Tag Archives: The Firm

Spring 2012 Review: The Firm

24 Apr

The Firm and wife chat

The Firm is the sequel to the mid-90s film based on a John Grisham movie which no one asked for or needed, but that is here anyway.  The pilot is a double episode, so it was a pretty much a movie-length first episode of The Firm I was subjected to.

The show begins with the most overused gimmick in the television business – a flashforward to much later in the story, which then moves back six weeks earlier so we can find out how we get there.  I have plenty more to say on why this is a lazy and overused plot device but we’ll save it for another article.  Suffice it to say, it’s not used well here.  For at least the first half of the pilot, I expected to get back to the flashforward by the end of the episode, but realized eventually it just wasn’t going to get there.  I just really don’t understand what the point of these gimmicks are.  Do the creators really think I’m more likely to keep watching to get to a part of the story that seems so disconnected from where the narrative is now that it doesn’t even connect?  In this flashforward, protagonist Mitch McDeere is on the run, searching for THE TRUTH, and meets with a mysterious man in glasses, who may have answers, but, as he’s only a middleman, he decides to jump off of his hotel balcony, killing himself, rather than face the wrath of his superiors.  Flashforward over.

Moving on.  Tom Cruise’s Mitch McDeere has been transformed into Josh Lucas, and Jeanne Tripplehorn’s Abby McDeere into Molly Parker (of Alma Garrett on Deadwood fame, but best known to me as Ron’s infatuation in the reunion episode of Party Down – I screamed out “Call an ambulance!” at least three times while watching her on screen – if you don’t get the reference, stop reading this and watch Party Down right now).  Mitch wants to avoid witness protection after the events of The Firm, the movie, but Abby convinces him that they need help, because she’s pregnant.  Ten years later, they’re finally out of witness protection and Mitch has started his own firm in DC.  They’re just started to get used to a life not on the run.  Working with Mitch at his new firm, is his brother, private investigator Ray (Battlestar Galactica’s Callum Keith Rennie) and his longtime girlfriend Tammy is their secretary (Juliette Lewis in the show, Holly Hunter in the film).

McDeere is struggling to get by, as most of his clients can’t afford to pay.  He’s already shown the judges around town that he’s a competent lawyer, so a judge asks him to take up two different murder cases.  One for a woman named Sarah, which we see virtually nothing more of in the first episode, and two, for a 14-year old African American named Donnell.  Donnell’s being accused of murdering fellow student Nathan Williams.  Donnell claims self defense, but after some investigation by the brothers McDeere, it turns out Donnell was lying, and he actually killed Williams because he was getting in between Donnell and a kid Donnell was planning on giving a beat down to.  Though disgusted, Mitch must be a good lawyer and argue that Donnell be tried as a juvenile, and his vicious cross-examination of a witness angers the victim’s family.  This plot continues with a fairly uninteresting plot angle in which the victim’s father attempts to hire a hitman to kill Donnell out of grief.  The brothers McDeere catch his attempt on tape, and out of respect for a moment of weakness as a grieving father in an otherwise good life, work out a deal with the district attorney which keeps Williams out of jail and with his remaining daughter at home.  That plot is just about over.

The other plotline in the episode is that an acquaintance of Mitch’s invites Mitch to join his far larger firm, which is run by fierce managing partner Alex Clark (BSG’s Tricia Helfer – two Cylons getting to reunite here).  Mitch fiercely wants to remain independent but works out an arrangement in which he can keep his own office while being associated with the firm after he realizes he needs their resources to fight a tort case which he thinks is a winner.  He thinks the firm wants him for the tort case, but we learn, while Mitch doesn’t, that they’re really interested in the Sarah whatever-her-name-is murder case, and if Mitch learns the truth to that case, all these high powered lawyers will go to jail (BUM BUM BUM).  Way to raise the stakes after an hour and twenty minutes of a Law & Order episode.  Apparently, the client of this new evil law firm is the glasses wearing man who kills himself in the flashfoward, which we’re reminded of, since we haven’t seen him in about an hour and 28 minutes.

Also, the son of the mob leader who went to jail because of Mitch may be after him and his family.  Just sayin’.

So The Firm is an all right legal procedural/thriller that clearly aspires to be Damages, (I must credit a critic on wikipedia for making that allusion, which seemed so obvious once I saw it written on the page) straight down to the flash forward format.  The main case was a bit tedious and not terrible interesting, but it is a my dad-approved legal thriller, which means it can’t be too slow and boring, because my dad would certainly not tolerate that.  It really wasn’t bad; it was seriously and entirely unironic, but not The Practice-level over the top.  If you like legal procedurals that could turn into thrillers at the drop of a hat, The Firm might be for you.  That said, legal procedurals have been done so many times that it’s very difficult to stand out, and nothing about The Firm did that.  Without the long-term angle, I don’t think it’d have a leg to really stand on.

