Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bonus - The Whole Truth: Pilot (1.1)

Maura Tierney is the definition of a great TV star. She commands the small screen with charm and power, and has been a regular on our TV sets for what seems like forever. It's also wonderful to see her healthy, kick-ass and playing a character far removed from her Abby Lockhart days. It needs to be said, however, that she is far too good for The Whole Truth. When this show inevitably goes south, I hope ABC throws even more pilot scripts at her, giving her a series that's actually worthy of her talents.

The Good Wife had an episode in its first season which took place nearly entirely in the jury room, in which the selected members all debated and over-debated the intricacies of a murder case. It was fascinating, illuminating and pretty devastating when it was combined with a lethal twist ending (the defendant chose a plea bargin, when the jury would have voted innocent anyway). I bring this up because there are interesting ways to reinvigorate the now stale legal procedural show. The Good Wife itself is a spectacular drama as it gives greater weight to its strong ensemble of characters and their personal lives. The standalone cases-of-the-week are almost always filler. Plus, they are themselves actually innovative and interesting the far majority of the time.

The Whole Truth does none of these things. Sure, it has at least attempted to put across an interesting hook (we see rival lawyers put together their respective cases, in both the defense and prosecution of a suspect), but goes nowhere with it. The case in the pilot is a cut-and-dry murder mystery. Yes, it has a fine last-minute twist, but the rest of the story is ridiculously uninspired.

Maura Tierney, unsurprisingly, is great as prosecutor Kathryn Peale. She has little character to work with (she's a tough cookie on the outside, but a -- you know the rest), but she's still great, and adds the lone spark to the show that would have been missing if original star Joely Richardson hadn't left the series after filming wrapped on the unaired pilot. Rob Morrow, on the other hand, is frankly god-awful. He plays his character as both a collection of ticks and annoyingly contrived "eccentricities", creating an overgrown frat boy in a business suit. Ugh. The rest of the ensemble, including Eamonn Walker and Christine Adams (both actors I've enjoyed in other things), is fine but once again thin in terms of actual characterization.

The Whole Truth is uninspired, flat and painfully generic. If you're that desperate for a Maura Tierney drama series, then by all means tune in. Or you could wait until next season when she'll inevitably have another shot at her own show, since this is so dead in the water. Stick to The Good Wife. You won't regret it. Rating D+

Guest stars Jack McGee (Stan Klotz); Rick Kelly (Glen Sellards); Allison Smith (Corinne Sellards); John Aylward (Judge Jeremiah Studley); J. Kenneth Campbell (Benson); Skyler Day (Brianna Sellards); Paul Greene (Kevin); Christine Healy (Judge Anna Mae Harmon); Kunal Sharma (Meer)
Writer Tom Donaghy Director Alex Graves

1 comment:

  1. Huh. I actually loved this show and thought Morrow was really likable. Would pick this any night over the Good Wife. Too each his own.