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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Franklin & Bash defend "Jennifer of Troy"

Pilot     TNT's Franklin & Bash presents "Jennifer of Troy." In the episode, a woman named Jennifer (Saturday Night Live writer Jillian Bell) claims she is fired from a men's magazine for being too beautiful. Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) take the case, and soon discover she is not at all traditionally hot. Yet, she does have a very addictive personality, and when they discover jealousy is the real motivator behind the firing, they manager to win. Meanwhile, Infeld (Malcolm McDowell) and Damien (Reed Diamond) go into China Town to clear Franklin and Bash's friend, who in trying to help, F & B inadvertently sully the entire firm's name.


     The A story about a girl who thinks she is a hottie is pretty interesting. It calls into question what the definition of beauty actually is. Jennifer is not ugly, and her infectious personality soon garners the attention of both Bash and Infeld. It is said confidence is the biggest attractor, and she has it in spades. She isn't arrogant, but genuinely kind, and interested in helping others. She is extremely outgoing, and very comfortable with herself. It's hard not to start to find her more and more attractive as the episode goes on. Even Hanna (Garcelle Beauvais), who sneers when first learning the details of the case, begins to like their client.

     When it comes down to it, Jennifer is not fired because of her beauty, but because the magazine owner's daughter, Katherine (Rebecca McFarland, Two and a Half Men), grows jealous of the fatherly relationship her dad, Big Mack (Robin Thomas, Life Unexpected), develops for Jennifer. Katherine cannot handle being replaced, so in a way, it is Jennifer's positive elements that attract people that cause her to be fired.

     Should Jennifer's "delusion" be taken away? There are hints that it might stumble slightly when, in the courtroom, Big Mack admits he sees her as a kid, despite the fact that he's slept with tons of women her age. Yet, her smile is firmly back in place by the time they meet in the hallway outside. It would be hard to go through life believing a delusion, especially in the environment where Jennifer works. She has surely been told many times she is not beautiful. Yet, she manages to dismiss those doubters and keep her self confidence. Good for her!

     In the end, that is what makes her beautiful. It's not a fantasy. Men do find her attractive. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. That alone should be a lesson to women who are down on themselves. Jennifer is a real example of how most women can be seen as attractive if they put their minds to it. Kudos to Franklin & Bash for including such a nice, heartwarming message in their show.


     Damien actually shows a bit of a nice side in "Jennifer of Troy." He makes a bet he is pretty sure he will win against Franklin and Bash over Jennifer's case. When he loses, he shows up at their party and hands over a prized possession, his loss for the bet, with no obvious hard feelings or ill will. Is that because he is growing respect for the results they get? Or because he didn't really care about the object anyway? Being a gracious loser makes Damien a little less of a jerk, which is interesting, as his character is introduced as a one dimensional tool. Might there be something more there? Very cool.

     The B plot concerns Gene (Leonardo Nam, Vantage Point), who fixes Franklin and Bash's internet system. They learn Gene has been disgraced in his China Town community, and it considering moving to Chicago. This means he does not have time to fix their latest system crash, and so, for purely selfish reasons, the titular pair go to China Town themselves and serve an injunction against the store owner (François Chau, Lost) who has accused Gene of being a thief. This just makes things worse, as soon bad posters of Bash and Franklin are all over the neighborhood.

     It should not be surprising that Stanton Infeld has a deep interest in China Town and a respect for its culture. He is worldly and eccentric, and China Town is nearby. Why wouldn't he be curious about how the area operates? His desire to get in there and fix the situation surely stems as much from his wish to interact with the Chinese-American people and observe their customs as it is in fixing the good name of his firm.

     The twist in "Jennifer of Troy" is that Gene is in love with the store owner's daughter. Not particularly fresh, but a timeless classic. Of course the shopkeeper has deeper motivations than one frozen rabbit, for which Gene is more than willing to pay for. He wasn't trying to steal it anyway. The man just wants Gene to stay away from his kid, not believing the computer tech is good enough for her. Infeld is able to convince the man to drop all the accusations and allow Gene to stay in town.


     Watch Franklin & Bash Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. ET on TNT.

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Article first published as TV Review: Franklin & Bash - "Jennifer of Troy" on Blogcritics.

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