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“Outlaw” Premiere Review

Posted by CJ Cregg on September 18, 2010

This picture of the show is better than the show

Well, OK.  Mr. Feeny was right about this one.  I was wooed by the cast and didn’t pay enough attention to the premise.  I was willing to suspend reality momentarily to believe that a Supreme Court justice might resign to help the little guys.  In fact, I liked that as a premise, but the rest of pilot was, to use one of Mr. Feeny’s phrases, sloppy.  Storylines were underdeveloped and just didn’t make sense.  So all in all, an utterly disappointing premiere, and a failure of a show.

Cyrus Garza is a conservative Supreme Court justice who has a change of heart (both politically and career-wise) when he feels tied down to precedent in his role.  So, he resigns, saying “following rules doesn’t lead to justice.” We see an interview done with Garza’s famous father right before his tragic death saying he loved his son, but thought his approach to justice was just plain wrong.  Thanks, Dad.  Oh by the way, I guess you’re right, I was wrong all these years.  After Garza’s resignation, the conservative senators have a fit because now the president can appoint someone and completely change the balance of the Court.  In fact, they actively threaten him with bodily harm.  Which happens all the time, I’m sure.  Garza joins a law firm and picks to defend this accused murderer.  He cites himself in a decision to be allowed to introduce new evidence (um, ok), and in a climactic final scene, courtroom protocol is thrown to the wind as he brings a new witness to the trial and gets in a shouting match with opposing counsel.  Of course, murderer goes free because of new witness and the legal ingenuity of one Cyrus Garza.

Jimmy Smits is a baller with daddy issues in this show.  But he’s pretty awesome.  In fact, he talks a protester into bed in one of the opening scenes.  And he counts cards in Atlantic City yet still manages to rack up massive gambling debt.  But this also doesn’t make sense because last I checked, they vetted Supreme Court nominees pretty thoroughly, and I figure someone would find out if he had bookies following him everywhere.  (Having bookies > playing softball.  Just saying.)  But, I have to say I do like his character, and Smits’s acting is the high point of the show.

His ragtag team of [ridiculously attractive] aides is another problem.  For one thing, I have a joint appointment at the law school, and I

Part of the not-so-loveable team

know what the people who go to law school and graduate top in their class look like.  And it ain’t like them.  Also, they’re not nearly likeable enough.  [But they are supposed to be lawyers, so maybe that’s kinda the point.]  Although, it is nice to see Jesse Bradford (Josh’s intern Pierce on the West Wing) back in a nerdy role, his sexual frustration with Lucinda (Carly Pope) is so utterly obvious and stale.  And the blonde aide who confesses her love for Smits is a pretty bad actress.

For the show to have even a small chance to succeed, it needs to move quicker and give viewers more detail.  For example, we know very little about the facts surrounding this alleged murderer that Smits is defending.  Why was he at the crime scene?  What did prosecutors think his motive was?  Who is the police captain that we find out actually shot the victim?  And why the heck would he have done so?  What’s the deal with this crackhouse they keep talking about?  We just don’t get enough information to really understand what’s going on in the trial or why we should care about it and the characters involved in it.  You can’t make a legal drama and only focus on the characters doing the defending and prosecuting.  It makes the show feel disjointed and lopsided.

Frankly, I think the show missed the mark because it wasn’t intelligent or witty enough.  This is clearly a show targeted at an educated audience, so you need witty dialogue and a quicker, more interesting plot and pace.  Perhaps it’s a victim of my high expectations, and perhaps my love of Jimmy Smits from the West Wing made me want this show to be the West Wing in the courtroom, but it just wasn’t.  The dialogue was bland and uninteresting, and I didn’t so much as chuckle even once.

This show should be outlawed.

As should my bad word plays.

Grade: C-


3 Responses to ““Outlaw” Premiere Review”

  1. Skate said

    Oh how I know Mr. Feeny likes hearing/reading that he is right.

  2. Mr. Feeny said

    I always love to hear I’m right. Sometimes I am wrong, though. But my track record on the blog is pretty good.

    I watched the premiere and it was everything I was afraid it would be. I just couldn’t get past the absurd premise. For all the reasons CJ mentioned. It’s not just that Samuel Alito would never quit the bench and become a liberal (that’s basically who Garza is supposed to be, if you draw current court parallels…and I did enjoy seeing look-a-likes on the Supreme Court). But a womanizing gambler would never get confirmed. And law students who want to learn what it’s like to be a justice would never quit to learn about being a defense attorney in smaller courts. And a senator wouldn’t threaten a sitting justice (separation of powers, anyone?). Completely ludicrous.

    And I also echo all of the legal points CJ made. But since I’ve actually sat through a homicide trial in real life now, I’m unable to watch legal dramas because of how outrageously unrealistic they are. But this was especially so.

    Let me put it this way. The detail of “Outlaw” makes “Glee” look like “20/20.”

    Grade: D

  3. […] The show that I was excited about, despite its ridiculous premise.  (In my defense, I realized after watching the pilot that the show This show was outlawed. As well it should have […]

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