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October 7, 2015

Justice: Pilot (series premiere)

by Anna Johns, posted Aug 31st 2006 1:16AM
(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.

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Since this is a part of what I do for a living - I thought the main weak point was that they tried to show too damn many parts of what we do - all at once. But if the ocus more indepth on the way this new generation of trial prep is fundamentally altering the legal system - it could get very interesting. It's a bout time a show gave me too much - rather than too little - now they just need to tune it a bit.

September 05 2006 at 10:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chris w

I tuned in because the promos looked interesting. I honestly thought I would be tuning out after 15 minutes because it was goong to be a piece of shit like "Vanished". I was pleasantly surprised how good it was. It was slick, flashy, and the story moved briskly. And I liked Victor Garber. He was a bit over-the-top, but I bet James Woods will chew more scenery when "Shark" premieres.

August 31 2006 at 4:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


August 31 2006 at 1:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought the show was great. It would be nice if the networks could come up with something else besides legal-themed dramas, but when their good like Justic I'm OK with it. I agree Kerr Smith is hard to take as a high-priced defense attorney. The show definately has potential and I like that you don't really know the truth of the crime until the end; although, I think this will be the most difficult part of the series to maintain. Sometimes, you just KNOW who the bad guy is. Keeping things jumping and original will not be easy for a weekly show. Here's another question: who's bright idea was it to give Victor Garber the bad die job? I mean, he was totally grey on Alias; now we have black hair with touches of grey? Does not look good on him. Justice is going to have somke stiff competition when all the networks role out their new season, but this is FOX.

August 31 2006 at 12:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I knew from the ads I had been seeing, leading up to this premiere, I would like this show. After seeing it I Love this show. I am a big fan of the legal type shows and have read authors like John Grisham for years. Way to go Fox on Wednesdays we have Bones(excellent by the way) and now Justice to watch.

August 31 2006 at 12:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Garber was way over the top. He actually might be the reason this show flops. He's annoying and really doesn't fit into the team. The other three seem to have the same personalities and then he offsets that bigtime and it doesn't work. He comes off as the blow hard who takes cradit for everyone elses work. I didn't like that.

August 31 2006 at 11:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Garber came off like a comedian impersonating William Shatner. I couldn't take it, and changed over to watch coverage of Ernesto on the Weather Channel.

At least THAT blowhard had a purpose.


August 31 2006 at 11:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Great show -- but I think its important to note that each episode is self containted -- it's not a continuing story like vanished or kidnapped -- which might interest more people to take a look. Wed at 9 on Fox.

August 31 2006 at 9:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Oh yeah, and I agree with the opening sequence discussion. How did that thing get past test audiences? Or did it even get shown. Slowed down the show significantly. A show like that needs nothing more than a title against a black background, so they can get back into the show. Did it remind anyone of the 90210 opening?

August 31 2006 at 9:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was thinking that there'd be a possibility that he'd get off and then we'd see what really happened is that he did kill his wife. Would have been a twist. Would have been a statement about the judicial system. But it would have pissed too many viewers off too early.

Over the top? I say just right. Telling a story that spans several months in one hour needs to be intense. There shouldn't be anything slow about it. Think about 24... lots of over the top stuff there, but they pull it off quite well.

Good show... makes "Vanished" look like a soap opera...

August 31 2006 at 9:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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