I have a problem when a network show has a high concept but is lean on story for a weekly show or it’s an adaptation of a movie and they change the basic premises of the film it is based on. NBC’s new “The Firm” that premiered Sunday night (1/8) is actually a movie adaptation that doesn’t change anything but tries to tell the viewer it has. I found the show less than unique. Strip away the name and gimmick and “The Firm” is just another show about a high minded lawyer who pulls fantastic victories out of thin air.
The 1993 movie “The Firm” starred Tom Cruise as Mitch McDeere, an elite law school graduate who hit the jackpot when hired into a top notch law firm in Memphis Tennessee. It turns out that the firm was controlled by the Mob and the FBI forced Cruise’s character to help it get the evidence on the Mobster in charge. That put him and his wife in danger. At the end of the film the bad guys are arrested and Mitch and his wife drive off into the sunset.
The NBC show pilot is set 10 years after the events in the film and the McDeere’s have left Witness Protection after the mobster boss he helped put away dies in prison. He is now out in the open and starts a struggling storefront law practice that includes his ex-con brother Ray McDeere and Ray’s girlfriend and wacky office assistant Tammy Hemphill. Josh Lucas plays Mitch, Molly Parker plays wife Abby, Callum Keith Rennie plays Ray, and Juliette Lewis plays Tammy.
I love Josh Lucas and the rest of the cast and the producers are good. The author of the book John Grisham is a producer and Lukas Reiter is the showrunner. Other shows Reiter was involved with is “Law & Order”, “The Practice”, and “Boston Legal”. The show has the vibe of The Practice and Boston Legal. I also thought the tone was similar to “Murder One” which was a great show in the first season but petered out in the 2nd.
“The Firm” looks like it will have an over all “McDeeres-in-jeopardy” arc while having a case-of-the-week plot. I’m not sure how long the arc can sustain the show. Eventually it has to be resolved. Seeing how Mitch is “forced” to join Kinross & Clark, the new bad guy firm, and the son of the mob boss wants revenge it doesn’t seem that much different from the film – only the names have changed.
That is the problem. The film was based on the book and both had a limited time frame. Strip away the title and gimmick (shady firm and mob wanting revenge) then it will have to have good case-of-the-weeks to keep viewers interested in the whole. Like the episodes of “The Practice” and “Boston Legal” it looks like McDeere and Company will be pulling victories out thin air or wild twists that are illogical. And if James Spader joins the show I’m out…
Again I would rather they develop a show with the same plot and gimmick but use a different title and character names. Why ruin a known product?
Here’s a clip: