Monday, February 20, 2017

Pilot Review: Doubt

Doubt (CBS)
Premiered February 16 at 10pm

I wasn’t sure what to make of this show since I presumed ahead of time that it was just going to be a normal procedural, and then I read a summary about how it had more to do with the protagonist of this show falling in love with the man who may or may not have killed his girlfriend twenty-four years earlier. It turns out it’s both, though as always my first question has to be whether it really constitutes something that can go on for a whole season or even more than that. This feels like a pretty standard legal show with one particularly high-profile case mixed in that’s going to draw most of its attention. This series has managed to attract a lot of strong acting talent. I’m not Katherine Heigl’s biggest fan, often finding her appealing but not nearly as much as the diehard “Grey’s Anatomy” fans and Emmy voters who gave her a trophy for her performance. I liked Steven Pasquale best in his stint as a dim-witted firefighter on “Rescue Me,” and this part feels more like his less enticing gigs on “The Good Wife” and “Do No Harm.” There are three other members of the cast with great TV backgrounds who stand out much more: Dulé Hill from “The West Wing” and “Psych,” Dreama Walker from “Apartment 23,” and Laverne Cox from “Orange is the New Black,” all playing lawyers with some decent personality. And then there’s Elliott Gould, who has a great role and even a deeply personal connection to Heigl’s Sadie, namely having fallen in love with her revolutionary mother, who just happens to be in prison for the murder she committed years earlier. There’s more intrigue here than there is on similarly-themed shows, but I still don’t think it’s enough to distinguish it from many other series of the same sort.

How will it work as a series? The question is what the time split is going to be between Billy’s case and everything else that’s going on, and how many lawyers are going to play a part since Sadie has now recused herself to take a separate interest in the case’s central figure. This episode’s subway pusher was a decent subplot, and so I think this show could replicate it well in the future.
How long will it last? The ratings for this pilot weren’t great, and neither were the reviews. The former is a much bigger problem given CBS’ high demands on its programs to perform. I wouldn’t give up on this one just yet, but I think it’s going to need to improve its viewership soon if it wants to live a long life.

Pilot grade: B-

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