Another legal show. Just what we needed. Honestly, nearly every fall season there is some sort of show about lawyers either defending the little guy or prosecuting big baddies, and sometimes there are even several of them. This year is no exception, with The Defenders, Outlaw and now The Whole Truth. Is it worth watching? I've examined the evidence -- well, the pilot at least -- to figure out where this show stacks up in the court of TV law.
In The Show's Defense
The gimmick in The Whole Truth is that we get to see both sides of the case unfold, which is actually interesting. Instead of just seeing a lopsided presentation where lawyers try and find some way to prove that that their client is totally innocent (or vice versa), we see both the prosecution and defense going head-to-head.
Maura Tierney has a job. After having to bow out of Parenthood because of her battle with cancer, it's good to see her back in a starring role as the show's district attorney.
It's well-edited. The show jumps back and forth, giving little bits of information at a time and then showing how the mounting evidence helps and hinders the various cases. If this was done poorly, it would be hard to follow, but the editors here deserve a lot of credit for executing this in a watchable fashion.
It has as solid supporting cast: Eammon Walker (from Oz), Christine Adams (who played the bitchy dog lady on Pushing Daisies and Anthony Ruivivar (from Third Watch). These three are credible actors who really round out the cast... presuming that they have more to do in future episodes.
There's a twist. In the last minute of the show, we see information that shows if the person on trial was actually guilty or innocent, potentially going against our expectations.
The Case Against It
Rob Morrow plays kind of a tool. I enjoyed him on Numb3rs and, of course, on Northern Exposure, but there's something about his pompous and far too casual character that just doesn't make for a credible defense attorney. Wearing sneakers and such, always playing basketball, his goofy banter with judges.... it's a wonder he ever wins cases.
Crimes get solved too quickly. It always amazes me that these trials seem to happen over the course of a few days (in the pilot, the mention of an NYU event happening soon gets brought up repeatedly giving the whole trial a short window) instead of the months that it normally takes in real life. It's almost ridiculous.
There's too much personal stuff. Frankly, not every show needs to have its leads have some sort of potential romantic entanglement, and that seems to be what they are hinting at here with the shared law school past between the leads and Morrow's Jimmy asking Tierney's Kathryn out to the movies. It's completely unnecessary. I'd almost rather them hate each other. And I definitely don't need to know about Kathryn's predilection for dating younger men with music gigs.
This series is probably the best of the legal bunch this season, not being as over-the-top as The Defenders and not suffering from a preposterous premise like Outlaw, but while it has a unique presentation and is well-produced, it isn't exactly must-see TV. It is just another procedural where cases get neatly wrapped up in a bow at the end of an episode and we see these two lawyers butt heads week after week. I'll watch it because there's not a lot of worthy shows on in this timeslot (aside from the addictive Terriers) and I am a sucker for legal dramas, but if something else comes along, The Whole Truth might fall off my radar.
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