Review: FX's 'Partners'

FX’s new comedy series Partners pairs two situation-comedy veterans, Kelsey Grammer (Cheers, Frasier) and Martin Lawrence (Martin), as down-on-their luck lawyers who join forces to work together in a firm.

Grammer plays high-end, elitist lawyer Allen Braddock, who’s looking to get back into the game after his own father fires him from the family firm. The ethics-challenged Braddock seeks to win high-profile cases through any means necessary by exploiting legal loopholes and twisting the truth. But after getting chastised by a judge for his unethical behavior, he’s given the task of representing several cases pro-bono, much to his chagrin.

During his stint in the courtroom, Braddock runs into Marcus Jackson (Lawrence), a recently separated, ethicsdriven lawyer who is there to meekly agree to divorce terms that shift heavily in favor of his wife in an effort to keep peace within the household. Braddock and Jackson eventually meet in the men’s bathroom and Braddock coerces Jackson into taking his caseload off his hands in return for representing Jackson in his divorce case.

The two characters are as compatible as oil and water, and the banter between them often drifts into jokes about race and sex, but the two eventually realize that they could be an asset to one another and agree to work together in an odd partnership.

The chemistry between Grammer and Lawrence is strong, aided by a supporting cast that includes Marcus’s hilarious assistants Michael (Rory O’Malley) and Veronica (Edi Patterson), Braddock’s spoiled step-daughter Lizzie (McKaley Miller) and Jackson’s busybody mother Ruth (Telma Hopkins).

Partners is not afraid to tackle and poke fun at any situation: in the second episode, the two lawyers pose as an engaged gay couple to uncover the illegal practices of a wedding planner — and both Grammer and Martin pull it off with engaging humor.

FX signed the Debmar-Mercury-distributed Partners to the 10/90 model, meaning the show’s first 10 installments must meet designated ratings thresholds in order to get renewed for an additional 90 episodes. Given the positive look of the first two episodes, the series could be in for a long run on FX.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.