"Steven Seagal: Lawman"
9 p.m. Wednesday on A&E
It's not unprecedented, of course. President Nixon made Elvis a Federal Agent-at-Large in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, and he had the badge to show for it. So it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that Steven Seagan has been a deputy sheriff for 20 years. It may even be a trend; Shaquille O'Neal is currently applying to become a special deputy in Ohio.
Now we get to ride along with Seagal as he surveys the mean streets of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, with his trademark squint. Nobody giggles when he calls a suspect "brutha." In fact, he appears to be something of a god in these parts. "I've been doing martial arts for 40 years," he says - many times. Of a man resisting arrest, he notes, "This gentleman is not a very good zen practitioner."
There's not much drama, although you wouldn't know it from the fancy production values. One effective technique: They use slow-mo to suggest that Seagal is having deep thoughts.
In addition to the occasional car chase, the cameras will follow him in his leisure time (promoting his energy drink, writing songs, performing charity work). I admit that I am sincerely interested in what Seagal's home life would be like. But if this show is a hit there is the danger that Seagal's ego would get even bigger, and then the South would really be in trouble. He may be putting the "martial" in "arts and entertainment," but I don't want to encourage him.