July 28, 2005 -- "The Law Firm" Tonight at 9 on NBC/Ch. 4
SOMEBODY call a lawyer— quick! "The Apprentice," has been stolen and the perps are moving in — tonight.
Legal eagle mogul David E. Kelley's new reality show, "The Law Firm," which is moving into "The Apprentice" timeslot on NBC, comes across as such a line-for-line copy of the Donald's show that viewers may be hoodwinked into thinking they're watching reruns. It's the same kind of music, the same swooping overhead city views (even if it is L.A.).
Yes, Kelley, the man who won Emmys for such tightly and beautifully scripted law firm dramas (and dramedies) as "The Practice," "Ally McBeal," and "L.A. Law," is dipping his beak into the world of unscripted TV with a run-of-the-mill, sometimes annoying, always familiar reality/competition series with high-profile attorney Roy Black in the role of The Donald.
The premise is that 12 real-life, youngish, and good-looking lawyers compete with one another for a $250,000 prize. The winner is the last lawyer standing. Each week one gets, yes, fired.
In place of "Trump Tower," the setting is "the law firm," a cavernous, empty law office with only these 12 mostly annoying lawyers and one receptionist who answers the phone, "Hello, the law firm!"
It's so bizarre. At least in "The Apprentice" it's The Donald's real company with his real employees who actually add to the atmosphere.
On tonight's mess-of-a-premiere, the lawyers are divided into two teams and simultaneously work on two ridiculous cases. One is the case of a three-legged dog that got attacked by a neighbor's dogs, and the other is a case of a woman who was pulled over for speeding by the county coroner. It's almost impossible to figure out what-the-hell is going on.
For starters, why isn't the municipality involved in the case of the coroner? Not until the judge's ruling did we even figure out that she was suing him for punitive damages.
Not one lawyer presented how exactly she was damaged other than being an noyed. And isn't this a criminal complaint?
The show's fireworks come when the lawyers argue the cases and argue with each other. Tragically, I watched the show with the Love Interest to get his insights since he just happens to be a member of the world's most hated profession — and all we did was argue.
"Judge Judy has more credibility, and it's faster. Get me outta here!" he yelled.
Daunted, but not broken, I watched the other episode by myself, and I will admit that it was considerably more interesting than the first, although there still isn't a single cast member to care about.
And Roy Black? While his insights are very interesting, to paraphrase a fashion adage, Black is not the new Trump.