Fall TV Preview
Conviction PIlot Preview ABC

Fall TV First Impression: Conviction

The broadcast networks have nearly 20 shows debuting this fall, including new sitcoms from Kevin James and Matt LeBlanc, Kiefer Sutherland as POTUS and Michael Weatherly’s NCIS follow-up. To help you prep for it all, TVLine is offering First Impressions of the not-for-review pilots.

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THE SHOW | ABC’s Conviction (Mondays at 10/9c, premiering Oct. 3)

THE COMPETITION | CBS’ Scorpion and NBC’s Timeless (new)

THE CAST | Hayley Atwell (Marvel’s Agent Carter), Eddie Cahill (CSI: NY), Shawn Ashmore (The Following), Merrin Dungey (Alias), Emily Kinney (The Walking Dead) and Manny Montana (Graceland)

THE SET-UP | “Bad girl” Hayes Morrison (Atwell) — a lawyer and former First Daughter — dodges a cocaine bust by agreeing to shepherd New York City DA Wayne Wallis’ (Cahill) new Conviction Integrity Unit, which investigates potentially erroneous incarcerations. Rounding out her team are the lawyer who thought he’d be leading the CIU (Ashmore), a former NYPD detective (Dungey), a paralegal (Kinney) and an ex-con forensics expert (Montana).

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THE FIRST IMPRESSION | I have to imagine ABC was tempted to give Conviction (instead of Notorious) the delayed-until-midseason Scandal‘s Thursday time slot, given the shows’ similar “fixer” premises and flawed heroines; perhaps Conviction‘s more procedural nature was deemed more attractive to those looking for/missing Castle?

Atwell is obviously having a ball here, playing very much against her previous TV persona, but the pilot by design pits half of her team against her, which dulls the joy a bit. Maintaining and mining Hayes’ oft-inappropriate sass (Jessica Jones‘ Liz Friedman is a co-creator/writer) will be instrumental to making this show “pop,” while the development of distinct, Gladiator-y dynamics between the other CIU members will be what gets viewers more deeply invested/gives it any legs. I also predict the splashy casting of an additional romantic foil for Atwell, given the mixed messages the pilot sends about Hayes and the DA.

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | Atwell has a big fan base, but will they forgive ABC’s axing of Agent Carter long enough to give her new, non-MCU project a look? With Scorpion getting a “head start” on premiere night (its two-hour opener begins at 9 pm, limiting any sampling of its 10 o’clock rivals), it may be a matter of whether Conviction or the genre-thriller Timeless makes the most of its beefy reality-TV lead-in.

MORE FIRST IMPRESSIONS | Fox’s Pitch, CBS’ Pure Genius, Fox’s Lethal Weapon, NBC’s This Is Us, ABC’s Designated Survivor, NBC’s Timeless, CBS’ Bull and ABC’s Notorious

Watch the trailer for ABC’s Conviction and then vote in our poll.