A New Era For TV Legal Dramas? Two Networks Will Find Out

By Brian Kumnick on May 20, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Where are all the lawyer shows these days?  Despite a blizzard of criminal-law-related programming on the broadcast networks, a definite shift toward shows about cops (and forensic investigators, and medical examiners, and special FBI units) has TV approaching a legal-drama dead zone.  The Practice and its spinoff Boston Legal have both left us.  A brief trend toward star-vehicle lawyer shows -- Shark with James Woods, Rob Lowe's The Lyon's Den, and Canterbury's Law with Julianna Margulies -- fizzled out.

That leaves precious little in the way of lawyer drama on the airwaves.  (We are of course ignoring the incredibly old Law & Order and its spawn, which have become repetitive and tiresome.)  But this week the broadcast networks have announced their planned schedules for fall, and two of them are going to test the legal waters once again.  CBS will give Margulies another shot at playing a criminal lawyer in The Good Wife, while ABC has the legal "dramedy" The Deep End on tap as a midseason replacement.  What are the prospects for these two newcomers?  Are they Greedy-worthy?  Let's take a look:
The Good Wife. CBS hasn't had a lot to say about this one yet, but Entertainment Weekly took a stab at describing it:

Julianna Margulies stars as a lawyer whose politician husband (Chris Noth) is convicted in a sex and corruption scandal. It looks a bit more sentimental than her previous lawyer show, Canterbury's Law, and it plays to CBS' older demo by surrounding her with a lot of snotty, twentysomething, know-it-all lawyers you just know she'll prove wrong.

Our verdict: Sex and corruption!  Twentysomething know-it-all lawyers!  Sorry, CBS, but we're not fooled.  We've seen your police procedurals, and we expect that this will be a defense-lawyer version of those: boring, predictable, and tidily wrapped up every week with an acquittal in the 59th minute.  Count us out for this one.

The Deep End. From the show's ABC page:

Sterling Law is one of L.A.'s most prestigious law firms. Each year it recruits four new young lawyers from the finest law schools worldwide. It will nurture, guide and shape these recruits into the best damned lawyers they can possibly be -- or else.

Our verdict: Is summed up by another excerpt from ABC's show description: "Greed, betrayal, illegal acts; it's all a part of being a first year associate at Sterling Law. Law school definitely didn't prepare them for this."  Oh yes, and there's also Billy Zane as the evil senior partner.  This show can't not be completely awesome.  Our only gripe: why are we forced to wait until midseason for this one?  We'll be awaiting the quick and brutal failure of something, anything, on ABC's fall schedule to make room for it ASAP.
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