I wanted to wait a bit before writing this review just to get a better sense of what NBCs The Firm will try to be. At this point, I’ve seen the two hour pilot and the following episode, so, I’m not quite caught up, but, I’ve got the time to write.
There are two main choices in show direction I wanted to talk about. One good, one, well, somewhat on the confusing side.
I’ll start first with what appears to be the general format of the show, which I like.
One of the more noticeable problems that network dramas have is that they have to fill 24 episodes in a season. This isn’t much of a problem if you enjoy shows where you can jump in at any point. But, with the success of shows like The Sopranos and The Wire, television is changing. A show that goes 10-13 episodes in a season is going to focus on a tighter more cohesive story, while the traditional format will allow folks to still jump in and out whenever a particular episode intrigues them.
At first glance, The Firm appears that it will try to balance this idea. There is the overarching story involving the evil Firm, which is obviously needed, but, you also have Mitch McDeere as an attorney handling the case of the week type story. In one sense, I definitely like that choice, as, overloading the conspiracy stuff will burn the viewers out. As an example, a show like Lost seemed to hit a peak for viewership because it was a lot to ask viewers to turn in for that many episodes of story without break.
But, safe to assume networks make more cash off 24 episodes since they aren’t rushing to match AMC, HBO, and F/X with the tighter story telling.
So, striking that balance is the good, what’s the bad?
Seriously, what’s the reason for making this a sequel instead of just a remake? Instead with a remake the viewers are forced to accept a few things such as, how the hell did this happen to a lawyer twice? I mean, hey, John McClain constantly getting into nonsense in the Die Hard series is acceptable because he’s at least a cop. Mitch McDeere has been with two law firms in his life and they are both evil?
We also are stuck with the ramifications of the original movie, since McDeere has just busted out of witness protection to start his own law firm. Danger lurks. Maybe.
And, really, through three hours, this show seems to be at its best when the lawyer, his brother, his wife, and his secretary interact in the small firm setting. But, really that might just come because I dig Mitch’s brother the most early on. McDeere’s brother, played by Callum Keith Rennie, is pretty class as a character, providing strong comic relief as the private investigator for the small firm. The dynamic is fun, so they keep it even when McDeere is swept back into large firm life.
There’s potential with this show. But, they’ve also created a decent bit of clutter by forcing themselves into the sequel form. Also, given the timeframes they lay out to create tension before flashing back to calmer times, it seems like we’ll get deep into the conspiracy stuff fairly quickly, and I’m not entirely sure that’s a good thing.
But, I’m a sucker for Grisham stuff, so I’ll likely stick around longer than most viewers.