Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pilot Review: The Defenders

The Defenders (CBS)
Premiered September 22 at 10pm

Both watching this and writing this review right after doing the same with "The Whole Truth," I'm once again thinking that this show isn't quite as bad as "Outlaw," but it does come a little closer than ABC's Wednesday night legal offering. The main problem is the pairing of Jim Belushi and Jerry O'Connell. Only the longtime star of the critically-reviled "According to Jim" could make the absurd O'Connell look a little less ridiculous. O'Connell does just fine for the first few minutes, introducing a new legal aide as a judge and leaving her to fend for herself with a client, and it's only when Belushi begins moaning about how he's discovering that his ex-wife is cheating on him does O'Connell start to look like the sane one. This show is of course designed to be ridiculous, and so it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. To pay a rare compliment to "Boston Legal," this show is hardly the caliber of that show in terms of zaniness and potential humor (I try not to crack a smile when I accidentally come across the James Spader series). Belushi's Nick Morelli does things like spilling water on an epxert witness in the middle of court, and this show hardly seems like it's supposed to be a drama. Unfortunately, it's not funny or interesting enough to be a comedy, and for some reason, the Vegas factor is used to absolutely zero effect, which is just puzzling. Jurnee Smollett's fight to be taken seriously mirrors this show's fight t be taken seriously: neither one is going to go well. The do-gooder newbie fighting her stubborn bosses has been seen on so many other shows, and no new ground is going to be covered here. I was surprised to find that the amazing Natalie Zea, who was hands-down the best part of the pilot, is only a guest star, but I suppose that's good so tht she can easily get a new part when this show gets cancelled pretty soon. Zea isn't the only one being squandered here - Gillian Vigman, onetime star of the fantastic but short-lived "Sons & Daughters," is wasted as Nick's ex-wife. What a pity.

How will it work as a series? We've only grazed the tip of the iceberg regarding the lengths Nick and Pete will go to in their efforts to win cases, and therefore it's reasonable to expect future episodes to show them doing even crazier and more deplorable things. It would also make sense for Las Vegas to become much more integrated with their cases in the future.
How long will it last? Though I would be tempted to cancel it immediately, this show may have a longer life than CBS' previous ill-fated foray into non-CSI Vegas, the Rob Lowe show "Dr. Vegas." The show trounced "The Whole Truth" in the ratings, and until it goes up against "Law & Order: Los Angeles" this coming week, it's looking pretty good to finish out the season, at the very least.

Pilot grade: F

No comments: