Premiere, written by executive producer Dick Wolf, has Wright representing a young woman accused of murdering her older, wealthy lover. After some keen investigation and enjoyable courtroom histrionics, he naturally smokes out the real killer.
Filmed in New York by Wolf Films Prods. in association with Universal Television. Executive producer-creator-writer, Dick Wolf; co-exec producer, Don Kurt; producer, Cleve Landsberg; director, John Patterson; camera, Reynaldo Villalobos; editors, Michael Kewley, Michael Lynch; production designer, Tony Cowley; sound, Walter Hoylman; music, Mike Post. #Cast: Tom Conti, Margaret Colin, Aida Turturro, John Glover, Sara Botsford, Heather Fairfield, Kurt Fuller , Leslie Mann, Paul Collins, Christine Estabrook, Steven Gilborn, Nada Despotovich, Stan Ivar, Brian George, David Carpenter, John F. O’Donohue. The Wright Verdicts” is mature in the best sense: it’s smart, has no false innocence and has the right amount of fun. Criminal lawyer Charles Wright (Tom Conti) will win juries over like clockwork, and the series should likewise charm viewers.
The character’s chief skill is blarney or, as his investigator puts it, shucking and jiving. Charles is bumbling and self-deprecating one minute, erudite and mischievous the next.
Conti is marvelous: You believe the slight stammer as much as the literary quotations. Conti brings off Wright’s sense of humor and his status as a ladies’ man; it should be interesting to watch the character develop.
The dynamic between Conti and his two female employees, adoring assistant Lydia (Aida Turturro) and crusty investigator Sandy (Margaret Colin), needs some work. It’s a little stagy and there’s so much flirtation that the relationships in this office triangle seem headed in only one direction.
Production designer Tony Cowley has created a great office: a spacious townhouse with pool table, clubby leather furniture and skylights to die for. (Wright actually declines to appear on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”)
Wolf knows his law, or at least he knows how to make the law substantial and accessible. Thanks to director John Patterson and good editing by Michael Kewley and Michael Lynch, the courtroom scenes are handled with aplomb. The hour has a surplus of spectacular aerial shots of Manhattan.
A well-heeled criminal lawyer with a golden tongue won’t help CBS make any inroads into the 18-49 demographic, and the courtroom drama format can’t be expected to yield many surprises. However, coming from a winning stable and with an irresistible title character, “The Wright Verdicts” has plenty of appeal.