What could be better than Cops? How about Cops starring America’s favorite straight-to-video martial artist, Steven Seagal? My colleague Ken Tucker recently weighed in on A&E’s Steven Seagal Lawman when it debuted. And now that the second episode has aired (the third premieres Wednesday night at 10 p.m.), it’s becoming clear that Seagal with a police badge and a taser is far more interesting than anything he’s done since Under Siege.
I’ll admit that I had no clue that Seagal has been moonlighting from his Hollywood day job for the past 20 years as a deputy in Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. But what surprises me even more than that, is the fact that it’s taken this long for some cable network to send a film crew down there to tag along with Deputy Blackbelt on his nightly rounds. You’d never know it from watching movies like Above the Law, but Seagal’s natural speaking voice is a drawling Cajun purr. And while he may be a little more bloated than you might remember, he’s still as quick and silently deadly as a ninja — a ninja with yellow-tinted sunglasses and a tase-first-ask-questions-later attitude.
In the second episode of Lawman, Seagal broke up a parking-lot brawl, chased some dude with an unregistered gun, and taught a bunch of recruits how to use his martial arts magic against perps like they were the star of their own personal version of Out For Justice. But what was easily the best part of the show was when Seagal, sitting in the passenger seat of the police SUV, spotted something through the windshield, and which we then got to see in what I’m going to call ‘Seagal-o-vision’. Basically, the camera zooms in on a suspicious person’s face or jacket pocket and switches into slow-motion so that we’re seeing what Seagal’s heightened awareness and street smarts are seeing. It’s totally cheesy, like something out of the old Six Million Dollar Man TV show, but like the rest of Lawman, it totally works even though it shouldn’t.
Basically, what I’m saying is you need to check this show out, stat. Because whether you love him, hate him, or just plain forgot about him, Steven Seagal hasn’t been this interesting or entertaining in years.