I’m six episodes into Lawman and yet another theme is emerging – Seagal and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Department actually do good things for the community. This makes it very hard to poke fun at the absurdity of the fact that despite what A&E may say, Steven Seagal certainly doesn't seem like a certified a law enforcement officer. So, rather than dwell on that point, let's bracket out the criticism for now and breakdown this week’s show.
This episode starts with Seagal and his team patrolling some of the bad neighborhoods of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. Soon they are called to the scene of an armed robbery. Arriving on the scene they find that two of the robbery victims were shot. The shooting victims are quickly loaded into an ambulance and Seagal’s team then turns the investigation over to the detectives from the department. This scene closes with Seagal’s team hitting the streets in an attempt to find the shooters. Sadly, as they search for the criminals we also discover that one of the shooting victims died from his wounds. This prompts Seagal to growl – “Damn that piss me off, Johnny. “
Later, the episode shifts to the daytime and Seagal visits a charity which is helping to rebuild neighborhoods that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Specifically, Seagal and some of his police friends visit a family who had their house destroyed by hurricane flooding. Here we get to see Seagal chat with the family and he even takes a turn at helping repaint their newly remodeled home.
What is interesting here is that in an almost surreal reality television moment, the Seagal that the viewer gets to see is not the over-the-top Hollywood tough-guy that is portrayed in your typical Steven Seagal action flick. Rather, you can tell that Seagal is actually touched by the visit and by the family’s gratitude.
The scene closes with Seagal promising to come back when their house is completely repaired and then the show transitions to yet another street patrol. This time it's daylight and we rejoin Seagal and his team as they look for the earlier shooters. We get teased with a vehicle stop that matches the earlier perpetrators; however, a quick check reveals that these guys are not the murderers.
Later, Seagal’s team returns to the scene of the armed robbery, now turned murder. It seems that nervous neighbors may have seen someone who was acting suspicious and who may have also matched the description of the alleged shooters. A quick check of the area reveals no criminals. Moreover, the caller is not to be found, so the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Department is unable to verify just what exactly was seen. We do learn, however, that the murder remains unsolved.
Before the credits roll, Seagal keeps his word and returns one last time to the storm-damaged house. This time the family is celebrating the completion of their post-Katrina repairs and has decided to invite our action hero for the celebration. Here again we get to see a very down-to-earth and humble Steven Seagal as he interacts with the clearly star-struck family. Seagal poses for pictures, chats with the family, and even leaves them several gifts. In addition, I have to admit that the scene is clearly touching and overall the visit is a very nice thing to do for a family that has lost so much.
This, of course, brings me back to my earlier observation: Part of me is painfully aware of the fact that A&E and Steven Seagal are making money from the hardships of Jefferson Parish residents. Simply put – without crime victims there would be no show! Yet, on the other hand, one could also argue that the show is bringing to light much of the good that Jefferson Parish law enforcement does on a day-to-day basis. When all is said and done, I’m left with more than a little cognitive dissonance! One week we get a wisecracking tough guy Seagal and the next we get Mr. Charity, so it’s little wonder that this reviewer really doesn’t know what to make of the series.
What I do know is that others seem to be having trouble with the series as well. According to Nielsen, Lawman lost 43 percent of its viewers between week one and week two — a very sobering number following its steamroller premiere several weeks ago. Perhaps, much like me, the legions of Steven Seagal fans out there would also like Seagal to make up his mind and pick a persona! I fear that if he does not, we may not see a season two.