself on him as he's pulled away, but at least she's free.

Thinking back on The Bangover, I think if it weren't for some odd bits this would have been a pretty solid episode and among Franklin & Bash's best.  The first part was regarding Carmen.  Now, I know that passion will drive people crazy, but for most of the series Carmen was the sensible one, the rational voice of reason in a household filled with egoists and nutjobs.  Therefore, to find that she was in love with Dante wasn't the odd thing.  The fact that she did irrational things whenever Dante was involved wasn't the odd thing.  It was the idea that his scent, his presence, his name I think too, drove her into fits of unbridled ecstasy.   Really, she couldn't control herself at the end?

It just seemed out-of-character for her to behave this way.

Second, Jared and Peter's boneheaded decision to flat-out tell Pindar that the muffins weren't marijuana-laced.  Haven't these two idiots ever seen Dumbo?  The magic feather, guys, the magic feather.  Both of them clearly saw that Pindar, whom they described as "tall, dark, and neurotic" had confidence and was doing so well with Carmen's case.  It almost makes one believe in the power of medicinal marijuana.  Clearly these two lawyers didn't understand the concept of 'placebo effects', and the fact that Peter didn't stop Jared from stating the truth show that they really are idiots.

Tommy Chong Just Says No

However, apart from these moments The Bangover was actually on the whole quite entertaining.  There was a shocking amount of logic in all this (how the money disappeared and was found was actually pretty straightforward and made sense).   The cases were offbeat but normal (even if Carmen's defense that she was uncontrollable whenever Dante was around is a bit nutty). 

There is also something hilarious in the idea that Tommy Chong of all people would be tough on marijuana possession.  His casting as the judge in Lilly's case, where he took a firm stand against marijuana, was a brilliant decision. 

And yes, the words "brilliant" and "Franklin & Bash" rarely are used together, so let us treasure this moment.

It was ironic and funny without being obvious. 

We got the typical immaturity of Franklin and Bash, from the lightsaber bit to the idea of a 72-hour party when under house arrest, but we also saw something the show got away from: the idea that they are actually bright.  When Dante holds a gun to them about his money, they knew it was a good idea to have him go on a wild goose chase to get it, knowing their ankle-bracelets would set the police after them.  The fact they made it later on obvious they had them is questionable, but not completely idiotic.

The Bangover also had the odd relationship between Peter and Jared: the former as catnip to any woman who comes within eyesight, and the latter oddly possessive and unhappy his friend slept with someone.  Granted, Jared is right in suggesting that sleeping with Infeld's niece is not a good idea on many levels, so perhaps this time the little one is right. 

The Bangover is a sensible story, which Franklin & Bash started out having then tossed out the following seasons.  With some great guest turns, a logical (albeit far-fetched) plot and two cases that generally worked, it was nice to see that at least the first season, Franklin & Bash had a good mix of humor, heart, and brains.

Pity it lost all three when we started Season Two.   


Next Episode:  Bachelor Party

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