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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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.