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The Firm, episode 1: wherein one man tries to do it all, like be a father and not get killed

The Firm Episode 1

If you’ve grown tired of reliving Tom Cruise’s glory days by watching a John Grisham adaptation, but the courtroom still brings you joy, it is time to sit back and bask in the wonder of NBC’s romp through the legal underworld known as The Firm (and while you’re watching, try to spot Toronto landmarks, since it was shot here, and ask yourself how many more times the characters can say “the Firm,” because they say it a lot). The show—starring Canadians Shaun Majumder and Tricia Helfer and big names like Josh Lucas, Molly Parker, Callum Keith Rennie and Juliette Lewis—follows lawyer Mitch McDeere (Lucas) as he battles the demons of his past and the villains of his present, all the while trying to juggle family life, achieve financial success and address the ethical dilemmas he faces as a public defender at an elite firm. A suggested alternative title for The Firm? I Don’t Know How He Does It. The tagline: “Be careful Mitch McDeere, because your new lawyer colleagues at the Firm are determined to hide a major crime from you, and also the mob would like you dead.” Our TV brief and our Order in the Court and Objections checklist after the jump.

This is a courtroom drama with the gumption to avoid drawn-out explanations. We know Mitch is wanted dead because both the mafia man in question and a client who throws himself over a balcony in desperation say so outright. Seriously, a man throws himself over a balcony. Who needs more than that? Usually we wouldn’t, but the whole mob-Mitch connection is poorly explained in the pilot. “He is going to pay for what he did to your father” doesn’t translate to “He brought down the prestigious Memphis law firm of Bendini, Lambert and Locke, which operated as a front for the Chicago mob.” Way to weave in a mob plot and explain it better on your official website, NBC.

Unlike The O.C.’s public defender extraordinaire, Sandy Cohen (who had a hot wife with a trust fund to finance his altruism), Mitch McDeere can’t make enough money to stay in his fancy house and beautiful suits. To make ends meet (and to circumvent another meltdown by his 10-year-old daughter, who’s tired of running and “just can’t do this anymore”), he must take a job with the Firm. Needless to say, this isn’t the legal sister to Josh Lucas’s other crowning achievement, Sweet Home Alabama, and Reese Witherspoon is not about to show up and decorate his house using their joint bank account. But even though the show is void of a sassy female protagonist, it’s action-packed and full of intrigue (murder): Mitch defends a boy who stabbed a friend in the neck, he’s likely to evade mob murder throughout the series, and he must prevent the father of a murdered teen from arranging the murder of the murderer in question (yeah, seriously).

This is going to be one hell of a season of No One Knows How He Does It: The Mitch McDeere Story The Firm.


Our observations on where The Firm got it right (Order in the Court) and where it got it wrong (Objections).

ORDER IN THE COURT Running. The guys in this show can run, and they can run well. Watch the opening scene for inspiration if you’re worried you’ll be late to catch the bus. Who needs a personal trainer when you have men in suits with gazelle-like strides?

OBJECTION The pay phone. Mitch McDeere uses a pay phone, which is surprising and anachronistic, because the only pay phones left today are for people to get out of the Matrix.

ORDER IN THE COURT Intense acting. If you’re going to star in a John Grisham thriller, you’ve got to up the ante and know the difference between smouldering and stink face. From the first dramatic head turn, Lucas took the reins of the thespian horse and said, “I’ve got this.”

OBJECTION Daughter Claire McDeere’s birthday party. Considering we watched Claire cry to her dad about having “no friends,” how was her birthday the banging social event of the 21st century? Clearly Claire has a lot of friends, which makes her a liar.

ORDER IN THE COURTJuliette Lewis. She is in this, which is magical.

OBJECTIONCasting of the mafia man’s son. Hey, producers, avoid casting someone who looks like a young Josh Lucas, because some of us may have originally thought this was a flashback scene.