Note: I’m numbering these by the order the air, although the official numbering is totally different on their websight.
Apology: Sorry this is so late. I need time to study these things.
Episode 4: Killer Canines
The Seagal Squad rush to the scene of a burglary. This time they don’t seem as annoyed by his navigating. When they get to the house an alarm is blaring and there’s damage to a door and a window. It seems obvious that the intruder is long gone, but for some reason Seagal and the Squad are convinced he’s still inside. They call in a canine and put him in through the window, and Seagal says, “I hope he didn’t cut his feet on that glass,” seeming to maybe even choke up a little. They don’t find the burglar (he “somehow faded into the shadows”) but they have demonstrated Seagal’s legendary love of animals.
So now we go to Seagal’s home to meet his dogs Karr and Frankie, and he explains that “for the last two decades or more I’ve been working on training German shepherds.” Man, there are alot of things it turns out he’s been doing all this time – police work, blues, advising museums about antique samurai swords, now training dogs, next we’ll find out he’s an accomplished scuba diver or he delivers toys to children like Santa Claus or he’s been writing Caldecott Medal-winning children’s books under a pseudonym. Anyway Frankie is a new dog taught to be aggressive to everyone, so Seagal has one of his best friends – John H. Whittaker of Canine Protection International – come over to help get him working together with the other dog. This episode kind of reminds me of Mr. Rogers, because Mr. Rogers always had some friend in some weird vocation helping him out with something. This is Seagal’s Neighborhood.
They go through a bunch of exercises getting the dogs to freak out while Seagal holds them by the collar, getting them to bark like crazy and attack a guy until he tells them to stop in German (?). Once John has seen how they react to certain things he tells the camera, “We now know where the holes are.”
There it is! This is the #1 theme of LAWMAN so far: looking for holes. Seagal looks for holes in traffic, in hand-to-hand combat, in the training of his guard dogs. Always looking for holes. He’s a human hole-detector.
Later, on patrol, Seagal uses his Sense to spot some black kids passing drugs. There’s a dramatic confrontation between a young cop named Eric and a suspect because the suspect lies about his name and Eric knows who the kid is and rattles off the names and ages of everyone in his family. Another suspect’s pockets are emptied and there’s a pile of cash there, so Seagal asks if he can borrow five dollars. Then we get a great celebrity sighting moment when a girl says, “Steven Seagal! What? That’s crazy! My auntie loves your movies.”
Seagal says, “But you don’t,” and the girl says, “I don’t watch them.” It’s a tense moment.
There’s a lot of bickering about who owns the car they’re hanging out by and what’s in the trunk. Eventually the cops have a dog smell the trunk, but he doesn’t smell anything. In the end, the kid who lied about his name had outstanding warrants for traffic violations. All this for one blunt and some speeding tickets. Doesn’t seem worth the time of a Glimmer Man, but at least they got to show another talent dogs have.
They get called into another house, a 911 hangup call. On the way there Seagal lists some of the things that they don’t know if it’s happening: an intruder, a heart attack, etc. When they get there they knock for a while and don’t get a response. There are clues, such as a wheelchair ramp. Seagal commands a guy named Benzer to call headquarters and see if there have been any medical emergencies here in the recent past – this movie style detective work finds that she may have had a heart attack. They try to get in through the back, fearing a guard dog but it turns out to be “jus’ a li’l baby puppy dog.”
All their guesses were wrong. The owner of the house shows up and says she called 911 because her drunk friend threatened her, but she got scared and ran. They check the house and tell her to lock her door. Whoever this “friend” is who she can’t even call a boyfriend, hopefully he’s locked out… for justice.
Back at home Seagal does some more “basic maneuvers with the dogs.” For one he says, “This is an exercise where we tell them guard the house, anything that’s outside trying to get in, don’t let it in.” The language he chooses, allowing the possibility of non-human invaders, makes me wonder if this was while he was still working on AGAINST THE DARK. He also does one where he play fights against the fake intruder while the dogs attack so that they understand they’ll be fighting side by side with Seagal. He hasn’t done that in a movie yet.
