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Partners: Kelsey Grammer and Martin Lawrence (FX)

Image Credit: FX

Kelsey Grammer and Martin Lawrence team up for 'Partners'

Season 1 | Episode 1 | “They Come Together” | Aired Aug 4, 2014

FX has an interesting split of shows these days, with the majority being critically acclaimed darlings (like Fargo and The Americans) or loud and exciting audience favorites (like Sons of Anarchy and American Horror Story). Partners falls into the smaller category of broad multicamera sitcoms that FX has recently been generating, starting with Anger Management and Saint George.

“Truth and facts certainly have their place in society, but do they really have a place in a court of law? … No.” So says Kelsey Grammer’s Allen Braddock after being fired from his father’s law firm at the beginning of “They Come Together.” Partners establishes early on that Allen is an unethical man, even having him come right out and say it later on: “I’m well versed in legal ethics. How do you think I’ve avoided them for so long?”

Martin Lawrence’s Marcus Jackson is a down-on-his-luck lawyer, a man who’s supposed to be seen as the polar opposite of Braddock. The problem is that while everyone continually says what a good man Jackson is, there’s little evidence to back this up. Jackson is a smartass, insulting almost everyone around him. This is supposed to be explained away by his ongoing divorce with his ex-wife, Renee, who’s currently trying to take all his money in the settlement. When his daughter, Laura (Danièle Watts), admits she is staying celibate until marriage because of her parents’ divorce, Marcus’s mother, Ruth (Telma Hopkins), responds, “Honey, you can only save a pork chop for so long before it dries up and won’t attract anything but flies.” Yup, Partners establishes early that it has no problem sending poor messages for the sake of a joke.

Jackson and Braddock meet by chance in court one day, where Braddock is given pro bono cases to work and Jackson sadly sleepwalks through his divorce settlement (which his ex-wife doesn’t even bother to show up to). Sensing Jackson’s vulnerability, Braddock corners him in the men’s room and convinces him to help with the pro bono cases in exchange for some fresh eyes on his settlement terms. Jackson refuses at first, but is worn down by Braddock and reluctantly admits he needs help.

Braddock does some digging and suspects Renee of having left Jackson for a local priest: “Looks like Renee’s been giving her little heart-shaped box to someone else.” They break into the priest’s room and find that Braddock’s theory is correct (“She gave him a second coming!”). This allows Jackson to finally stop feeling guilty about the divorce; he decides to take a hold of his life. Braddock gets him a better divorce settlement and they sort of become friends in the process.

After the divorce is taken care of, Braddock proposes joining Jackson’s firm. He needs a job and Jackson needs more money coming into the firm. Jackson declines because he recognizes what a terrible human being Braddock is. He can only resist for so long before Braddock passes a large check to him. He takes the money and agrees to the partnership.

Partners stars two comedy legends who’ve never been seen together before. If you like the multicam style, broad sitcom humor and one or both of these guys, odds are you’ll dig the show. This first episode spent much of the time convincing Braddock and Jackson to team up, but once we see a few episodes of them working together, their chemistry will make or break the show. What did you think? Was the pilot what you had hoped it would be? Will you be watching more episodes?

Other thoughts:

- Braddock is not respected in the courtroom at all, and the judge remarks, “You used air quotes every time you said ‘the law.'” He says he’ll bring a lot of money into the firm, but there doesn’t seem to be much evidence supporting this. The characters who know him seem to agree that he’s a joke.

- The office assistants don’t get much time in this episode, save for short introductions to both. Edi Patterson is easily the funniest part of this episode as the seductive Veronica, who is as quirky as she is boisterous. Rory O’Malley’s Michael doesn’t make much of an impression besides allowing Braddock to make another offensive joke by stating, “I’m guessing [your favorite legal film] is ‘Legally Blonde.'”

- Braddock also discusses intimate details of his sex life in front of Laura, Jackson’s teenage daughter. He is pretty despicable.

Partners, rated TV-14, airs Mondays at 9/8C on FX.

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