Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pilot Review: The Whole Truth

The Whole Truth (ABC)
Premiered Sep 22 at 10pm

Anyone looking for a new legal drama can breathe one sigh of relief: this show isn't nearly as bad as NBC's "Outlaw." That's about the only compliment I can pay it, however, considering how dull and uncreative it is. The hook here is supposed to be following both the prosecution and the defense, as evidenced by the very blatantly spelled-out titles used during the episode. Cutting back and forth between opposing sides is more than a bit frantic, and it makes the trial feel even more disjointed because of the need to constantly pull out opposite pieces to make it all the more thrilling (not quite the effect). The unnecessary use of flashbacks to pieces of the trial that we saw only moments ago is one device I disapprove of wholeheartedly, and its use here was extremely disappointing. The awkward mid-sentence cuts from closing statements into the testimony of witnesses also feels horribly uncomfortable and jagged. The format does manipulate emotions considerably when the verdict comes in because you can only be half-happy since you've been heavily briefed on both sides of the case, but the only thing I felt was apathy. I was also unsure of what the end reveal was supposed to prove, and why viewers are supposed to case. There are no standouts in terms of characters from either legal team, since it's really just about the two leads, though the show doesn't seem to know that. The casting of Eamonn Walker, formerly of "Oz," in a tragically wasted supporting role is clear evidence of poor casting decisions and character creations. Maura Tierney is also sadly without much to do here besides appear unlikeable, and she's demonized to a pretty unbelievable extent while Rob Morrow is portrayed as the rugged hero. His performance can be summed up by noting that he's just as excitable as he is bearded, and he's too much of a loose cannon. The pairing of the two of them just isn't all that interesting, and this show ends up without any real appeal.

How will it work as a series? A legal drama is one genre without a shortage of plots, and the chance to show both sides of every case should present writers with many possibilities. More effort should be spent on crafting the dialogue and structure of each episode rather than just the premise if this show is going to succeed.
How long will it last? Probably not too long. While it could have stuck around for a while, as both leads' previous shows did, this series premiered to ratings worse than last year's "Eastwick," which didn't last long in this time slot. On top of that, the competition is two other law shows: "The Defenders" and "Law & Order: Los Angeles," so this one likely doesn't stand much of a chance.

Pilot grade: D+

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