Summer used to be a time for reruns and lame reality shows. (And picnics and swimming and ice cream, yeah, yeah. But we’re talking about TV here, you know.) As cable series have become more prevalent, however – as well as their short seasons and strange scheduling – summer is no longer about taking a break from TV and more about reuniting with your favorite shows and finding some new ones.

Before the last season finales had faded this spring, promos for the new series (and returning ones) began showing up during every other commercial break. And of course, they all looked great.

At one point I said, “Darn you, USA Network, for your characters and your shows that I just have to watch!”

It turns out that the new show prompting that outburst, Suits, wasn’t that great at all. Part of one episode was all it took for me to breathe a sigh of relief and decide this was one show I didn’t have to make time to watch.

I wasn’t so lucky when it came to TNT, though.

Though the series on TNT often look good to me, I’m not a regular viewer of any of them. (Every time I see a commercial for Leverage, I wonder all over again why I have never watched it!) TNT shows tend to be the more serious partner of USA’s light-hearted line-up, and really, given the choice between drama serious and fluff fun, I choose fun.

But when Zack from Saved by the Bell (or Mark-Paul Gosselar, as he insists on being called) is starring in one of those TNT shows? Well, a girl can certainly make an exception.

Franklin & Bash doesn’t really fit the mold of TNT’s usual show, anyway. It is a legal procedural, although I didn’t have to wrack up law school loans to know that this show and its characters are playing pretty fast and loose with the law. But, really the show is more of a buddy story that’s beyond lighthearted and unabashedly goofy.

Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Peter Bash (Zack Morris Mark-Paul Gosselar) are frat boys in lawyer suits, literally chasing down ambulances and sketchy cases in between bouts of banter over hot dogs, hot tubs and hot chicks.

I know, it sounds awful, but it really is funny. And, underneath the stick-it-to-the-man attitudes and dirty jokes, these characters really are smart and kind of sweet.

Well, maybe not sweet. But I’d like to think so.

So would their new boss, Stanton Infeld, the head of a top law firm in L.A. The show is about Franklin and Bash learning to fit in – kind of – to this traditional firm while still maintaining the zest (flair? spice? joie de vivre? Franklin and Bash-ness?) that got them hired in the first place.

For the record – and a bit of perspective on my opinion – I laughed my head off last year when my husband and I saw The Other Guys with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. It was hilarious, and we loved the entire thing. I’m also the girl who can’t help snorting when a certain friend insists on adding, “That’s what she said,” to every conversation.

If you’re not like me, you might not like Franklin & Bash. Admittedly, the critics didn’t love the show, with even one of my favorites, Alan Sepinwall, calling it obnoxious, quaint and “more trouble than it’s worth.” But if you, too, laugh at inappropriate jokes, SNL skits and have a soft spot for all things Saved by the Bell, Franklin & Bash just might be for you.

It was for me, and I’m sorry it’s gone so soon. We only got 10 episodes this summer, and the show won’t be back for a full year. In the meantime, check it out on Amazon.

At the least, appreciate the fact that Mark-Paul Gosselar is no longer sporting the hideous hairdo of Raising the Bar, season one. And the fact that Breckin Meyer has finally found another adorable, endearing troublemaker to play. It’s been much too long since Clueless.

Did you watch Franklin and Bash this summer? What did you think?

P.S. Here’s a bonus for you. Sepinwall may not have loved Franklin and Bash, but he’s still a fan of Mark-Paul Gosselar. Here’s a great article about my favorite Saved by the Bell alum, including a hilarious video of his appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s show a few years ago. Don’t miss it.


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