Tuned In

The Morning After: A Firm No

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Frank Ockenfels/NBC

One thing I can say for NBC’s legal-series take on John Grisham’s The Firm, which debuted last night, is that it gave me new appreciation for Work It. Not that The Firm is a worse show. It’s much better. But “much better” in this case is still a long way from good, and while Work It was absolutely lousy, it was at least lousy in ways that were interesting to write about. (Speaking of which, this would be a good time to point out my column in this week’s TIME contrasting Work It with the increasing number of strong feminist-male characters in primetime.)

The Firm, on the other hand, was simply an overstuffed, uninteresting mess. The two-hour pilot probably contained about one-hour’s worth of a decent, forgettable public-defender drama. But the rest, which updated the legal-conspiracy arc of the Grisham original, felt pointless and superfluous–particularly the contrivance by which the pilot had Mitch McDeere (Josh Lucas) move forward one decade and a geographic region away from the original story, only to land (while in witness protection yet under his own name) in almost exactly the same situation of being in the clutches of an evil law firm.

I’ll admit to not having been a particular fan of the movie (and never having read the source book), so it’s possible I wasn’t the audience, but this felt like an awful lot of narrative work to deliver either a legal-thriller remake or another courtroom drama. Anyone care to object?