Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pilot Review: Outlaw

Outlaw (NBC)
Premiered September 15 at 10pm

Consider me officially disappointed. I had pretty much heard only negative things about this show, but I fondly remember the excellent, under-praised performance delivered by Jimmy Smits on the final two seasons of “The West Wing.” I do think he’s a much stronger actor playing good guys rather than in follow-up parts like season three of “Dexter.” Here, he’s a womanizer and a gambling addict, but he also seeks to get justice so much so that he actually resigns from the Supreme Court to become a defense attorney. All I can say is that Matthew Santos would not approve of the behavior of Justice Cyrus Garza. The show, unfortunately, has far more problems than just the questionable morality of its protagonist, which, for the record, is a negative rather than a positive because it hurts the productive establishment of his motivations and intentions. The most glaring problem is the pesky presence of Carly Pope as Garza’s team member Lucinda Pearl. Think of her as a horribly failed attempt to mimic Kalinda on “The Good Wife” – a spunky investigator unafraid of bending the law to dig up necessary dirt. Her look and voice are grating, and her emasculation of Jesse Bradford’s Eddie Franks is disgusting, and even made me flashback to images of him brushing his teeth next to Kirsten Dunst in “Bring It On” (he’s done a lot since then, so the regression isn’t in his favor). I initially thought that Ellen Woglom, who seems to have grown up by an entire generation so much so since playing Chelsea Koons on “Californication” that I didn’t even recognize her, was a force for good, but by the time she had stupidly spilled the beans about Garza’s death sentence and proclaimed her love for him in front of the client, I wished she would stop speaking for the rest of the series’ run. The show as a whole is much like its lead character, cocky and determined to succeed by harping on emotional heartstrings, like when Garza invokes the very case he’s trying as a precedent and then triumphantly declares that the convicted cop killer should be set free. There have been countless law shows in the history of television, and even from the limited amount I’ve seen in my short lifetime thus far, I can tell this one is trite and stale. As Garza will soon learn, breaking all the rules is a shortcut and won’t actually get you very far.

How will it work as a series? Not well. This first episode was the sensational introduction, and from here on out there will be a ticking clock that is Garza’s gambling debt and plenty of opportunities for grandiose speeches and attempts to modify the law in extravagant ways. I know I’d find that tiring, and I can’t imagine that others, even those with a soft spot for law shows, will be patient enough to sit by and watch Garza try to uproot the entire legal system in the United States.
How long will it last? Not long at all. NBC hasn’t curried much favor in the past year, and the horrendous reviews this show garnered (a 36 on Metacritic) are not going to turn that around. More importantly, this show may have premiered on a Wednesday night, but it moves to Friday nights at 10pm next week. Friday nights are never a good time, though I imagine this one will be axed more quickly due to quality rather than ratings.

Pilot grade: F

No comments: