As much as TNT’s Franklin & Bash changes, it also stays the same. It has undergone cast shifts before, but in the fourth season, which returned last night, we may see the most dramatic rotation yet. Which is why it’s extra remarkable that the premiere, “The Curse of Hor-Aha,” seems pretty much the same as any other episode of the series.
Right off the bat, we get a four month time jump where our titular characters are now running the law firm (although they remain living in Infeld’s beach house). Infeld (Malcolm McDowell) himself is working as an auto mechanic, having taken a blow for the Rachel King (Heather Locklear) fiasco. Rachel is locked up, so we don’t see her, and likely won’t again, at least not for a long while. Other employees are jumping ship, unhappy with the new management style, and that includes F&B’s loyal compatriots, Carmen (Dana Davis) and Pindar (Kumail Nanjiani).
What this means for Franklin & Bash is that Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) either need to grow up or get Infeld back. They prefer the latter, of course. In their current case, which involves “The Case of Hor-Aha,” they are as goofy as ever. In the office, they can’t stay out of trouble, which is probably why they haven’t managed to garner any respect. The new investigator they’ve hired, Dan Mundy (Anthony Ordonez, Job for Gino), is an enabler and a weirdo. Needless to say, they’re not doing well, and the firm is losing money and personnel rapidly.
It’s disappointing that Carmen and Pindar have left. We get brief explanations for both absences, and it doesn’t seem like they fled for the same reasons the others did. But they are valuable characters for the show, even if they’ve been marginalized for most of it, who will be missed. Let’s hope they at least pop back up as guest stars sometime this year.
Since it seems like getting Infeld back into his office will be an arc, rather than a quick fix, there has to be some balancing force on the show to keep the guys in line in the meantime. In the past, this has mostly fallen to Damien Karp (Reed Diamond) and a couple of different women, who are no longer around. Damien has also quit (and it’s worth noting that he is no longer listed on the cast page of the official website) and is purposely seeking cases where he can fight the guys in the courtroom, petty as ever. So obviously, the show needs a permanent presence at Infeld Daniels (now renamed Infeld, Daniels, Franklin, & Bash) to stabilize things.
Anita Joins Franklin & Bash
Enter Anita Haskins (Toni Trucks, Hostages), a well-educated, no-nonsense woman who is willing to work for them if they actually let her go to court, which they are desperate enough to do, and other reputable law firms won’t. She seems, at first glance, to be a pretty standard straight (wo-)man, there to hamper them, but not too harshly, like her predecessors. But it’s hard to tell for sure because she doesn’t show up until near the close of the hour.
Before Anita is introduced to Franklin & Bash, we see Ellen Swatello (Rhea Seehorn), previously an assistant district attorney, is now on staff at the firm. Ellen is a recurring part, and unfortunately, her new position has not come with a corresponding upgrade for the delightful Seehorn. One assumes the office isn’t going to keep both Anita and Ellen around, but how cool would it be if they did? After all, two tough females teaming up on Franklin & Bash might finally be able to rein them in.
The case-of-the-week is standard and takes up most of the running time, as usual. I like Franklin & Bash because it isn’t just a procedural, but unfortunately, it is mainly that. If you were entertained the first three years, though, you’ll probably like this one, too, because even though there has been some musical chairs among the players and a new challenge introduced, it’s still very much the show you’ve become accustomed to.
Franklin & Bash airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on TNT.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00MAT9PDC][amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00MEXD4K4]