The Telefile

The Firm: The Made for TV Version

by Angel Cohn January 9, 2012 6:37 am
<I>The Firm</I>: The Made for TV Version

This book and movie came out so long ago that I was still in college. So you know that it is old, but while this series is set a decade later, Mitch McDeere is still finding himself in a whole heap of trouble. You'd really think he'd have learned by now. There were elements of NBC's The Firm that I enjoyed, but those happened mostly at the bookends of the pilot while the stuff in the middle just wasn't enticing enough to convince me that this will be my next new legal addiction. I've already got The Good Wife to occupy my Sundays, and if I want more shady law firm drama, I'll just wait until Suits returns.

The show begins with a lot of Josh Lucas running away from people who are seemingly trying to kill him, and then at the end of the episode, we get a little bit more information on what that might entail. The middle bits are all about Mitch McDeere's life, which on paper sounds fabulously exciting, but on TV is just told in footnotes and stilted dialogue via actors who feel the need to overemphasis everything like they are in a school play. "I've done things," says one associate of McDeere's in a completely melodramatic fashion. And like everything else about this show, nothing seems remotely new.

There is the large conspiracy that is causing McDeere to be chased, an even larger conspiracy involving the Mafia and witness protection and a boss' son who wants McDeere dead and finally there's McDeere's current caseload of clients. There's a lot going on, but all of it requires viewers to be invested in Mitch and his upstart firm and family, and so far I'm just not feeling it. He's a lawyer, with principles and feelings about defending guilty criminals. Juliette Lewis is playing up the vampy/smart aleck assistant role for all it's worth, though she gets about four minutes total screentime and most of it involves her pouting, so I'm not sure why they splurged to get Lewis' name in the credits. Molly Parker (of Deadwood fame) is McDeere's schoolteacher wife, who is so overly involved in her husband's cases that it seems like a possible breach of confidentiality. There's Mitch's brother Ray (Callum Keith Rennie), who is a P.I. and possibly the most interesting character, solely because he doesn't say much and because he could be a male Kalinda. There's Mitch's 10-year-old daughter, who is worried about friends and being relocated again more than anything. And finally there's Alex Clark (Tricia Helfer), who is no longer a badass Cylon, but instead heads up the law firm that has sought out McDeere as their latest partner acquisition.

The premiere was two hours long and felt every single minute of it. While this premise worked on the big screen forever and ever ago, stretching it to a weekly series isn't necessarily a great fit. As a movie, they could really just focus on the shadiness of the firm and is underhanded business, here the focus is spread over far too many directions. McDeere as a lawyer trying to carve out his small new firm, has potential. And the conspiracy aspect has promise as well. The college-age mob boss wanting revenge for his father is intriguing. But mixed together, it isn't a great fit. The frantic pace of McDeere on the run screeches to a halt when he heads into court, and just as those cases are getting remotely interesting, they are wrapped up and we're stuck with birthday parties and financial woes and familial drama.

I may give the show another episode or two, but I fear that if it doesn't decide quickly if it wants to be about the law, the chase or the mob -- or at least find a way to more seamlessly integrate them -- then I'll just watch something that knows exactly what it's doing instead.

Does Mitch have the worst mob radar EVER? Vloggers Sean Crespo and Carol Hartsell take a look:

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