If you’ve been feeling that there just aren’t enough lawyer shows on television, then NBC has a mid-season legal thriller for you. And – bonus – you’ve heard the name before.
The Firm is a weekly series based on the John Grisham-penned, Tom Cruise-helmed legal thriller of the 1990s. Clearly, NBC is banking a lot on the show’s name recognition. They’ve already put in a surprising 22-episode order.
But the truly surprising thing is that the show isn’t half bad.
Josh Lucas takes on the role of Mitch McDeere, the idealistic defense attorney first portrayed by Tom Cruise back in 1993. That film ended with Mitch taking down the mob’s legal firm on a billing technicality. The NBC series picks up ten years later with Mitch, his wife Abby (Molly Parker) and their 10 year-old daughter ditching witness protection for Washington D.C. where Mitch sets up a private practice with his felon brother Ray (Callum Keith Rennie) and his chain-smoking secretary Tammy (Juliette Lewis).
Mitch’s wife returns to teaching and Mitch’s daughter hopes to finally stop running and enjoy her adolescence. Apparently, Mitch feels perfectly safe returning to his old life because the mob boss he took down 10 years ago has died. Little does Mitch know that the boss has a son. The mob never forgets, Mitch.
The pilot opens with Mitch running for his life from suit-wearing baddies, just like in the big screen version. Mitch finds the last phone booth in America to call his wife and say, “It’s happening again!” Boy, it sure is. By the end of the first episode, Mitch has reluctantly teamed up with another huge, impressive firm, unaware that this firm has shady ulterior motives against him. How unlucky can one lawyer get?
So far, the episodes consist of the twists and turns of a typical legal case bookended by flash-forwards to Mitch running for his life. This is the show’s way of slowly moving toward the present day and illustrating how Mitch got mixed up in yet another dangerous situation. It’s an intriguing hook, and so far it has successfully grabbed my attention. I worry, though, that this structure will wear thin if employed too long.
The present-day legal cases run the risk of feeling like distractions from the real action with Mitch in trouble. But it helps that Josh Lucas is a great presence on screen, and he’s surrounded by some impressive actors. Everything about the series feels tight and well-executed.
If you’re a fan of legal thrillers, then The Firm is worth a look. The first two episodes have pulled me in, but I’ll have to see if they can keep me. If NBC has the kind of faith in this show to bank on 22 episodes up front, I’m willing to give it another few episodes to see how things shake out.