It’s tough not to at least be a little intrigued by the premise of Steven Seagal: Lawman. Sure, we’ve seen reality cop shows and even celebrity cop shows before, but the idea of Steven Seagal, the man who had portrayed cops on the big and small screen for the last 20 years, running around dispensing justice is something we never thought we’d actually see for real. As a fan of his pictures, it’s astounding to learn that secretly the action star has been a deputized officer for most of his movie career, working to clean up the streets of Jefferson Parish, LA in between acting gigs. It’d be like learning that Sylvester Stallone actually is a heavyweight boxer or Sean Connery was really a British superspy in the 1960s. Perhaps the real question is real or fake police officer is Steven Seagal: Lawman compelling Television or just an unfunny joke?
It turns out; this show could be a lot worse. Those tuning in to watch some sort of train wreck, like you would find on a VH-1 reality show will probably be disappointed, but so will anyone looking for a real life version of Out for Justice or Above the Law with non-stop karate heroics. If we take the Steven Seagal in this show to be the real thing, he isn’t a detective that goes his own way, he actually just seems to be an everyday patrolman. He’s basically a beat cop that services his community and tries to stop crime when he’s called upon to do so.
We see Seagal and 3-5 other men in his unit, driving around and answering calls. They arrest drug dealers and are on the scene of violent crimes, but most of the time they’re not actually witness to the crimes themselves. The whole thing is very “blue collar” to be honest, which is quite the contrast to the eccentricity of Seagal’s public persona. We’re used to seeing him in ridiculous movies, or in ridiculous outfits at public functions, or looking ridiculous on album covers, but here he just seems to be a stand-up guy trying to get guns and drugs off the streets. A car-chase or two does bring a little excitement to the show, but otherwise you get a lot of the minutia of this job, day in and day out.
Where the show may get into trouble is when we don’t see Seagal on the streets. While I think that the “Cops” sections of the series, showing Seagal as a working stiff, can be very effective, other scenes seem like padding. Sections that seem to build the Seagal “legend”, where he shows superhuman marksmanship and karate skills, can come off as a bit silly. Yes, I know that Seagal is an Aikido master, but it seems like pandering to show him doing his thing here, when portions of the show having him out in the community helping regular people are more compelling.
Steven Seagal: Lawman certainly isn’t the worst show on TV and isn’t close to the worst reality show, but it’s also far from perfect. When the show is in the seat of the patrol car, with Seagal riding shotgun, the everyday workings of the job keep episodes pretty interesting. When the series is in “Seagal Mode”, showing what an amazing human being he is, the series veers toward parody a little, even if it turns out the show is 100% accurate. Still, there’s enough here to recommend this show, especially if you’re a longtime Seagal fan.
The show looks pretty good overall. The series is shot on digital, so the picture quality is quite nice with little degradation in this transfer. The sound is also good here, as I didn’t notice any problems or difference from getting to see this show in an HD broadcast.
Additional Footage – You get over half an hour of additional footage. It’s all shown in little clips and overall everything here is as entertaining as the show itself.
Some may be disappointed that Steven Seagal: Lawman isn’t a total joke. Instead of a train-wreck, Lawman is a show that mostly takes itself very seriously and stays grounded in what it’s trying to do most of the time. If you’re simply looking for a Steven Seagal version of Hogan Knows Best with wacky antics, you definitely won’t find it here. There aren’t a lot in the way of extras on this set, but what’s here isn’t too bad. Overall, this is mild recommendation, especially for those who love all things Seagal.
A&E presents Steven Seagal: Lawman – The Complete First Season. Created by: Steven Seagal. Starring: Col. John Fortunato, Capt. Alex Norman, Sgt. Lawrence Matthews and Sgt. Larry Dyess. Running time: 286 minutes. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: March 30, 2010. Available at Amazon.com.
Robert Sutton feels the most at home when he's watching some movie scumbag getting blown up, punched in the face, or kung fu'd to death, especially in that order. He's a founding writer for the movies section of Insidepulse.com, featured in his weekly column R0BTRAIN's Badass Cinema as well as a frequent reviewer of DVDs and Blu-rays. Also, he's a proud Sony fanboy, loves everything Star Wars and Superman related and hopes to someday be taken seriously by his friends and family.