Thursday, January 12, 2012

REVIEW: The Firm

NBC - Thursdays 10/9 Central

Taking place 10 years after the original, The Firm follows Mitch McDeere (now played by Josh Lucas instead of Tom Cruise) after taking down Bendini, Lambert & Locke, a mob run law firm.

With the looks of an average procedural law show, The Firm struggles to distinguish itself from others in the genre.  Except that there is something sinister going on at Mitch's new new firm, headed by a Cylon (Tricia Helfer).

1. Does it entertain me?
The Firm never fails to be boring, I'll give it that.  The problem with the pilot, which aired on Sunday in a two hour special, is that it never really succeeds in becoming something other than a legal drama.  Josh Lucas is very good in the role of Mitch McDeere, blending a little bit of Grisham's Mitch and Tom Cruise's Mitch, and he really makes it his own character.

Mitch is presented as a kind-hearted lawyer who cares about the human aspect of the law.  He helps the impoverished and gives people a chance at a good lawyer who would not normally have that.  Through awkward moments of exposition, we learn that Mitch came from a tough childhood, had to scrape for everything he got, and graduated top 5 from Harvard Law (this is the moment of Cruise's Mitch, since Grisham's Mitch was never this arrogant).

Mitch is tasked with defending a 14 year old boy who murdered a classmate, but we don't know if it's through self-defense or not.  The courtroom scenes are very well done, along the same lines as any Law & Order out there.  They are believable and effective.

The greatest moments of intrigue come at the beginning and end of the episode, with Mitch running from something, although we don't learn out what (tune in next time!!  Will Mitch finally get his due for putting away a notorious mob boss?  Will Mitch's daughter be invited to Jenny's birthday?  We'll find out!).  There is also a Legion of Doom meeting between the partners at Mitch's new law firm where they all discuss bringing Mitch on board for a reason, and it's not because of his million dollar payout coming.  They were also eating live bunnies.

So the question remains with The Firm: Will it become anything more than a standard legal drama?  If the answer is yes, then this show is worth watching.  If not, it may still be worth watching, but only if you enjoy legal procedurals.

2. Is it realistic?
It is, as long as you can get past the fact that Mitch might be getting sucked into another sinister law firm.  But that may just be a problem with the pilot, and other episodes may answer that question.

A very surprising and pleasant part of the show that I rather enjoyed was the relationship between Mitch and his brother, Ray, an ex-con now turned Private Investigator, played by Battlestar Galactica vet Callum Keith Rennie (which, if you're counting, makes 2 cylons on this show.  Out of a possible 12; the times are good right now for actors who have played machines.  I look forward to seeing the girl who played Vicky in Small Wonder soon).  They have good chemistry together, and they also work well in a sleazy/straight-laced team.

Time will tell if the realism of the rest of the show stays in place, or if it quickly devolves into the absurd.  I wouldn't put it past this show to abound in Idiot Plots (where characters do things that don't make sense for the sake of advancing the plot).

3. Are immoral actions defended?
Not by any of the protagonists.  Mitch and Ray do entrap one of the characters who wants to put a hit on the 14 year old boy who killed his son.  But they also go about it in such a way that he never has to serve time for a mistake he could have made, and instead help the man out.  So that was swell of them.

Other than all that, there really weren't any immoral actions to be found.  No murder, no premarital sex (or any other kinds of sex for that matter).  Sure, you might get some of the lawyers acting as lawyers and doing law things that I don't understand but which could be construed as immoral, but generally not.  

4. How does the show deal with the family and traditional family values?
Very well.  Mitch and his wife Abby have a 10 year old daughter who is going through the usual 10 year old daughter types of things: will anyone come to my birthday?  I'm tired of moving, I finally have friends and I like my school; should I be wearing this much makeup to go to public school in Washington DC?

Plus, you get the added bonus that the mob boss' son from the original book and movie is now trying to exact revenge for his father's death.  Talk about honoring your father! (note, I am being facetious here, and I am in no means suggesting that you avenge your father's murder by Tom Cruise).

There is no adultery, no homewreckers, no letting their kids watch Whitney.

Granted, this is just one episode, but for the most part, the family value portion of the show is very high.
The Firm is a nice legal drama that airs after the wonderful comedies on NBC on Thursdays.  It is well acted and fairly well written (it's not perfect).  I would recommend giving it a look and seeing if a legal procedure with mob possibilities is right for you; but if not, I wouldn't feel bad about missing it.

Grade: B

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