Mark-Paul Gosselaar discusses playing Peter Bash on Franklin & Bash, returning with Season 2 Tuesday, June 5 at 10 PM ET on TNT
Mark-Paul Gosselaar became a TV star at the young age of 15 with the hit series Saved by the Bell, and he has maintained a very healthy career on television ever since. The actor is back as Peter Bash in the hit TNT series Franklin & Bash, returning for Season 2 Tuesday, June 5 at 10 PM ET with Episode 2.01: Strange Brew. I recently had the chance to speak with the actor over the phone about the new season. Here's what he had to say.
I was talking with Breckin earlier, and he mentioned the dynamic of you both becoming partners in the firm this season. Does having that new role motivate you at all to clean up your act a little bit?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: First of all, I'm sorry you had to speak with Breckin. I know that can be painful. No, I just think it adds to our show. It was something that, last season, we couldn't really tackle, because we had to pound it over the head who Franklin & Bash were, to see their style and their approach. This season, it's good, because you want to see these guys have a bit more responsibility, and with more responsibility comes more drama. The way that we approach things is by having a lot of fun with the drama. It makes for a much more in-depth show, and allows us to have really good guest stars and come in and play these great roles, these clients we represent. I think the show as a whole, this season, is better than last.
He was listing all these names of guest stars that are coming in this season. It was pretty impressive. Chris Klein, Eric Mabius, Seth Green. I'm even more excited for the season now.
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Yeah. As a viewer and a fan of our show, which Breckin and I both are, we both watch the show religiously, when you say Sean Astin is coming on the show, or Peter Weller, it builds this excitement, before you even know what's going to happen. When you see the show, and you see Sean Astin is playing a superhero, it just makes it so much better. We're so thankful and so fortunate to have these great guest stars. It's also a testament to our show. You're not going to get this caliber of guest stars if your show sucks. It's a testament to our show that people have spoken well about our show, the numbers don't lie, but also, you can ask every single one of these guest stars who have come on our show in the past two years, and each one of them will probably say it was one of the best experiences to work on, because of the environment that Breckin and I and the rest of the writers and producers have created.
I also heard that Claire Coffee is coming back as Janie. Are there any crazy moments between Bash and his ex this season?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Yeah, there's a moment there that will shock some of the viewers, I think. It will either shock them, or they've been waiting for it. We did use Claire in a very limited capacity this year, because of her commitment with Grimm, but rest assured, there are still moments between him and her.
I'm really looking forward to that episode with Seth Green and Eric Mabius. Can you expand at all on who these guys really are?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: In a way, they're the dopplegangers. They're sort of the catalyst for Franklin & Bash to look inside themselves and realize they're becoming something that they fought against for all these years. It's fun to see that dynamic, especially Seth and Breckin, who have such a great rapport with each other and they play so well off each other. That particular episode was more about Franklin & Bash looking inside themselves and trying to figure out if what they're doing is the right thing to do.
Can you talk a bit about a series like this having a 10-episode order on cable? Do you think that order is a more ideal fit, instead of a more drawn-out 22-episode season? Or are you striving towards perhaps a longer season?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Listen, we love this show. Breckin and I love working together, creatively working with the writers and producers and the rest of the cast. I would love for this show to do 22 episodes like a network show. I'd even be happy with 15. 10 episodes, for us, honestly, is too short. We feel like we're just getting into a rhythm and then we're being pulled away. That's a good thing. I've been on other shows where I wish it was just five episodes. It says a lot that Breckin and I, and the rest of the cast as well, all wish that we could film a show throughout the year, because we have such a great environment to work in.
Do you think there is that perfect number of episodes that would really allow you to hit your stride?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Yeah, I think so. When I was on network shows, for a cast, 22 starts to get a bit rough, and I've heard that, for the writers, after 15 or 16, they don't even know what they're writing anymore, and it's hard to come up with the ideas. So, 15 is good. I'd be happy with 18.
Breckin also mentioned that he wrote that Seth Green episode. Is it fun having your co-star actually writing the script?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Those, 'Who wrote this shit?' jokes always land a little bit better, for that particular week. That was a fun week, because we'd say, 'My God, this is just so hard to say.' Breckin is a talented writer, with the show he's doing on TBS right now and the years he's done Robot Chicken, he's a legitimate writer, which a lot of people aren't aware of. It's not like, 'Wow, we're giving Breckin his shot to do something.'
Can you talk about how the relationship might change between Infield (Malcolm McDowell), Bash, and Franklin?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: I like that, Bash and Franklin. He is much more involved this year, because of the dynamic of them being equity partners. There is a level of, not equalness, but, because we're equity partners, we sort of share the responsibility. We do come to find out, later in the season, why he hired us, what the true reason was why he hired us. That will create, I think, for the next year if we get picked up, a completely different relationship between the three of them. It's a good season for Malcolm's characters, and it's a great season for us as well.
TBS is 'very funny' and TNT is 'we know drama,' but this show seems to really have a balance between drama and humor that other TNT shows don't. Do you think it's important to have that comedic edge on a network like this?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: I've asked this question as well. Last year, I felt we were, not out of place, but I wasn't comfortable. Personally, my opinion was, I didn't think the show was comfortable in the spot that it was. In talking with the network and seeing the rest of their lineup, I don't think we're too far off of their lineup. Leverage has moments of lightness, Rizzoli & Isles definitely does, with the relationship between the two of their characters. My opinion is that TNT is, instead of "we know drama," it's, "what is drama?' Drama can be fun. Drama can encapsulate a whole brand of emotions. As much as I felt that way last year, I don't feel that way this year. We are TNT. We are drama, and we have a lot of fun with that drama. I don't think there's a big gap between us and the rest of the shows anymore.
Is there anything you're working on, or anything else you have in development?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: There's nothing in development, but my current direction is to direct, whether that is one of our episodes or something else down the line. I'd like to go into directing. I think that would be a natural fit for me. Acting-wise, there are a couple of things. It's different when you do film, which I haven't done since '98. There are so many things you attach your name to that just never get shot. It's a different process. It's like, 'Well, we may start in June, but it could be July.' Well, I may be going back to a show. There are a couple of things like that, and I'm just dealing with my wedding that's coming up at the end of the summer.
Just to wrap up, what would you like to say to fans of the show, or those who didn't catch the first season about why they should tune in for Season 2?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: It's less about the law and more about the relationship between these two guys. The people who count us off as being sort of a frat show, and the mancave and the hot tub, yeah, there are elements of that, but I think our show is much smarter than those people give us credit for. If they watch just one episode... I defy them to watch just the first episode of this season, and not say that they want to see what happens in the second episode. It start starts off like a typical Franklin & Bash way of starting off a show, and it just goes from there. I think the whole season follows that same path. I defy somebody to watch that first show and go, 'Yeah, I don't want to see what happens to these guys.' It may not be your type of show, but I think you would still have a curiosity of where these guys are going to go.
Excellent. That's all I have. Thank you so much. It was great talking to you, Mark.
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Thanks. You too, man.