Monday, September 27, 2010

What's with all the lawyer shows on tv?!

I don't watch a lot of TV, but I try to check out shows about lawyers just in case they raise issues I can discuss in class. There have always been shows about lawyers, although many of them were (or are) disguised "detective" stories - more interested in the drama of figuring out "who did it" than on the legal issues that surround the case. But I don't remember so many lawyer shows running at the same time.

Right now there are four new lawyer shows on - three of them at the same time on Wednesday nights. At some point there were promos going around about a fifth one, but I suspect that one may have been dropped since I have not seen or heard anything about it since it was announced back in the summer.

In any case, the new lineup includes Outlaw, about which I have written before and which every report I have read agrees is crap, The Defenders, The Whole Truth and Law and Order LA. These last three run against each other on Wednesday nights.

Here is a quick review of the Defenders by one of the law blogs I read regularly. In a nutshell, this appears to be just another disguised "detective" show (with a comic tone to it, I guess) in which lawyers do the detecting in order to help their clients.

Last Wednesday I opted to watch The Whole Truth instead and here is my quick review: The show tries to be more serious than the others. It follows the work of a district attorney and a defendant's lawyer as they prepare for and try a criminal case. The editing is done so that you get to see the work of each side separately which is interesting, although perhaps not the best narrative model. Given time constraints, the pace of the show is a bit too fast or frantic and the defendant's lawyer (and his firm) follow a familiar Hollywood mold.

What the producers are trying to sell as "different" about this show is that the lawyers never really know "the truth." Now, this is realistic, but unfortunately, the show then feels the need to fill the void for the audience by "solving" the uncertainty at the end. In other words, the audience will know in the end what really happened, even if the characters in the show do not. That's too bad. I think the show would be better if it left everyone with that realistic uncertainty of not really knowing, but I guess I understand this would not make for a popular choice among TV producers who want a happy audience....

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