Unt. Paul William Davies
Logline: Set in the Southern District of New York Federal Court, aka “The Mother Court,” legal drama follows brand-new lawyers working on opposite sides – for both the defense and the prosecution – as they handle the most high-profile and high-stakes cases in the country, all as their personal lives intersect.
Cast: Britne Oldford, Ben Rappaport, Anna Deavere Smith, Susannah Flood, Wesam Keesh, Hope Davis, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Rege-Jean Page
Creators: Paul William Davies (W / EP), Shonda Rhimes (EP), Betsy Beers (EP), Tom Verica (D)
Studios: ABC Studios
Set in the Southern District of New York Federal Court, this pilot follows the lives of six young lawyers embarking on their professional careers: three public defenders, and three prosecutors.
In pure Shondaland style, the pacing is breathless, with twists and intercuts taking us from one lawyer to the next as they try to outwit each other. While I was initially put off by the cocky scene description, I was eventually absorbed in the story, which follows a classic legal procedural template typified by Boston Legal.
The dialogue and pacing are crackling, and we have a few interesting characters to engage with, but I’m afraid the pilot isn’t quite able to meet its own ambition. Davies makes the understandable decision of pitting the defenders and prosecutors against each other, but keeping track of three cases at once feels a tad confusing at times. On at least a couple of occasions, I couldn’t quite connect the right case to the right lawyer.
In addition, all the lawyers are driven and ambitious, making them feel like clones of each other. While Sandra Black is given more screen time and is supposedly more skilled than the others, the pilot hasn’t quite convinced me on why this is so. Public defender Jay stood out largely because he’s a fish-out-of-water, and Leonard because he’s an asshole. But Kate, Allison, and Seth? I don’t know who these people are and what drives them.
Personally, I’m not a fan of high-strung legal dramas, and this pilot doesn’t really give us something we haven’t seen before — an issue I had with last year’s Doubt. Ambitious lawyers, cutthroat competition, conflicts of interest, and much-wow closing statements — there’s nothing here that Boston Legal, Suits, and How To Get Away With Murder haven’t already done before, and done better.
I think the “Ten Days in the Valley” page is mixing up two pilots: the logline and Paula Patton are from “Somewhere Between,” a different series. Ten Days in the Valley is about an overworked TV producer and is led by Kyra Sedgwick.