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The Firm, Episode 1.1

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We both defend criminals. The difference is that I'll admit it to anyone, you won't even admit it to yourself.

- Mitch McDeere in The Firm, talking to a tax attorney

 

The Firm is a new television series on Fox, based on a popular John Grisham novel and movie you may remember: The Pelican Brief.

[Spoilers below. Normally I don't like to spoil books or movies, but this is the first episode of a TV series, so really you only learn what happens at the end of Chapter 1.]

 

Set 10 years after the events of the original The Firm, Mitch McDeere is living in DC with his wife and daughter, where he's out of witness protection (by his own insistence) and working in a solo general practice. True to life, McDeere's office is six months old, he has a total of eight clients, and half of them aren't paying him. But, at least he is a Leader of Society, so it's all cool.

All of the old players are back. Mitch is played by Josh Lucas, and if you don't have an HDTV, you'll want to get one just to stare at his incredibly blue eyes (they're literally the only color on screen for much of the show). Molly Parker plays his wife Abby, Callum Keith Rennie plays older brother Ray, the firm's PI, and Juliette Lewis plays Tammy Hemphill, the original PIs girlfriend, who's now shacking up with Ray.

...Say, I just realized that the original The Firm was the second time Tom Cruise played a character with an older, troubled-yet-gifted brother named Ray.

Anyways, the most important thing you need to know about the cast of characters running around Mitch's new office is that Juliette Lewis's skirts are as long as she is attractive, which is to say not much of either. On the one hand, it's disappointing that the "sexy" secretary makes you want to avert your eyes. But on the other hand, it's a pretty realistic scenario.

 

Rather than sending McDeere on another crazy adventure, which would have drawn the reaction of "just how unlucky is this one guy?" the new series continues the plot of the movie. ...Kinda.

After McDeere shuts down Bendini, Lambert, and Locke in the film, the government seizes the entire building, and through their investigation is able to bring down the Morolto mob bosses and get them put away for life. Joey Morolto Jr. has just come of age and is seeking revenge for his family's downfall.

And now here's where things get weird. In the movie, McDeere reaches an agreement with the Moroltos. They okay what he's going to do. If the mob wanted revenge on anyone, it would be the firm partners, who almost certain turned state's witness against the Moroltos.

We could just accept that Joey Jr. is a 25 year old, full of piss and vinegar, and lacking a better target for revenge, picks McDeere. It's not a strong premise, but it holds up. Unfortunately, in a flashback we learn that the Morolto brothers started the revenge effort against McDeere, so our mediocre premise is just flushed down the toilet.

But hey, it's still better than McDeere randomly getting mixed up in another crooked law firm, right? I mean that would have been silly.

...Except that it happens.

In the first episode, we're introduced to a lawyer friend who McDeere met playing in some lawyer basketball league. The friend is at a 60 lawyer white shoe practice, and they want to create a white collar crime practice, bringing on McDeere as the partner to run it.

While watching the show, I was taking notes for things to say in this review. I had planned to say that I suspected the friend had an ulterior motive and would betray McDeere, but the episode went ahead and revealed that. The motivation isn't yet clear, but we know that he's a bad guy.

 

Other than the problems with the whole premise of the show, it's actually pretty decent. The writing is good, it takes a pretty realistic approach to law, and the actors for the post part are pretty solid.

The one weak link is Tricia Helfer, the boss lady in charge of the firm that wants to recruit McDeere. You'd think Battlestar Galactica's Cylon siren would be a bright spot in the show, but her years as a lawyer have not aged her well. Still attractive, though in way that mostly reminds you that she used to be way hotter. Worse is her acting. In Battlestar she was a cold, calculating, killer robot. Helfer is a former model, not a trained actress, and her overacting actually fit with the character. She's basically playing the same character in The Firm, swapping out the red dress for more mundane businesswear, but this time it doesn't work. She's too overtly evil for a cunning lawyer.

 

There's not really a whole lot else to say, since this is just the first episode. The next episode will be out Thursday, January 12, and will have a regular Thursday evening slot on NBC.

One last thing though. There's a scene where Mitch and Abby are talking at home after their daughter's birthday party, and Abby starts the scene with a glass of red wine in hand, but at the end of the conversation, which isn't that long, she's holding a glass of white wine. This could just be a mistake, but I prefer to think that her years of being in witness protection, running from city to city, and now dealing with her husband's struggling law practice have driven her to an exceptional stage of alcoholism.

Anyways, the show is worth checking out. Definitely not as dumb as the other law crap that keeps getting made every year.


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