“The Defenders” Premiere Review
Posted by Mr. Feeny on September 23, 2010
Another procedural, another legal drama. And yet…for some reason — one I’m not completely sure of — I like The Defenders.
I know what the primary reason is: charisma. Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell have it. In bunches. No matter what they’re doing or saying, I end up smiling. I enjoy watching them on television. But that’s the designed appeal of the program. There’s plenty of buddy cop shows. How many buddy lawyer shows? Not only buddies with each other, but with their clients. And with all of Vegas, apparently.
The typical lawyer in this type of show is the prosecutor in the premiere. Clean-cut, well-dressed, arrogant, serious, formal. Belushi and O’Connell are the exact opposite. They have an everyday demeanor. They’re not the best looking, they try to add some light-heartedness, and they react like we would in the courtroom. I really felt like that’s how I would be as a lawyer. It was casual and conversational.
Now, maybe that’s not realistic. Like in all legal shows, the details of the courtroom are sketchy. But no 42-minute show can do the justice system…justice. Writers have to take liberties. But I actually thought it was more genuine than a lot of shows. Because of the comedic aspect of the show, this surprised me the most. It would be easy to sluff off those particulars in the name of entertainment. But they made a good faith effort to proceed like a normal courtroom would. Judge giving instructions, jury submitting questions, facts presented in a restrictive way. That’s how real courtrooms work. Much more than Outlaw.
But they also take liberties in the defensive strategy. They’re a little avant-garde. And that continues the fun as Belushi tries to push the buttons of the judge (played excellently by Stephen Root, as always…he’d better be a reoccurring character) just to indirectly get his way. And they have a fricking billboard up, with the two of them posing with their fists up. Only in Vegas. Or Albuquerque.
This is one of those shows where I don’t need excellent character development. It’s akin to The Good Guys or Psych. I’ll watch it for high entertainment, not thoughtfulness or meaning. But it is more serious than either of those shows.
I can’t wait for the inevitable crossover with CSI.