Summer television, at least thus far, has presented a fairly bleak even nauseating landscape. Thank you TNT for giving us a bit of drama and a lot of fun on Tuesday nights. Beginning this week, we get the return of both Rizzoli & Isles and Franklin & Bash. While neither show is exactly epic television, both are eminently watchable. Both series depend entirely on the charm of their leads and the charisma between the title characters. The storylines and plots are routine and completely by the book. Nothing here to really challenge our minds or emotions, at least not usually.
R&I (my abbreviation but feel free to use it) is returning after the usual season ending cliffhanger. That usually means one or the other of our leading ladies has been shot and her life hangs in the balance. This season is different in that the shootee is neither ‘R’ nor ‘I’ (nor any other main character) but Isles’ gansta daddy. So it’s the gal-pal friendship between the leading ladies which is knocking on death’s door … only everyone knows it really isn’t. Just like you can’t kill of either the ‘R’ or the ‘I’ in the title, it would also be disaster to bump off the ‘&’ part. In other words, the ladies will bounce back by episode two or three, but certainly no later. The secret of this show isn’t the pot-boiler plots or mind-bending mysteries … it’s all about the charisma. And that charisma is alive and kicking.
The success of Franklin & Bash also hangs on the charisma of the leads. There’s no real cliffhanger to resolve this season–other than the show getting renewed in the first place after a moderately successful freshman run. The cases they work on are inconsequential, little more than setting up our frat-boy lawyers to bend the rules, act out in court, and work their magic. Hey, someone has to do it now that James Spader and William Shatner have closed up shop over at Boston Legal. The show has a habit of slipping appealing guest-stars into those cases, as either lawyers or clients. In the first three episodes this season we get Kevin Neelan, Seth Green, and Cybil Shepherd.
Lawyer shows and cop shows come and go almost entirely at random. It is equally random any time one of them sticks. Happily, two good ones have managed to stick to Tuesday nights.