NBCs The Firm: Review

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.

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A Law and Order with Andre Braugher can’t be AWFUL, right?

My disdain of Law & Order is fairly strong. I’ve pretty much always disliked the show.You’d probably stumble across a law blog that talks about television and movies and expect a bunch of words written on Law & Order. Probably in a glowing manner. Nah. Not here. Can’t stand the show.

In short, every time I tune in, I catch myself completely annoyed at the cardboard characters that walk around Law & Order scenes. I’m a lawyer, but, I hate Law & Order.

Andre Braugher, on the other hand, is an actor I’ve almost always enjoyed.

When Braugher was on a real TV show, Homicide: Life on the Streets, he was killing it with consistently awesome performances. His role as Detective Frank Pembleton is one of the best TV cops I’ve seen. He dominated the screen so regularly that Braugher and the show decided something along the lines of, “you know what, this is too good that it might get stale, how about the character has a stroke…you know, just so we can see how your character deals with it.” And Braugher went out and continued to put up good scenes on a great show.

So, it somewhat annoyed me to see him pop up in a Law & Order commercial. C’mon man!

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Great Moments in (fictional) Courtroom History

I’m going to try and run one of these around every Friday. Straight forward, whatever I can find on YouTube that I enjoy, to fit in with the talk we’ll have here about legal moments in the movies, TV and more.

One of my friends from Law School works in New Jersey. Whenever we talk about what we have going on with the law, the thing that always impresses me the most is when he tells me he’s doing Night Court stuff. Crazy jealous, and all because of Harry Anderson.

Expect to see more Night Court clips sprinkled on here. There’s actually a lot of it on YouTube.

If you had to hide 100k for 48 hours, it might not be best to…

…tell the investigators WHERE you hid the 100k.

I tuned in to the ABC premiere of Take the Money and Run last night because the concept sounded awesome. It’s simple…two contestants are paired up, last night, two brothers, and they are given a briefcase with 100k in it and told they have 60 minutes to hid the 100k. Then, after the hour, they are taken into custody and a pair of detectives/cops then have 48 hours to find the loot. If the cops find it, they keep the loot. If the cops don’t find it, then the dudes who hid the money keep it.

Sounds cool, right?

There are also a set of interrogators who get involved by helping the detectives. Their role is to break the would-be-thieves and help aid the detectives in finding the money. This is where my main hang-up with the concept comes in to play. More on that to come.

One of the other problems is that I don’t quite understand the rules. For instance, the cops have access to phone records and GPS tracking of the vehicle that the duo is given. Do they NEED to get in that vehicle AND make phone calls? Is that a game rule? They know that both things give clues to the Detectives, you don’t want to give clues. Don’t you want to hop in a cab? Or just do something other than start handing over evidence? So, for the sake of this, I’m making three assumptions: 1. they can’t use any vehicle/transportation other than the given car. 2. there is a minimum amount of phone calls they are required to make. 3. That they must talk to the interrogators.

Those three points may be way off and this first team might just be really dumb, but it would seem like some of the stupid stuff did was to at least level the playing field for the cops.

They’ve produced six of these episodes it appears, and boy did they pick the wrong one to start. Let me see if I can describe it in a nutshell…

Brothers get briefcase. Brothers 100% commit to hiding the loot in a Mexican Restaurant because one of them knows the owner. Mexican Restaurant is closed. Brothers bury loot in a park. Brothers get picked up by police. Police are rather awful. One brother decides to say, “yup, we buried the loot in a park.”

WHAT?!

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Cool Ways People Found This Blog…

One thing I enjoy checking out when it comes to this blog is the search terms that people use to get to the blog. Here’s one:

“how accurate is franklin and bash”

Really?

The quick answer is “little.” The longer answer is, “wow, very little.”

You should not watch Franklin and Bash and think you’re going to come away with a wealth of legal knowledge. At least when it comes to the particulars of the law.

At times when I watch a legal TV show or Movie, I find myself wondering how well they are applying the law. It’s pretty natural. With Franklin and Bash, you really should not worry about that. I’ve watched several of the episodes because I enjoy the show, but, I couldn’t tell you whether particular points mentioned on the show are correct just because I tune out the legal particulars.

That said, I wrote an entire earlier blog piece about how shows like Franklin and Bash do have a place in showing the legal system. While you won’t get the depth of legal knowledge in FandB that you might get elsewhere, once place the show succeeds is in illustrating the importance of the client on legal proceedings. The client and the specific facts that surround their case.

If you’re wondering whether your lawsuit to obtain a baseball from your father, that you believe he bestowed upon you as a gift, will take 44 minutes to reach a conclusion, no, FandB is not accurate. If you’re wondering whether you can get rid of a DUI conviction by having your attorney down a six pack in court, no, FandB is not accurate. But, I don’t think it tries to be. Which isn’t to say that every legal point they make is wrong, they probably get a lot of stuff right, I just don’t think the point of the show is to do justice to the daily grind of the law system.

