Welcome back from the holiday break! The winter TV season is underway and you didn’t think the Popdose staff would forget about it, did you? Well, we did kind of forget about it last year, so we undertsand if you’d be skeptical. Anyway, today our TV Editor, Scott Malchus, reviews NBC’s newest drama, The Firm, which premiered last night. What’s his verdict? Read on, fellow dosers, and be sure to leave a comment below!
NBC must have thought they had a home run with this one. Charismatic star: check. Bestselling source material: check. Blockbuster movie based on the source material starring Tom Cruise still fresh in everyone’s mind (and playing on cable): check. Oh wait, they forgot one thing. Make the damn show intriguing.
The Firm began with an exciting sequence around the monuments of Washington DC, with series star, Josh Lucas, being chased by sinister looking men in black suits and skinny black ties. Shot in saturated HD, what immediately popped to mind is the way Damages uses various looks to clue viewers in on when the action is taking place in the present and in the past. Indeed, as soon as Lucas’s character, Mitch McDeere, watches a man jump to his death from a hotel window, the show flashed back six weeks, to when McDeere was just a struggling lawyer trying to run his own law firm after spending ten years in Witness Protection (for the events that took place in the book). Now the father of a ten-year-old girl, McDeere and his lovely wife, Abby (Molly Parker) want a normal life. But, as the opening sequence informs us, hell is eventually going to break loose, we just don’t know when or why.
Slowly, the pieces begin to fall in place and at the end of the first two hours of this show, we have an idea of the kind of trouble McDeere is getting into and who is behind it. The problem is that in between the opening and the big reveal at the end, the show languishes as just another legal drama. Sure, there are colorful characters in the guise of Callum Keith Rennie’s Ray (Mitch’s brother, an ex-con now working as a P.I.) and a terribly underused Juliette Lewis as Tammy (the role Holly Hunter so brilliantly brought to life in the film), but these type of characters are easily found on any episode of Harry’s Law. Thus, we’re left with Josh Lucas acting heroic, stoic, panicked and pained while he tries cases before a judge who calls him one of the finest defense lawyers he’s ever known, and wonders who the men parked outside his house are. Could they be the mob seeking revenge? Could they have something to do with the huge medical malpractice suit he’s preparing?
The only reason I stuck around (besides the obligation I felt to you, my beloved Popdose readers) was to find out what the hell the opening was all about. Unlike the aforementioned Damages, which has a game plan each time the season begins and does a great job of keeping you on the edge of your pants, or Lost, which managed to jump back and forth in time and maintain viewers wonder, The Firm plodded along and threw some red herrings our way to try and keep us guessing.
My guess is that the average TV fan isn’t going to fall for it, even though it has a charismatic star and is based on a bestselling novel. My guess is that NBC is going to find another huge hole in their Thursday night lineup come this April and leading to another mystery- will the network every be able to return Thursday at 10PM to the dramatic glory it experienced with Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law and ER? We’ll have to wait and see.