Will I watch it again?  Probably not, but I’ll ask my dad for some sum ups of where the conspiracy goes, because I’m that low level of interested.  I can’t wait for The Chamber the series.

Spring 2012 Preview and Predictions: CBS and NBC

3 Jan

(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall (now spring!) television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

1.  Renewal – show gets renewed

2.  13+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed

3.  12- – the show is cancelled before 13

Spring note:  It’s a lot harder to analyze midseason shows as there’s no collective marketing campaigns going on at one time, as many of the shows start dates are spread (or are even unannounced for some)  Still, we’ll take partially educated guesses.  Also, they’re a lot less likely to get partial pick ups, so maybe that trade off will make it easier)

CBS, being the all-powerful leader in television ratings, as older people simply throw out their remotes, because it’s easier to just leave their TVs on the network, has decided that the only thing missing from their line up is a Rob Schneider sitcom.  Thus, because they have just one new show, we’ll be combining their preview with NBC’s.


Rob – 1/12

If not for the existence of Work It, this would have been a landmark moment for obviously terrible television.  Of course, it’s on CBS, so I’d be foolish to count it out so quickly.  Rob is about the comedic and charismatic Rob Schneider, who after years of bachelordom marries into a close knit Mexican-American family which happens to coincidentally conform to a number of Mexican-American stereotypes.  Cheech Marin plays his father-in-law.

Verdict: 12-  Please, please be right about this one.  I’m sure people will watch it because it’s on but at least being on CBS  means you have to beat other CBS shows to stay on, and I’m not convinced it can do that.  I’ve been wrong before about CBS though and I will be again.


Smash – 2/6

NBC’s putting so much stock into this show that they’ve tried to generate good karma by naming it aspirationally.  Postured as Glee for adults, Smash is about the production of a Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe.  American Idol’s Katherine McPhee stars as a naïve Midwesterner come to take boradway by storm as the favorite for the lead.  TV veteran Debra Messing portrays one of the songwriters and Anjelica Huston plays the producer.

Verdict  Renewal – the midseason show I would be most surprised by a cancellation.  NBC is all in on Smash and postponement to midseason was a strategic decision rather than a lack of faith in the pilot.

Are You There Chelsea? – 1/11

Another title change, this time from Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea?, this show is based on the life of comedian Chelsea Handler, with the original title taken from her memoir, and changed because you can’t put vodka in the title of a network show for some reason.  Real edgy, NBC.  That 70’s Show’s Laura Prepon plays Chelsea Newman, based on Handler, while confusingly, Handler will play Chelsea’s older sister.

Verdict:  12-  It could easily get renewed, because who knows, but yeah, it’s looks terrible, and slightly smarter NBC audiences have not tolerated Whitney in the past and hopefully will extend that same feeling towards Are You There Chelsea?

The Firm – 1/8

Rather than a remake of the movie, The Firm is a continuation.  Set 10 years after the events in the film, The Firm explores what happens to Mr. and Mrs. McDeere after they come out of witness protection and start their own family and firm.  Josh Lucas plays Mitch McDeere and Molly Parker plays his wife Abby.  Much of the first season’s plot involves a battle to keep his firm independent against a takeover attempt by a shady firm.

Verdict:  12-  I don’t have a whole lot of faith in this relatively gimmicky remix.  Is The Firm that popular a product still in the public’s imagination even though the film was almost 20 years ago?

Bent – unscheduled

Amanda Peet stars as a recently divorced lawyer who hires a womanzing contractor to renovate her kitchen.  For some reason that contractor is the other main character, and I don’t know how they would keep the contractor if the show went beyond one season (they’re probably as confident as I am that it won’t.)  Jeffrey Tambor co-stars.

Verfict: 12-  I feel bad because I’ve always liked Amanda Peet.  It looks pretty dead in the water even if it ever makes TV.

Awake – unsecheduled

A far more interesting unscheduled show.     Awake stars Jason Issacs as a police detective involved in a car accident, who upon regaining consciousness, moves back and forth between two parallel lives – one in which his son dies, and his wife lives, and one in which the opposite happens.  The farther the two parallel lives more forward in time, the more they separate.  It sounds like it has the potential to be the best science fiction police procedural since Life on Mars.

Verdict:  12-  This seems so likely to share the same exact fate as fellow Kyle Killen show Lonestar.  Rave critical reviews, but nary a chance to get on its feet and become at all popular.

Best Friends Forever – unscheduled

One old friend moves in with another after the first friend divorces her husband.  This is mildly problemtic though, as the second friend’s boyfriend has just moved in and taken over the first friend’s old room.  Hilarity ensues.

Verdict:  12- A fairly low premise sitcom, it’s pretty difficult just to tell from the premise how it will be.  That said, I’m going to err on the side of cancelled – it is midseason after all.