The funniest part about the dog training is the implication that they’re being prepared for more than just chasing away burglars. “Hopefully we’ll never need them to track anybody, or go into the field,” Seagal says. “They’re just my best friends.”
The episode ends with the first noticeable Seagal song of the series, a blues number where he sings, “We be chasin’ the bad guys.” I would’ve gone with a Seagal version of “Hound Doggy” or “Atomic Dog.”
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Terms of endearment: son, potnah,
Holes: in dog training
old friends: John H. Whittaker of Canine Protection International
Episode 5: Too Young To Die
This episode begins with the team getting goofy of boredom on patrol. John Fortunato is singing to himself, they all laugh. But Seagal spots some black youths, and asks to “just look at these guys for a second.” His Seagal Sense doesn’t seem to detect anything. Four episodes in I’m still very uncomfortable with this constant suspicion and hassling of young black men, but in narration Seagal explains that these type of patrols have lowered the crime rate in Jefferson Parish so the citizens are counting on them to “not be complacent.”
They get a call about a 2 year old being hit by a truck, and they get worried. But when they get there the kid seems fine and it’s just a bunch of people arguing about whether or not the guy hit the kid, and nobody understanding why the fuck a 2 year old is running around in the street past 10:30 at night. In honor of aikido, Seagal attempts to promote harmony using his knowledge of ebonics and his Nawlins accent. As far as anybody can tell the baby didn’t actually get hit, so everything turns out to be fine.
And the next day… oh shit, I was right! It turns out that for 25 years Seagal has been visiting children’s hospitals all around the world, giving toys to sick children and hanging out with them doing art projects. This is a really sweet and touching scene, and Seagal admits that he wears sunglasses the whole time because he doesn’t want the kids to see him cry. He notes that “Unfortunately me and my team can’t fight disease.” If only disease could be thrown through a window these poor kids would have it easier.
Later, during a patrol, Alex (using his own version of Seagal Sense) spots one of three 17 year old kids dropping a bag of dope. When they stop the kids Seagal pulls a sawed off shotgun off the dope-dropper. For once it doesn’t feel like they’re harassing these people, although Lawrence sort of teases the kid about having thrown his life away. But this kid just fell into their lap and they handle it well. A sheriff we haven’t seen before is called in to talk gently to the other two kids’ moms so they’ll see the danger their kids are in hanging out with somebody like this. The sheriff shakes the kids’ hands and wishes them luck.
During the day time, Seagal practices with his band, who are going to do a benefit concert for the families of the kids he met in the hospital (or for the cancer ward – they mention both). He looks more serious playing guitar than patrolling for crime. Here’s your chance to find out if you agree with me that he’s actually a good guitar player.
At night, another boring traffic stop, a guy with his lights off. But he turns out to have warrants for not paying child support. It’s kind of impressive how much they make the timeline seem real but then the episodes are able to stick to a theme, the last one being all about dogs and this one about looking after the welfare of the children.
The episode ends at the charity concert, where Seagal’s whole team are in their civilian clothes enjoying his song “Alligator Ass.” John disproves my theory that he didn’t like Seagal in that first episode, teasing him like only an old friend can. He tells the camera, “I can tell you I’ve been friends with Steven Seagal for about twenty-some years now. He can really play the guitar. But I’m not so sure he knows how to dance.”
These two episodes made for a good night of Seagalogy, hitting on two major motifs from Seagal’s films (animal protection and music). Both episodes also serve the cause of badass juxtaposition. True, training vicious attack dogs is not a sign of sensitivity. I mean, I definitely wouldn’t count an interest in dogfighting as a badass juxtaposition. But Seagal’s concern about the dog cutting his feet and his way of describing the dogs as his best friends are clearly sincere and make him seem like a big softy. And in the second episode he really does get emotional about these kids. Playing an instrument is one of the classic badass juxtapositions, but in this one it’s a side dish to the main course of saving the children.
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terms of endearment: brother, sister, potna