Aging action stars just got another alternative to retirement. Alongside the options of eternal comeback (Stallone), national politics (Schwarzenegger), nationalist politics (Norris), and postmodernism (Van Damme), you can now add reality TV. A&E recently announced that it will debut Steven Seagal’s debut turn on the small screen, Lawman, late next year. Seagal is apparently an active deputy with the Jefferson Parrish sheriff’s office (which includes New Orleans outskirts), and the show promises to follow his new career in law enforcement. Seagal says he wants to show the positive side of post-Katrina Louisiana, and indeed, it’s hard to think of a better way than by hauling cameras and a celebrity down into the state’s criminal underworld.
Still, questions remain: How many perps, if any, will ID Seagal? (Non-perp Anderson Cooper nailed it but, then again, it’s his job to be observant.) There is precedent for this question. Sultry 90’s CNN anchor Lynne Russell moonlights as a sheriff’s deputy, and was recognized doing drug searches at Dead shows. David Lee Roth, on the other hand, worked as an NYC paramedic 5 years ago, and no one recognized him. Seagal will have to break this tie. Of course, a program teaming Russell, Roth and Seagal in one mighty crime-fighting celeb-squad would be the holy grail of reality TV to come. Add a laugh track and you might just have the hit of the next decade.
A year is a long time to wait, however. Because reality TV is the most scripted and manhandled genre in the history of television, not to mention the most dependent on viewer feedback, here are three predictions for how Lawman will go down.–Sam McPheeters
EPISODE 1: “Officer Down” – On a routine eviction trip to a FEMA trailer park, Seagal is ambushed by North Korean terrorists and left for dead in the bayou. A talking coyote nurses him back to health. Although the coyote expresses little patience for Seagal’s new age beliefs, the two eventually put their differences aside, infiltrate the terrorist’s mansion, and plant explosives in the building’s heat ducts. But when the time comes to detonate, the coyote gets a paw stuck in some C4 and sends a telepathic message to Seagal to save himself. From a nearby hill, Seagal salutes his friend as the building explodes in a fireball. Guest star: Morgan Freeman (voice of coyote).
EPISODE 2: “Danger Zone” – Steven gets busted for excessive force and demoted to the property room. After uncovering a plot to dump unclaimed property in a nearby aquifer, he tracks down a conspiracy between corrupt NOPD typists and shadowy oil execs. Several car chases and shootouts later, Seagal kicks all the conspirators to death and a grateful Governor Jindal awards him the key to the state. Could a ’12 veep slot be in the stars? Guest star: Tom Arnold (as the Dalai Lama).
EPISODE 3: “The Show Must Go On” – Steven’s band, Thunderbox, plays a small blues joint on the Delta. After soundcheck, the nightclub owner warns Seagal that the club is haunted by a Yeti-like monster attracted to glittery jewels and watches. The band returns to their dressing room to discover all their jewels and watches are missing. Later, during the set, Seagal spots the monster crowd-surfing. He lunges and yanks off its rubber mask, revealing the club owner himself. “I would’ve gotten away with it,” the owner shrieks, “if it hadn’t of been for you meddling Hollywood types!” Special guest star: Bo Diddley (CGI).