|Posted by Adam Krause on November 25, 2009 at 6:27 PM|
A Look at A&E's New Reality Series Steven Seagal: Lawman
For years, the world has associated a one Mr. Steven Seagal as the smooth-talking, ass-kicking force behind such guilty-pleasure classics as Hard to Kill, Under Siege and Above the Law. Considered a bonafide movie star back in the early 90s, Seagal was right up there with the likes of Schwarzenegger, Van Damme and Stallone as one of Hollywood’s go-to heroes for ball-busting action flicks. But somewhere along the line, the spotlight faded and quicker than you can say “Straight to DVD,” Steven Seagal had become a middle-aged punch line.
So what has he been up to, you ask? Well, unbeknownst to pretty much everyone, Steven Seagal has been secretly catching the bad guys in real life, serving as a Reserve Deputy Chief for Jefferson Parrish County’s police department in Louisiana. The news, which Seagal purposely kept hidden from the limelight, has been brought to our attention thanks to A&E’s upcoming reality series Steven Seagal: Lawman, a new half-hour show that documents Mr. Seagal and the rest of the boys of the Parrish County police force as they protect the streets of Louisiana.
As Mr. Seagal says himself in the show’s opening credits, “My name is Steven Seagal. That’s right, Steven Seagal,” as if the actor knows how strange it is for America to find out that the 57-year-old martial artist has been secretly fighting crime for a department that serves and protects the poverty-stricken suburbs of New Orleans, a task that I assume isn’t all that easy and care free (I hope the man really is Hard to Kill). How did this come about? How did the star of Today You Die become a distinguished man in blue?
Back in Seagal’s celebrity heyday, Jefferson Parrish County’s former Chief of Police Harry Lee asked him if he could teach his officers some shooting techniques after witnessing the action star’s amazing marksmanship. The training sessions went so well that Lee offered Seagal a position as a fully sworn-in Reserve Deputy, a position that Seagal graciously accepted. And so for the last twenty years, Steven Seagal has literally been Out For Justice while giving the suburbs of New Orleans a healthy dose of Urban Justice (Seriously, these are all actual titles from the man’s films). But don’t worry; even though Seagal is a movie star as well, he doesn’t think he’s Above the Law (OK, I forced that one a little).
As far as I’m concerned, Lawman could have just been call “Cops… But With Steven Seagal As One of Them.” In the few episodes I was able to review, the majority of the show was Seagal and his partner cruising in their squad car talking about how tough their jobs are while occasionally settling domestic disturbances in lower-class neighborhoods and breaking up fights projects overrun by gangs. A&E models much of the show after an actual Steven Seagal action flick, implementing many of the same qualities that appear in his films in order to make the audience see Seagal as the movie’s hero, or in this case, the real-life hero.
The editing is done to make Seagal seem like he has super human abilities in fighting crime, an ability to catch every wrong doing that he passes by while on patrol. The show is even stuffed with classic one-liners that for all you know could have been pulled right from the poster of one of the man’s movies. Lines like “If you can’t anticipate an attack, you can’t defend against it.” Classic Seagal.
The show does prove that somehow Steven Seagal still has a suave coolness to him that he was able to maintain, despite the wrinkled face and bigger belly. The low-toned, raspy voice that made him such a super bad ass in his movies is still there, but now it sounds even sweeter covered up in a thick Cajun accent. And his shooting skills, the ones that got him the job as a police officer, are pretty damn impressive and on display in one of the episodes where Seagal shoots the tops off of Q-Tips from 15 yards away. As one of the police officers that Seagal works with says, “He could shoot a gnat off a fly’s ass.”
Steven Seagal: Lawman will find an audience because, like many of the locals caught on film in the show, it’s incredibly interesting and hard to believe that this washed-up action star is actually a police officer in real life putting himself in harms way day after day, and with no stunt man none the less. Unfortunately, after the novelty of Seagal as a real cop fades, it’s no different then an episode of Cops. It’s really hard for me to imagine the show having any real longevity. But one thing is for sure; the age-old debate can finally be settled. Sorry Jean-Claude Van Damme, but Seagal is officially cooler. I mean, come on, the man is a cop in real life. It doesn’t get any tougher then that. Steven Seagal: Lawman premieres on Tuesday, December 1 on A&E.