When one receives an advance screener of a television show, it is typically customary to write a review before said television show’s debut. Why? Because the station – in this case A&E – generally wants to build hype for the show it’s promoting – in this case, Steven Seagal Lawman – and because I like to feel all warm and fuzzy by being ahead of the average person.
So, it doesn’t do much good when I forget to write the review, having watched the first two episodes of the show last week, after it’s already debuted (Wednesday 10pm ET/PT on A&E). Damn.
We all know that Steven Seagal’s career has been flatlined for years. The star of such classics as Under Siege (and that movie still rocks) has been demoted to direct-to-DVD fare for quite some time (and as he gets up in years, even that seems to be waning), and he’s now more of a running joke that anything else. But – surprise! – Seagal has actually been serving as a deputy sheriff for the last twenty years, and sensing that his coffers were getting empty, he finally decided to introduce this side of his career to the public. The result: a Cops-esque show where Seagal hunts down real-life bad guys and trains rookies how to disarm and destroy people who could be harmful to their health.
Unfortunately, Steven Seagal Lawman is also a little cheesy and lame.
While the show is presumably based on footage of real stuff, the two episodes I saw felt somewhat staged. The cops-in-action moments looked real, but the way they are edited and bedazzled up take away from the best moments. Compared to Cops, the sequences are second rate and not nearly as interesting or gritty as even the dullest episodes in that long-running series.
The show also involves quite a few talking-head interviews with Seagal and his fellow cops, and scenes of Seagal training people how to fight bad guys in hand-to-hand combat or shoot guns. Unfortunately, the biggest appeal of the show is the thought that we’d get to see Seagal in a natural state, but instead Seagal just comes off as cocky and full of himself. Every time he talks, he discusses how everything is so dangerous and that he wants his guys to be as safe as possible. Fine, but he talks these points to death, to the point where you realize he actually believes that every cop is going to get into a gunfight sooner or later. I’m pretty sure that a lot of police officers never fire their weapons over their entire career.
The second episode begins to pry into the Steven Seagal facade a bit, but by that point it’s too late. Once the novelty of seeing Steven Seagal running around as a police officer (and as one would expect, he doesn’t actually get to do a whole lot) wears off, I expect audiences to abandon this show in droves.
That being said, Steven Seagal Lawman is not beyond saving. However, to become effective, A&E will need to get past Seagal’s ego – and I doubt that would happen. If they get Seagal to honestly open up about his tanking movie career, that would be interested. If they get the other officers to discuss the positives and the negatives of having Seagal on the force (is he really as cocky as he appears? Is he distracting? Is he full of himself? Full of shit?), that would be interesting. If they lose all the fancy editing during the action sequences, that’d be ideal.
However, I don’t think Seagal would ever open up in this fashion. The show is about him first and foremost, and it’s unlikely he’d be willing to squander his seemingly perfect image. Trust me, Steven: we want to see who you really are and what you really do, not hear about how helpful you are in keeping police officers alive.