28 September, 2007

Preview: "Justice"

"US legal drama revolving around the world of high profile celebrity attorneys in LA. When an estate agent to the stars is accused of murdering his wife, he enlists a top legal team to defend him. His attorneys make use of forensics, jury consultants and careful spin to defend him in court and against the press, but new evidence keeps emerging that endangers their case." Living TV

This fast moving slick courtroom drama was cancelled early last season which I think was an injustice. (Did you see what I did there?) Although I can't blame the viewers this time and I can't even blame Fox, a notorious ruthless canceller, who gave it two different good time-slots trying to find an audience for it.

It's particularly annoying in that I'm not really a fan of Jerry Bruckheimer's successful police procedurals like the CSI franchise, Cold Case and Without a Trace but I loved this unsuccessful law version. Bruckheimer productions traditionally struggle with non-police shows, for example the previous season's flop Just Legal.

Justice isn't exactly subtle but nothing threw me out of the story, like too obvious exposition, and I kept being interested in what was going to happen - which is the very least escapist TV should do.

The law premise is freshened by examining the cases that are in the media. The American Law cable channel is the law firm's nemesis, because they side with the prosecution and pronounce their clients guilty before trial. Part of the firm's work is about manipulating the jury both before they're sworn in and afterwards. It is all rather cynical at times but it's making a valid subtle point about the legal system. Look at the OJ Simpson trial. The first one. This is how the super rich are defended in commendable and scary detail.

It has a strong main character in Ron Trott, the boss of the firm, who thinks highly of himself - with good reason. He's not exactly likeable, but I think he's still relatable. In fact part of the premise is that juries don't like him and the young handsome bleeding heart lawyer is the courtroom expert.

The pilot starts with a woman lying dead in the pool and the police wanting to arrest the husband. The story starts immediately and the main characters of the law firm are introduced in their reaction to that story and not separately.

That's good way to do it but the danger with it being so plot-driven is that characterisation is neglected and the audience is left admiring the pace and special effects but they aren't emotionally engaged enough to tune into the next episode. Contrary to my own experience, that appears to be what happened with Justice - which is fair enough.

It's a very tricky balance to get right as too far in the other direction and it would be too slow and too talky.

Brilliantly, after the jury's verdict, the audience gets to see if justice was indeed served by a flash back to what really happened.

Justice is well-crafted, undemanding fun and is recommended.

Fridays, 9:00pm (starts 28 September)

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