The Firm is an NBC show based on the 1993 film starring a pre-couch jumping Tom Cruise (the film itself is an adaptation of the 1991 novel by John Grisham). Interestingly enough, the television series is not a remake, but a sequel to the events of the film. So how does Mitch McDeere (now played by Josh Lucas) find himself once againworking for an evil corporation?
Let’s break it down after the break…
Alright, let’s get this out of the way right away: that was a terrible pilot. Whoever edited that episode should absolutely be forced to take remedial classes because the pacing of that sucker was glacial. And two hours? Why was that necessary?! It was like NBC wanted to punish viewers, which just seems cruel after already unleashing Whitney on us this year.
Too soon? Alright, let’s move on.
My big issue with the pilot was that it took an interesting premise, threw us into the middle of it by beginning in medias res (as many shows do) and then bored us to tears with a sub-par Law and Order style case that didn’t serve to advance the plot or round out the characters. Yes, we understand that Lucas’ Mitch McDeere is a good lawyer who does the right thing, but did we need two hours for that? (Answer: No). It seems to me that this could have been addressed in the opener with a quick case and then goes straight into the meat and potatoes of the shady ongoings at the firm. That’s what we’re interested in, not a routine murder case.
The whole set-up was particularly problematic because a) lawyer shows are a dime a dozen and we’re all familiar with courtroom speeches, quirky judges and plea bargains (at least the ‘TV friendly’ kind) and b) we’ve seen this premise before and we’ve seen it done better. Case in point: Go back and watch the first episode of Damages (TVangie’s fifth best show of the year). Damages is a brilliant serialized drama starring Glenn Close and Rose Byrne with practically the same premise: an evil firm corrupts our innocent protagonist and sends her fleeing for her life. It also begins in the near-future and then jumps back in time to tell us how it all came about. The difference is that Damages trusts viewers to retain details and pay attention, and rewards their interest by delivering relevant cases that actually matter.
The fact that this extended pilot closed with the reveal that SPOILERS the case the firm is truly interested in is Sarah the insurance broker’s murder trial (aka the one we spent the least amount of time on) just reinforces that all the other cases didn’t matter END SPOILERS That’s two hours of time that we will never get back, which is a bit of an “eff you” from the show creators to their potential audience. Shame on you, The Firm.
- If I sound frustrated, it’s because I really like Josh Lucas and Molly Parker. Then I saw that Juliette Lewis and awesome Canadian actor Callum Keith Rennie are also involved! Four great actors who deserve to be more popular and they are wasted in this conventional premise. Let’s hope upcoming episodes allow them to do more.
- Everybody catch Battlestar: Galactica‘s Number Six, Tricia Helfer, as Alex, the big boss of the firm? If you didn’t, that’s probably she was on air for around two freaking minutes. Again: what a waste.
- Mitch and Abby (Parker) have a daughter. The moment I saw this, I inwardly groaned because children are such a soul suck on these kinds of shows. Raise your hand if you think this brat is going to a) cause trouble b) get kidnapped/threatened or c) force Mitch and/or Abby to do something stupid to protect her. Yeah, all of the above is the correct answer. Le groan
- Much like our Revenge recaps, I feel like there’s a drinking game to be played every time someone at the firm does something evil. We’ll all shout “THE FIRM” and down tipples of scotch (cause that’s what lawyers drink, right?)
- Due to the sheer crapactular status of the pilot, I’m putting this show on a three episode commitment (‘Chapter Three’, the next creatively titled episode, airs this Thursday night). Looking at the ratings, it appears most didn’t even give it one episode to plead its case. We’ll see how long this one lasts…