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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Unimpressed by Outlaw Premier

I was really looking forward to the premier of Jimmy Smits’ new show on NBC last night, Outlaw. He was terrific in NYPD Blue and West Wing, which I thought could have continued with him as president, and I may have been the only fan of the short-lived CBS show, Cane. I only saw a little bit of Dexter, so I don’t have much of an opinion on that show.

Unfortunately, I’m guessing Outlaw is going to meet the same fate as many of the shows I make a point to watch lately and get axed pretty quickly. At least this time I can say I’m not necessarily a fan yet. I was hoping for better than what I saw in the premier, which re-airs Friday at 10 PM EST in what I believe is meant to be the show’s usual timeslot.

The premise of the series just seems a little awkward, as did the pilot episode. Smits plays Supreme Court Justice Cyrus Garza, who resigns from the bench to defend, shall we say, those who need it the most. Last night it was an accused cop killer who had been spared execution and awarded a new case – with Garza tipping the decision in the defendant’s favor before he resigned.

I have to think there would have been a little more protest than his buddy asking him if he was crazy before he could have taken the case. I’m thinking maybe, just maybe, the words “conflict of interest” might have come up once or twice.

More troubling is the idea that Garza and his team are going to “parachute in” to take cases he deems important enough throughout the country each week. It just seems like each episode has the potential to be somewhat formulaic and almost idealistic. Everything happened so fast in the first episode, and more importantly had the feel of happening too fast, there was a hollowness to it. I get that Law & Order and every other court room drama wraps things up in an hour, but there’s at least a sense (or in L&O constant reminders) that time has passed.

There was also nothing special from Smits. Garza has some vices that are probably supposed to offset the idealism, and he’s dealing with his father’s disapproval of his stances as a judge. Garza survived the recent accident that killed his father, which ensures that the internal conflict will be an ongoing theme. But it was just sort of “there.” One moment for Smits was decent when Garza had to deal with a member of his staff announcing that she was in love with him. They’ll need more of that to salvage the show.

As a fan of Smits, I’m hoping the pilot episode tried to cram too much into the first hour and that the show can recover. But my guess is that a lack of real grit dooms Outlaw to a midseason cancellation.

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