×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Firm

Once you've gotten past the casting -- Josh Lucas in the central role, with Molly Parker, Juliette Lewis and Callum Keith Rennie as support -- what really stands out is how sluggish the pilot is.

With:
Mitchell McDeere - Josh Lucas
Ray McDeere - Callum Keith Rennie
Abby McDeere - Molly Parker
Tammy Hemphill - Juliette Lewis

As a series derived from a John Grisham novel previously turned into a Tom Cruise movie, originality wasn’t destined to be “The Firm’s” strong suit. Yet once you’ve gotten past the casting — Josh Lucas in the central role, with Molly Parker, Juliette Lewis and Callum Keith Rennie as support — what really stands out is how sluggish the pilot is. Despite a serialized thread and foreshadowing device, the premiere — which ought to establish the premise — plays like a stale “Law & Order” episode. As opening arguments go, the two-hour launch does little to press “The Firm’s” case.

Lucas plays Mitchell McDeere, 10 years after the events in “The Firm,” when the same young associate realized he was working for a corrupt law firm, outsmarting both his colleagues and the Feds. While the lapse explains his age, it’s made any link between the series and source material — as developed by Lukas Reiter, a “Law & Order” alum — tenuous at best.

Having left the Witness Protection Program, Mitch is now trying to make it with a solo practice, with his brother/investigator Ray (Rennie) and secretary Tammy (Lewis) as his staff. The pilot opens, however, with Mitch on the run, teasingly hinting at a larger conspiracy obviously meant to keep the audience from drifting off during the courtroom action that follows, involving a 14-year-old accused of murder and the victim’s grieving family.

At the same time, Mitch is being recruited by another big firm, looking to establish a criminal-law unit to complement its corporate clientele. While Mitch, his wife (Parker) and their young daughter (Natasha Calis) could use the money, he admits to having been “a little scarred by our last firm experience.” Ya think?

A square-jawed hero with a solid feature resume, Lucas certainly looks like a potential series star, but as constituted, Mitch is such a boring straight-arrow — agonizing over one moral dilemma after another — there’s precious little to keep him interesting. The pilot manages to take a guy who’s supposed to be a brilliant legal mind and make him look like a McDeere in the headlights.

Ditto for his family relationships, with even the characters played by Rennie and Lewis (other than her short skirts) — who were certainly colorful in the movie — having little to distinguish them.

After a difficult fall, NBC has been pointing toward midseason, when playoff football — including the Super Bowl — ought to provide a springboard to promote new programs. That said, this first big salvo (previewing Sunday before sliding into its regular Thursday spot) is so flat that it figures only to ratchet up pressure on what’s to come.

Granted, “The Firm” does possess built-in name recognition and star appeal, and there’s always the possibility the serialized elements will bloom. Based on the available evidence, though, the series is a pretty good metaphor for the original law firm: outwardly slick and polished, but with a hollow core.

The Firm

Sun. Jan. 8, 9 p.m.

Production: Credits: Filmed in Toronto by Entertainment One (E1 Television) in association with Sony Pictures Television Networks and Paramount Pictures. Executive producers, John Grisham, Lukas Reiter, John Morayniss, Noreen Halpern, Michael Rosenberg; co-executive producers, Peter Noah, Helen Shaver; producer, Paula Devonshire; director, David Straiton; writer, Reiter; based upon the novel by Grisham.

Crew: Camera, Adam Swica; production designer, Karen Bromley; editor, Jane Kass; music, Trevor Morris; casting, Sharon Bialy, Jenny Lewis. 120 MIN.

Cast: Mitchell McDeere - Josh Lucas
Ray McDeere - Callum Keith Rennie
Abby McDeere - Molly Parker
Tammy Hemphill - Juliette LewisWith: Natasha Calis.

More TV

  • FICG Names Estrella Araiza As New

    Estrella Araiza To Head Up Guadalajara Intl Film Festival

    The Guadalajara Intl. Film Festival (FICG) has announced that Estrella Araiza, until now the festival’s head of industry and markets and director of the Guadalajara IntL. Film Festival in Los Angeles, has been promoted to the position of general director of the prominent Mexican festival. She replaces Ivan Trujillo, appointed director of TV UNAM. Araiza [...]

  • AGS2 Key Art, Image IDs: AGS2_081218_2727,

    Starz Releases 'American Gods' Season 2 Trailer (Watch)

    Starz has released a second season trailer for “American Gods,” which returns to the cabler Mar. 10, depicting the brewing war between Gods old and new in the series based on Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name. “When people first came to America they brought us with them,” the trailer begins, flashing images of [...]

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly Accusers Detail Abuse, Reveal Evidence on 'Dateline'

    The continuing controversy surrounding R. Kelly, including allegations of sexual abuse by a number of women over three decades, was the focus of Friday’s episode of “Dateline.” Speaking to accusers Sparkle, Jerhonda Pace and parents Tim and Jonjelyn Savage, among others, NBC’s Andrea Canning heard more harrowing tales of abduction and sexual misconduct on the part [...]

  • Kenan Thompson

    NBC Orders Comedy Pilots 'Saving Kenan' and 'Like Magic'

    NBC has ordered comedies “Saving Kenan” and “Like Magic” to pilot. “Saving Kenan” is a single-camera comedy starring “Saturday Night Live” veteran Kenan Thompson as a “newly widowed dad determined to be everything for his kids while begrudgingly letting his persistent father-in-law become more involved in their lives.” Jackie Clarke will serve as writer and [...]

  • The First -- "The Choice" -

    'The First' Canceled at Hulu After One Season

    Hulu has grounded the space exploration drama “The First” after one season, Variety has confirmed. The series hailed from Beau Willimon and starred Sean Penn and Natascha McElhone in Penn’s first regular television role. “The First” was set in the near future and followed the first human mission to Mars. Hulu gave the show a straight-to-series order in [...]

  • Nicole Maines Supergirl Trans Hollywood Portrait

    TV Roundup: 'Supergirl' Drops First Look at Nicole Maines as TV's First Trans Superhero

    In today’s TV News Roundup, The CW releases a first look at Nicole Maines on “Supergirl” and Variety unveils an exclusive look at Gabriel Iglesias’ new comedy special.  FIRST LOOKS truTV has released the first trailer for season 2 of Emmy-nominated series “At Home with Amy Sedaris.” The variety sketch comedy returns Tuesday, Feb. 19 at [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content