E1 Entertainment // 2012 // 990 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Jim Thomas // December 12th, 2012
The Truth is Always Dangerous.
Ever ready to try and cash in on a proven brand, CBS commissioned The Firm. They decided to pass, so NBC picked it up, which eventually resulted in a lawsuit from CBS -- vaguely appropriate, given that we're talking about a John Grisham plot. So, did you ever wonder what happened to Mitch McDeere after he brought down Bendini, Lambert & Locke? To satisfy that burning curiosity, E1 brings us The Firm: Complete Series. On appeal, though, that burning might just be that day-old burrito.
Ten years ago, Mitch McDeere (Josh Lucas, Sweet Home Alabama) had it all; fresh out of law school, he had signed on with one of the most prestigious firms in Memphis. His world started to crumble when he discovered that his firm's major client was the Morolto crime family. Pressured by the FBI, McDeere came up with a plan that brought down the firm, and had a side effect of sending Joseph Morolto to prison for life. With a price on their head, Mitch and his pregnant wife Abby (Molly Parker, Deadwood) went into the Witness Protection Program.
Ten years later, Morolto has died in prison, and the McDeeres, against the advice of the feds, have left WitSec and started their lives anew. Mitch has a law office in Washington, D.C.; his ex-con brother Ray (Callum Keith Rennie, The Killing) handles the investigations, while Ray's girlfriend Tammy (Juliette Lewis, From Dusk Till Dawn) is his secretary. Mitch has two big cases giving him grief; in the Althea Sanderson case, Mitch has a great case against a medical manufacturer, but the company has unlimited resources, and is content to bury Mitch in work. He's also working a pro bono case defending Sarah Holt, accused of murdering a 71-year-old woman in her sleep. Mitch is at the end of his rope when a major firm, Kinross & Clark, offers to buy his practice. Mitch is understandably leery of the firm and its Managing Partner Alex Clark (Tricia Helfer, Battlestar Galactica), but at the same time, Mitch realizes that the firm's resources are his only real shot at pursuing the Sanderson case, so he accepts the position.
So now Mitch is juggling smaller cases with the Sanderson and Holt cases. What Mitch doesn't know is that Kinross & Clark are somehow complicit in the Holt murder case; they hired Mitch specifically to keep his investigation under their control. The other thing that Mitch doesn't know is that Joey Morolto Jr. has taken control of his father's criminal empire -- and now he's looking for some payback.
The pilot opens with Mitch McDeere sprinting through the D.C. plaza, a couple of nefarious-looking goons hot on his trail. McDeere manages to elude them; then the scene changes and "Six Weeks Earlier" flashes on the screen as we step back to the beginning of the plot proper. That sort of temporal bouncing back and forth is a major part of the show's basic structure. It's basically a gimmick to maintain tension during the early part of the season; while it's somewhat effective, its presence suggests a lack of confidence in the plot itself. Furthermore, the structure has some deleterious side effects. In 42 minutes, you have to cover the future event, one or more major trial arcs, the case of the week, plus the continuation of the future event that serves has the cliffhanger ending. It should come as no surprise that the show's biggest weakness is superficial development -- particularly in the cases of the week, almost all of which are resolved through investigation instead of Mitch's legal acumen. I can't help but think that the structural gymnastics are done in part to distract us from the ludicrousness of the mystery at the heart of the Sarah Holt case.
Audio and video are unremarkable. Detail is acceptable, but shadows are somewhat muddy. Since this is a show that lasted but one season, extras are fairly perfunctory -- a series of brief featurettes with cast and crew.
Despite the somewhat pedestrian writing, the acting is excellent, particularly given that you have people stepping into some already filled shoes. Josh Lucas does a fine job -- his Mitch isn't quite as cocky as Tom Cruise, but there's still a strong independent streak there, as well as a strong moral center. Callum Keith Rennie make a fine "poor man's David Strathairn," doing wonders with a woefully underwritten part. Juliette Lewis doesn't fare quite as well; particularly in the first half of the season, neither she nor the writers have a clear handle on the character. The real standout, though, is Molly Parker, who invests Abby with an underlying strength that keeps her from being the wife along for the ride. Apart from a poorly conceived and more poorly executed subplot concerning her parents (the less about her mother, the better), Parker takes control of her part in a way the others don't.
Guilty. For all the flash, The Firm: Complete Series sags a bit too much for its own good.
Review content copyright © 2012 Jim Thomas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 990 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated