We watch... so you don't have to.

Fall '06: "Justice"

Are lawyers really that fascinating? I know a lawyer or two, and I hardly ever ask them to recount the events of their day while I listen, enraptured. I would guess that the daily activities of lawyers, even high-priced trial lawyers, are actually less interesting than several professions who hardly ever get television shows about them.

However, we've clearly reached a point where "They're lawyers!" is all that anyone needs to sell a show. Well, it helps to throw in some adjectives, ideally something along the lines "intense", "driven", and "attractive". And maybe "as seen on Alias and Oz".

In the latest example of the form, Justice is about four intense, driven lawyers who are also attractive. Normally, I would describe the four characters, but luckily for me, Victor Garber's character, along with being the leader of the firm, is also a master of exposition, so I will just steal one of his speeches:

"Tom's first chair, the front man. The good-looking, all-American face of Not Guilty. Alden takes the physical evidence. Nobody does scientific testimony like you or scares experts more. Luther, get inside the DA's head. You know how these guys think. Figure out what he's gonna prove, and tear it up. I'll keep spinning. Biggest media case we've had in years. Be nice to win it."

So, as you can tell, Victor Garber ("Ron", or "The guy from Alias") is in charge of barking orders and pointing fingers. Kerr Smith ("Tom" or "The guy from Dawson's Creek") is the pretty-boy who's the only one who cares if the client is innocent or guilty. Rebecca Malder ("Alden" or "I think she was on a soap opera or something") is the woman, who's allegedly brilliant with scientific testimony. And Eamonn Walker ("Luther" or "The guy from Oz, by which I mean Said and not Hugh Jackman") is the one who does the actual research into the case.

Okay, that's the background. The good news is that this isn't just another cookie-cutter lawyer show. In fact, it's much more annoying to watch than these shows usually are. The camera moves a lot, and it's usually all jiggly. Sometimes it moves through walls with a whooshing sound. When there's nothing better to do, it'll zoom into walls and follow CGI wires. This is particularly true in the scenes where we watch Luther research the case and he walks around as the background changes from the scene of the crime to computer screens to other foolishness. He's also got some kind of 60-inch touchscreen monitor he uses to show information that's easily available on Google.

Another difference is that contrary to the title of the show, it's not really about "justice", so much as "winning". For most of the show, the audience has no idea whether the client is actually guilty or innocent, so we're presumably just rooting for TNT&G (the aforementioned four lawyers) because we like them. That kind of falls down when all the lawyers are such jerks, though (see above, where I called them "driven"). Anyway, the previews sometimes try to make hay out of the "Are they defending a guilty person?" angle, but since the lawyers themselves don't seem to care, it's hard to feel like it matters that much. At the end of the episode, we do get to see "how it really happened", but since that's after the verdict, it's literally anticlimactic.

So basically, it's a team of four people wandering around in front of greenscreens in between scenes where they shout at each other and their client. It's also a big fan of "ripped from the headlines" stories, to the point where a pretty entertaining game could be made where you give a prize to the first person who can identify what real-life case is being "borrowed" for each episode. But then I don't know what you'd do for the 58 minutes left in the show.

In the interest of fairness, I believe I should say some nice things about the show. So here we go: I think the theme song is Warren Zevon's "Lawyers, Guns, and Money". Of course, it's obnoxiously remixed so you can't hear Zevon's voice nearly as well as you can hear the whooshing noises, but if you concentrate, there's a good song in the background.


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