Justice: Pilot (series premiere)
(S01E01) This show seems like a regular Jerry Bruckheimer, over-the-top procedural right up until the end, doesn't it? Just like on every version of CSI, the attorneys on Justice have all the coolest bells and whistles to help them do their jobs. Only this time, there's a twist at the end. We spend an hour watching a team of attorneys spin a case in their favor... and then we get to see what really happened. I want to know what evil genius conceived of this show and I want to simultaneously shake his/her hand and slap his/her face for suckering me into an hour of television every Wednesday night. 'Cuz I'm hooked.
This pilot was gripping, wasn't it? Sure, sure... there was a little overacting on the part of, um, everybody. But hopefully they'll sink deeper into their characters as the series charges on. Speaking of the characters, let's critique, shall we?
Ron Trott-T (Victor Garber). I love the idea of a ruthless attorney who can't try cases because juries hate him. I can see something happening in the future where one of his teammates gets caught in traffic or something and he ends up having to address the jury. He's like House, but in a law firm instead of a hospital. And he uses his powers for evil by exploiting the American judicial system. I also like how he assumes the worst about people, for instance, he automatically questions whether his client is on crack.
Tom Nicholson-N (Kerr Smith). It's going to take me a little time to get past Kerr Smith as a high-powered attorney who gets to try major cases. He doesn't look a day older than he did when he played Jack on Dawson's Creek. The man does not age... how does this kid have his name as part of a law firm? Anyway, I like that he's actually a good guy and he has to believe in his client in order to do a good job defending them. And that it's seen as a weakness. Is there a sexual past with him and Alden Tuller? She nodded at him when she mentioned ex-boyfriends.
Alden Tuller-T (Rebecca Mader). I recognize her from somewhere and her IMDB resume isn't helping. I swear I saw her play a vampire in some movie (Bram Stoker's Dracula?). Anyway, she's the accident recreation specialist and she works with kid gloves. She is an expert at making science nerds speak English. She's nice and patient, while Trott is pushy and without tact.
Luther Graves-&G (Eamonn Walker). I get the feeling he likes the challenge of getting a guilty man off. He's pushy just like Trott, but in a much more respectful way. We don't get to know him very well in this episode, but I get the feeling that each of these supporting characters will get their storylines as the series plays on.
The Story. Super smart story to open a series: a wealthy man's wife dies and the media tries and convicts him. Unless you live under a rock, you've seen this happen in many, many forms (sometimes the media is right, sometimes it's wrong). It's so great to be on the other side of the story, isn't it? Coming from someone who has watched a lot of Law & Order, it's nice to see a show where a defense attorney isn't villified and people aren't acting for the good of man. Not sure if that's going to fly with a larger audience since Americans tend to root for the good guys, but we'll see.
I think the extreme tactics employed by the defense attorneys before and during the trial are entertaining. They have all sorts of technology that helps them recreate the accident and scan thousands of pages of paper for key words... but my favorite tactic of theirs was the dummie jury. How can a prosecutor even compete with that? The attorneys change their approach and tidy up their defendant based on comments from a 'jury' of people watching the trial in the law firm. Damn. No wonder these high-powered lawyers are so expensive!
As the attorneys made their way through their own defense case, I started to question whether their defendant was truly innocent. This is some good writing-- there are so many things happening at once here, yet it's all easy to follow. As I mentioned at the beginning, the best part of this show is the end where we get to see what really happened. In this case, the attorneys correctly recreated the accident scene. They were right! I can't wait to see them be way wrong and get a guilty person off or, worse yet, send an innocent person to jail. The last few seconds of the show is worth the hour on the couch.
Other thoughts. I think what's most interesting about this show is that it's not so much an attack on the justice system, as it is an attack on the American media. It seems to take aim at Nancy Grace in particular, by having a younger, less annoying and much more attractive woman anchor a Court show... but with the same guilty-as-charged attitude as Grace. Garber has a great line that (I think) explains this series, "When I started, it was about knowing the law. Now it's about knowing the law and the press. The jury that's going to decide your case is out there and they're watching." Loved the scene where Ron Trott goes on television simply to test their defense with a focus group.
The only complaint I have with this pilot is the opening credits sequence. God, that sucked. It looked like something the editors from CSI threw together at the last minute. I think all the scenes used in the open were from the pilot.