If you watch the show without worrying whether the legal nuances are accurate, you wind up with a show that doesn’t take itself seriously and sometimes illuminates the larger point that your clients are people worth fighting for.

Damages Season #(forget numbers – back from the dead) Premieres Tonight

I actually forget the number of seasons Damages had on the F/X Network, and that’s the reason for the headline. The problem? It only returns on DirectTV. Although, clearly, that’s not a problem for those of you with DirectTV, the revival of the show will most likely come via DVD for a lot of fans of the show.

Damages, starring Glenn Close and Rose Byrne, was a show I always enjoyed, but, it never rated quite high enough with me to make it consistent viewing. I’d be all over it now that I’ve got the DVR in play, but, no DirectTV. I actually don’t think I saw any of season 3 of Damages, so, this certainly isn’t a post where I’ll delve deep into Damages, it’s more of a, “do you have DirectTV? Hey, watch it” type deal.

My slip away from the show happened when they iced Zeljko Ivanek in Season 1. He showed up flashback style in the other seasons, but, I was out of the loop. Plus, Ted Danson went from starring to recurring. Ivanek and Danson were the strength of the show, for me, but, still, it always seemed like it had potential, just never had momentum. Every time I watched Season 2 and 3, they didn’t seem to so much continue Season 1 and instead seemed to say, “oh, you’re not watching? The hell with it, we’re going to ante up and kick all-in.”

That sort of television making seemed to work well with The Wire, but, really, that’s credit to the greatness of The Wire. While Damages seemed like a good, but not great show, that just didn’t inspire me to put the work in to really buy in to the series. It always seemed like the show engaged their audience. That’s always a tougher sell. But, again, when it works it can work really well.

There are tons of television shows that are just awful, but, continually get chances based on their fluff nature, so it’s great to see a show like Damages get a second life on DirectTV. Reading about the show, it seems as if things get somewhat of a fresh start, so, don’t be afraid to tune in if you haven’t caught previous seasons. Just be ready for Glenn Close to bring manipulation to crazy high levels.

Legal Television Review: Suits Pilot

I’ve had the new USA Network show, Suits, on my DVR for a couple of weeks now. So, if I’m going to cover the law in media and entertainment I decided to put my hesitation aside and move forward with a review. My hesitation comes from the simple fact that I don’t think there is one USA Network show that I’ve enjoyed. The network just seems to toss out a bunch of below average fluff stuff. But, hey, at least they do it quite often.

The Comcast show guide explains the premise is that a college dropout gets hired to become a lawyer. What’s the point of a tv show having the attorney skip law school? I guess I could understand it if they were doing Dougie Howser J.D., I could understand. Within the first 15 minutes, I think they also establish that the reason why the show is named “Suits” is because you need a $2000 suit to sell marijuana.

Then, the marijuana sale goes bust, main character runs from the cops and winds up in a job interview for a top firm that only hires Harvard graduates.

But, alas, our main character cares for his grandmother and was booted from college under, I guess, sympathetic circumstances. Or, at least sympathy appeared to be the dramatic cues they gave to the scene. Next stop? Harvard…since you know, this guy has to now pretend he went to Harvard law school since this firm just can’t possibly fathom hiring someone from another law school.

So, yeah, now would be the point where you’re probably convinced that Weekend at Bernie’s had a more plausible plot. And, unfortunately we still have just under an hour left in the pilot.

And, oh, the main character just got fired on his first day at the job because the guy who hired him, Harvey, is having second thoughts…then he rehires the kid when threats are made. Which leads to Harvey making the same threats to his boss.

Yikes. But, on the brightside, our wunderkind has just been handed a case. Harvey has pawned off his pro bono case so we can establish the kid as sympathetic (again, even!) and Harvey as a nuisance.

Okay, 45 minutes in and we get our first solid line. Kid needs help on a case, Harvey berates…tells him he would subpoena blah, blah, blah, and the kid says he already thought off that…but, doesn’t know how to fill out a subpoena form. I found that funny, maybe because as a new lawyer, you know the law, you’re ready to attack the law. Or, at least you know where to begin, but some of that procedural stuff draws blanks. Not that filling out a subpoena form was difficult, but, the line at least summed up a struggle I could relate to.

With the plot background shortcomings now out of the way, we segue into a fairly mundane courtroom show. They get a case, it goes south, the day gets saved. Along the way we don’t get much in the way of substance and when they go for some comic relief it just seems to fall short. Which might be part of the problem with this pilot, at times it seems to want to respect the legal profession, so nothing is over the top, but that just leads to a below average episode of tv. As otherwise, the show just isn’t strong enough.

But, if you like pretentious dudes think they are funnier than they are and enjoy winning more than Charlie Sheen…you probably would have considered this an OK pilot. I immediately erased episode two from my DVR. Maybe I’ll check back in with Suits in the future to watch without the contrived background, but, that won’t be any time soon.