The Complete Season One
- Buy the DVD
Reviewed by Will Harris
or 20 years, Steven Seagal has been a deputy in the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, a job he’s kept out of the limelight…until now.”
So it is written at the beginning of every episode of the A&E series, “Steven Seagal: Lawman.” It’s a statement which would seem to answer the concerns of those who’ve been wondering where the late ‘80s / early ‘90s action star has been in recent years, but in fact, despite Seagal’s limited presence on the big screen (his last proper theatrical release was 2002’s “Half Past Dead,” with Morris Chestnut and Ja Rule), he’s been a force to be reckoned with on the straight-to-DVD circuit, having knocked out an astonishing 20-plus such films in the past decade. This, of course, begs the question, “When has the man had the time to be a deputy in Jefferson Parish?”
As we watch the first episode of “Lawman” unfold, it quickly becomes evident that, while Seagal may have maintained a presence within the Sheriff’s Office itself over the years, he clearly hadn’t been patrolling the streets on any sort of regular basis prior to the green-lighting of this series. Also apparent is that the producers of the series, while they may have had an interesting concept to work with (“Steven Seagal fights crime for real!”), clearly hadn’t worked out where they were planning to go with that concept when they first began filming. Nor, for that matter, had they found a coherent tone for the proceedings. Is Seagal good at his job, or is he still learning the ropes? Is he in a position to impart wisdom to the rookies, or are the stalwarts on the force shaking their heads in bewilderment at his naiveté on the streets? It flip-flops from scene to scene, leaving you uncertain as to what to expect from the show.
On the other hand, though, it does give you quite a few laughs, and to watch the first episode of “Lawman” is to witness your new favorite drinking game:
- Drink when Seagal says the word “zen.”
- Drink when Seagal uses some approximation of the phrase “as a lifelong practitioner of the martial arts.”
- Drink when Seagal says something that you suspect may have been taken from the script of one of his straight-to-DVD films. (Example: “While the world is speeding by for others, I see things for what they really are.”)
- Drink when the show uses visual effects to indicate that Steven is using his Super Police Vision to “see things for what they really are.” (Yes, seriously.)
- Drink when Seagal gets way more excited than someone who’s been a deputy for 20 years really ought to get. (Examples of this can be seen when he’s gleefully telling his partner which direction to turn – the poor guy finally says, “Steven, let me drive” – and when he shouts “Taser” a dozen times before finally screaming, “We got him!”)
Although it takes several episodes, the show does finally settle into a semi-comfortable groove, alternating between the events which take place while Seagal is on patrol, the police training that goes on during the day, and the rare off-duty moments, such as when he performs a concert for charity. (Those waiting for the show to gradually transition into “Steven Seagal: Bluesman,” however, probably shouldn’t hold their breath.) Still, the heavy-handed nature by which our man Steven is pushed into the spotlight continues to be an issue, with far too many sequences where we’re reminded who he is when he’s not working for the good people of Jefferson Parish. It never fails to be amusing when the perps suddenly recognize him, but it would be a far more interesting show if we saw fewer moments where he’s being shown off like a prize pony, such as when he’s giving martial arts lessons to a group of youngsters. Given that “Steven Seagal: Lawman” has been renewed for a second season, it will be interesting – well, you know, relatively speaking – to see if the show has managed to fix some of its problems when it returns.
Special Features: The only bonus material is a collection of 30-plus minutes of deleted scenes, but they’re worth watching, as many of them are better than some of the scenes actually featured in the episodes.