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“Justice” Isn’t Blind, But Thin

posted by doug howe

The “Law” side of “Law & Order” meets “CSI” and “Boston Legal” in Jerry Bruckheimer’s new TV series “Justice,” debuting tonight on FOX. While Bruckheimer’s countless action movies have became more intelligent over time, this show seems to be more of a reversion to the days of “Armageddon” and “Con Air” than a mimic of his recent TV successes.

Interesting and slick, fast and simple, the more accurate title would have been “Spin” or “Trial by Camera,” since that’s what it’s really about. The show doesn’t dive deep enough to land the satisfying graces and societal healings that come when true justice is achieved. Or served. So if you’re looking for inspiration for–and connection to–that spiritual part of each of us that longs for justice in the world, keep surfing. If you’re looking for some entertainment before dozing, though, “Justice” may not be all bad.

The show’s premise rests on the efforts of “Trott, Nicholson, Tuller & Graves” (TNT&G), a legal firm that serves the celebrities and wealthy elite of Southern California. In the pilot episode, the firm defends a rich guy accused of killing his wife. “Defense” takes on the kind of sophistication and meticulous detail that’s meant to (as the show’s website says) do for lawyers what “CSI” and “First Watch” have done for their fields. At least in the pilot, it was a surface scan at best.

The ensemble cast is not exactly “Crane, Poole and Schmidt” of “Boston Legal”–in either size or sizzle–but who knows, maybe more characters will be added soon. Victor Garber’s Ron Trott is a media-saavy white version of Johnnie Cochrane; Kerr Smith is young Tom Nicholson, the lead dog in court; Eamonn Walker’s Luther Graves is an African-American ex-prosecutor who is more wisdom than winsome; Rebecca Mader’s Alden Tuller is sort of on the border between “token woman” and “forensic expert.”

The dialogue here isn’t exactly “The Paper Chase,” or even “The Paper,” what with such trifles as:

  • “The D.A. is playing hardball.”
  • “This is trial by TV.”
  • “The D.A. doesn’t want to try him on the facts; they want to lynch him in the media.”
  • “If you miss anything, it costs our client everything.”

As with any TV show, its success will lie with our connection to the characters, interest in the plots, and intrigue from the premise. Unfortunately, after all of the legal representation issues, media comment, state-of-the-art forensic interpretation, jury consultants, mock juries, and legal experts, we’re left with a show that is more about the interaction between clients, law firms, and the media rather than a deep look into the real desires in each of our hearts for authentic justice.

The show does feature a nice little ending touch: a flashback to the actual crime scene. For anyone who’s ever really, really wanted to know what happened with O.J. and Nicole or any other high profile case, these last few moments are for you. Of course, you’ve gotta spend an hour for the final minute’s pay-off. Perhaps future episodes will be more worth it.



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