Steven Seagal IS Mr. Miyagi!

“Lawman” is a must-see, but probably not for the reasons Seagal intended.

Last Updated: December 3, 2009 @ 7:21 AM

I’ve seen some outlandish reality show premises in my time – people with 18 kids, celebrities going through rehab, even women pretending to be attracted to the likes of Bret Michaels and Flava Flav. But whoever pitched “Steven Seagal: Lawman” deserves an Emmy.

I can hear it now: “It’s kind of like ‘Cops’ meets ‘Karate Kid’ meets crazy.” This show already has cult status in my book, and it just premiered last night!

Who knew? Steven Seagal, action star, is also Steven Seagal, Deputy Sheriff.  (I know this because in the opening credits he actually growls dramatically, “My name is Steven Seagal –THAT’S RIGHT — Steven Seagal … Deputy Sheriff.”)  Apparently Officer Steve has been serving the people of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, for the last 20 years.

If you didn’t catch the premiere last night, set your DVR. This is a must-see, but probably not for the reasons Seagal intended. Law enforcement is clearly a no-nonsense job, and Seagal seems to be sincere in his efforts to fight crime. The thing is, though, his seriousness translates into sheer comedy; one might compare him to a  William Shatner or a David Caruso.

You see, it’s almost as if Seagal is playing a role on either a sitcom or a crime drama — I haven’t decided which it is yet — about a wacky yet capable Zen police officer.
If you didn’t know that he was a lifelong practitioner of martial arts, then you will … after he mentions it at least five times. Apparently he is one of the world’s highest-ranking teachers in aikido. And just like any guru, he not only has the martial arts experience but the wisdom to back it up.

An example of one of his pearls: “The more we know about what’s happening out there, the safer we are.” A regular Mr. Miyagi.

Adding to the “melodramedy” of it all are some of the post-production effects. It’s almost as if the producers want to set him up as having a sixth sense about crime. The patrol car passes two young men, nothing to be alarmed about. But then, there is some sort of flash and a “CSI”-like sound effect, which obviously means that we are now seeing the scene through Steven’s eyes. He caught something that we laypeople could not. That perp has a gun!

And, by the way, apparently Steven sees in black and white. Must be a Zen thing. 

You’d never guess it, but Seagal is actually an expert marksman. (Again, he is a real police officer, ya’ll!)  While helping a fellow officer improve his aim, he explains that the key is pushing the bullet out rather than just pulling the trigger.

Whatever hippie nonsense he uses seems to work, though. He shows off by shooting the tips off Q-tips, leaving only the “Q.”  When he also shoots the tip off of a match, he seems disappointed that it failed to light but his Zen attitude keeps him in check.  

During altercations with perps, he keeps calm.  When a suspect gets agitated before kicking out the squad car window, Seagal simply says, “That gentleman is not a very good Zen practitioner.” I wouldn’t be surprised if in next week’s episode, he offered a yoga lesson mid-arrest!

This program has so much potential for hilarity and I hope that some of my questions are answered as the season progresses.  For instance, has Seagal been a full-time cop for the past 20 years or is he amping up his presence on the squad for the reality show? I mean, how could a full-time cop find the time to film such gems as “Today You Die” and “Pistol Whipped?”

A&E promises that the cameras will follow Seagal on-duty and off, as he “pursues his many ventures — including musical performances and philanthropic efforts.” Oooh, musical performances! I hope there’s a song about a cop who fights crime with martial arts and movie stardom.

Guess we’ll have to tune in next week to find out. I’m hooked.