Winter TV First Impression: NBC's The Firm

The broadcast and major cable networks have nearly two dozen brand-new shows (hopefully) heating up primetime this winter. To help you sort through it all, TVLine, as we did in the fall, is presenting a few First Impressions. Next on our list is.…

THE SHOW | NBC’s The Firm (two-hour pilot airs Sunday, Jan. 8 at 9/8c; time slot premiere is Thursday, Jan. 12 at 10/9)

THE COMPETITION | On Thursdays, it will face CBS’ The Mentalist, ABC’s Private Practice, FX’s Archer (returning Jan. 19) and, I suppose, that MTV show about buffoons from Jersey.

THE CAST | Josh Lucas (The Lincoln Lawyer), Molly Parker (Deadwood), Juliette Lewis (Cape Fear), Callum Keith Rennie (The Killing) and others

Hot for Winter: TVLine Presents Your January Premieres Calendar

THE SET-UP | Picking up 10 years after the events of the John Grisham novel (and Tom Cruise film), The Firm finds Mitch McDeere anxious to get himself, wife Abby (played by Parker) and their 10-year-old daughter out of the Federal Witness Protection Program now that the Morolto family crime boss whom he put behind bars is dead. Against the feds’ wishes, Mitch starts up a storefront practice with his brother/P.I. Ray (Rennie) and assistant Tammy (Lewis). Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) recurs as the boss of an elite law firm that schemes to add Mitch as a partner.

More Winter TV First Impressions: Showtime’s House of Lies, NBC’s Smash, Fox’s Alcatraz

THE PROS | If you (as I did) glommed onto The Firm back in the day, it’s ostensibly fun to “catch back up” with familiar characters. Lucas is fine as Mitch, though he’s a somewhat random choice to “replace” Tom Cruise. (That said, he brings to the material more gravitas than his predecessor. And my female peers seem to like his very blue eyes.) Rennie steals scenes as Ray, to the point you’ll be lobbying for him to headline his own primetime show someday. For fans of the book, Lewis is more perfect a Tammy than Holly Hunter was. I’m kind of hot-and-cold when it comes to Parker, but here I loved her as Abby.

THE CONS | My goodness, this show asks a lot of the viewer — where to start? For one, the two-hour pilot expects you to track no fewer than three legal cases, leaving you to wonder which one will prove essential to the show’s mythology. (Spoiler: It’s not the one you think!) And the prolonged stretch of time afforded to one case (a young boy accused of stabbing to death a classmate), while obviously there to inform us of Mitch’s value system, is the stuff of textbook law drama; you could be watching literally any legal show. Plot holes are aplenty, including the fact that Mitch keeps his infamous name after coming out of hiding. When an understandably reluctant Mitch is wooed to join Helfer’s tony firm, the hokey compromise they arrive at screams of being a plot device. The McDeere daughter is the latest in a line of TV kids who whine about the show’s central conceit; why can’t everyone be chill like Violet Harmon?

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | I wanted to be but emerged as not a fan of this TV adaptation, but may give it another episode (perhaps two) to find its footing and further delve into the dark secret Helfer’s firm is hiding. Time slot-wise, The Mentalist will obviously beat up on Mitch good; the only question is how this NBC newbie’s numbers compare to predecessor Prime Suspect.

Watch a video preview for The Firm, then vote in our poll below.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Lillian says:

    I’ll be checking this out strictly for Callum Keith Rennie, who I think is a truly fantastic actor. I discovered him in Due South and then watched other projects he’s been in. To think that as he was filming Hard Core Logo he flew back to wherever (forget) to film My Life as a Dog; two totally different characters. The man is truly talented! Don’t like Cruise, so don’t know the original film or the characters. I suppose that may play in my favor?

    • CJ says:

      I’m watching it for CKR too–though it should be said that he’s headlined a couple of his own shows, just in Canada. It’s always amazed me that he’s not better known in the States, despite so many riveting performances.

  2. Kate says:

    I dont know how they will make this into a tv show from the promo, if anything maybe mini series, but how will they keep it constantly up!?

  3. Shins says:

    Haven’t seen the movie but I’ll be watching it for my two favorite Cylons.

  4. What?!? says:

    THIS!!! I love 6!!!

  5. Stephanie says:

    “I suppose, that MTV show about buffoons from Jersey.” LOOL you are too funny. But it is true, that show is just terrible.

  6. Bookerguy says:

    Have read the 1991 book at least 10 times, seen the 1993 movie so I’ll definitely check out this series. If you haven’t read the book – READ IT!!!!

  7. ~T~ says:

    Watching solely for the Canadian members of the cast!

  8. Matt says:

    I’m surprised NBC didn’t have USA Network running the movie all day today. I can imagine every commercial break promo now. “If you like this, watch the TV version premiering tonight on NBC.”

    But what do I know. I guess a marathon of six year old NCIS episodes is just as good.

  9. Sandra says:

    Maybe, I’d catch a glimpse of it if it were a Wednesday show, but I’ve found law dramas to be tedious at best. NBC dramas have been seriously lacking, but maybe the actors can carry it.

    Sorry, but The Mentalist will win out this time slot on my television.

  10. carole says:

    I’ll be watching Patrick Jane on the Mentalist.

  11. fernando says:

    Im not dropping Private Practice for the firm and hearing your bottom line, i’ll just pass on it.

  12. Marc says:

    Why does NBC make some many crazy choices w/ the schedule? I know Prime Suspect didn’t hit it out of the park w/ ratings, however, it was a really good show. Plus, Maria Bello & the cast were really starting to gel. I hope they give it another shot! Drop The Firm ASAP!

  13. Crystal says:

    Why does NBC mess up a show with so much promise by putting it on a Thursday at 10?!$&@. Why not Monday or Wednesday? Or as a lead in for SVU on Tuesday. The biggest loser doesn’t always need to be two hours. What a waste of Josh Lucas and a good cast………..

  14. Kay says:

    I’d watch Josh Lucas in anything. I’ll definitely be watching.

  15. steph says:

    Callum Keith Rennie already did headline his own show — a semi serialized cop drama called Shattered, which aired on Global awhile ago.

  16. Margot says:

    Loved the book. Liked the movie. The show has a phenomenal cast but I found it boring. Can’t believe they dropped Prime Suspect. It was getting better every week… They needed a different time slot.

  17. don says:

    I’m a big fan of Grisham books and TV movies. This sequel to The Firm is a big disappointment. I won’t be watching the rest of the series. What’s the deal with the filming and color? It was terrible. Too much going on all the same time. Needs a single plot, not so many stories going on simultaneously. The new Prime Suspect was terrific! Better than the original! And they pulled it already? Who makes these decisions for the viewers?

  18. Kathy says:

    I have no interest in watching this show for two reasons: 1) it’s a hard time-slot to win opposite The Mentalist and 2) it’s replacing Prime Suspect, which was a great show and couldn’t win the time slot either. I love John Grisham and Josh Lucas, but I just can’t buy into this one at this point and time.

  19. Lulu says:

    I don’t watch many shows on NBC. Parenthood, Harry’s Law and once in a while, Prime Suspect. I do, however, love Josh Lucas, so I’ll have
    to at least check it out. The time-slot is ridiculous… there are
    so many times available…why would you pit it against Private Practice
    and the Mentalist? I use my DVR for those, which means I’ll have to use my VCR for The Firm. You guys sure don’t make it easy.