The time has come for me to write one last time about Steven Seagal Lawman. Throughout season one I’ve diligently tried to write weekly recaps of the series. I have had to use every bit of my martial arts discipline to keep up with my self-imposed weekly goal, and, minus having missed one episode, I have met that goal. So, for one last time, let’s visit the sordid world of Steven Seagal!
What many Seagal fans do not realize is that there is a long history of reports about our hero and his possibly exaggerated claims. A sampling of these reports include his having received martial arts training from the founder of Aikido, secretly working for the CIA, alleged ties to the mob, and a smattering of lawsuits against the actor. For example, as his star was rising in the '80s, I can remember Mr. Seagal being interviewed by Johnny Carson, and in that interview Seagal alluded to his past CIA ties. If you don’t believe me, just spend a little time on the Internet and verify some of these reports for yourself. There are at least two possibilities to explain these various stories: 1) a vast anti-Seagal conspiracy that’s spread across multiple sources exists, or 2) some of these reports could be true. Ultimately, I’ll leave it up to you to determine the veracity of these reports.
Seagal’s ongoing controversial history relates directly to the initial success of Lawman. If you remember, Lawman debuted on A&E with what has been widely reported as a record 3.5 million viewers — making it A&E’s most-watched original series premiere, ever. So what were those 3.5 million viewers looking for? Probably the Steven Seagal of the '80s and early '90s — the Above the Law, charismatic, ass-kicking machine who did put a new spin on the martial arts movie genre.
The problem is that said Seagal has not existed since 1995’s Under Siege II. Since then — and probably due mostly to problems of his own making — the big studios have avoided him. Thus, with no other viable options, our Zen hero was forced to develop a direct-to-DVD movie career.
Ah, but what about the season one review — why don’t you get on with it already? Okay, I will!
Lawman follows a curious formula: each episode features some sort of theme. One week it’s gun violence, the next it’s drug crime, and so on. In fact, it’s as if police officers on the street are faced with weekly crime sprees that focus on a particular problem or theme. Each episode also gives the illusion that Seagal is a certified law enforcement officer who is leading his “team” of fellow officers as they try to tackle the latest week’s crime theme. Of course, if you’ve read my weekly recaps you’ll know that Seagal is probably not a certified law enforcement officer. This, at least for me, makes the rest of show less palatable because it’s founded on either a half-truth or an outright lie. In addition to that, according to William Booth, there’s the very simple fact that most of reality television is probably scripted.
The show also uses a technique known as "frakenbites" which is nothing more than patching together segments that were recorded at different times and places and through this patchwork producers give the appearance of a seamless story. Only one has to look to the "theme of the week" to see frankenbites in action.
As for what might be real; well, in some episodes we see perpetrators being arrested for their alleged crimes while in other episodes, the featured crime goes unsolved or the suspect is released. This part is reality and it does serve to underscore some of the true challenges that real police officers face in general as well as to illustrate the many challenges that officers of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office (JPSO) face on a day-to-day basis. Police work is often not pretty, and, if you can look past our oversized Zen hero, you can see some of the many challenges that JPSO personnel face while performing their duties.
In my opinion, one of those challenges is in fact Seagal himself.
In a typical Lawman episode, the clever editing can only do so much to shine the light on JPSO deputies and their hard work. What usually happens is that Seagal's very large shadow gets in the way of that light. Seagal arrives upon a given crime scene where the suspect is already subdued. Once there he either barks random orders to the JPSO deputies or delivers a sermon to the would-be perpetrator who is already "bagged." Along the way he spots clues with his slow-motion eye and drops humorously inane one-liners. We are also treated to the occasional Steven Seagal-as-celebrity sighting. These sightings often result in Seagal signing autographs for the suspects. This is all certainly amusing and it does provide for entertaining television, but it also tends to detract from the legitimate police work the show is supposed to feature.