TELEVISION REVIEW: Steven Seagal: Lawman – Action Movie Star; Real-Life Deputy Sheriff!

Wednesday evenings on A&E just got a little bit stranger. Steven Seagal: Lawman [10/9C] is a reality series that focuses on action movie hero Seagal’s day job as a deputy sheriff with the Jefferson Parish, Louisiana’s Sheriff’s Office – he’s been a police officer for the last twenty years.


If you’re thinking that the series sounds like Cops with a movie star, you’re partly right – the show’s patrol footage is very like that of the Fox reality show. The difference is twofold: first, until now, Seagal has kept his police job out of the limelight and, second, between the patrol sequences, you get footage of Seagal lending his martial arts expertise to the training and protection of Jefferson Parish police.

The two episodes made available for review, The Way of the Gun and The Deadly Hand, show Seagal and his men dealing with an array of potentially dangerous situations ranging from an overly amorous drunk to a high speed chase. To add a bit of extra drama, there’s a visual effect that’s supposed to give us the impression that Seagal is seeing and remembering details in case of trouble – but it just comes across as cheesy. The real drama comes from the situations; the visual effects are completely unnecessary and distracting.

The best parts of the eps are the training sequences. In The Way of the Gun, Seagal imparts a unique approach to firing a gun to an officer who is coming up for his annual marksmanship test. He backs up his approach by displaying some pretty impressive marksmanship but the drama comes when it’s time for that test. In The Deadly Hand, Seagal shows a group of officers methods for defusing attacks by using an attacker’s efforts against them. What seems pretty cool in a movie is even cooler [and potentially lifesaving] in real life.

So, why has Seagal chosen to highlight this part of life after keeping on the down low for twenty years? “I’ve decided to work with A&E on this series now because I believe it’s important to show the nation all the positive work being accomplished here in the New Orleans area – to see the passion, commitment and fine police work that comes from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office in this post-Katrina environment.

Although it doesn’t happen in the first two eps, Steven Seagal: Lawman will follow Seagal into his private life, as he works on various enterprises including his concert performances and philanthropic efforts.

Although I’m not a fan of reality TV, and Steven Seagal: Lawman echoes other reality series in some ways, I did find aspects of the first episodes – and especially the training and instruction sequences – to be more interesting than what we usually get from the genre. It’s not enough to keep me coming back, but it might be enough for reality TV fans. [Plus, the preview eps arrived in a display that consists of a press kit contained inside a miniature Kevlar vest – how cool is that?]

Final Grade: B-