CBS’s legal procedural The Defenders stepped up to the plate last night. In a television climate that’s already filled to the brim with legal dramas, The Defenders attempted to separate itself by mixing humor in with the drama. While Wednesday night is already full of hit television shows, what made it even harder for this new series to find an audience is that The Defenders was up against ABC’s new legal drama, The Whole Truth.
Saddling up as what will hopefully be our new favorite lawyers, Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell play Nick Morelli and Pete Kaczmarek, two of Las Vegas’ “best” defense attorneys. While this is Belushi’s first foray into the legal genre, this is actually O’Connell’s second legal pilot of the season.
Initially, O’Connell was cast as a defense attorney in David Tennant’s NBC pilot Rex Is Not Your Lawyer. Unfortunately, the series wasn’t picked up and O’Connell joined The Defenders. In the world of television, Jerry O’Connell hasn’t had the best track record. Every single series that he’s been apart of was quickly canceled after its premiere.
Will The Defender’s help O’Connelll break this unfortunate pattern?
While most of the new and returning legal dramas on television take a serious approach to implementing various twists to make them feel new and refreshing, The Defenders attempts to use humor as its unique element in order to stand out from the crowd. Fortunately, not only does The Defenders intent to produce a humorous drama completely deliver, but it’s easily one of my favorite new shows of the season.
Centered around two defense lawyers in Las Vegas, our “heroes” Nick Morelli (James Belushi) and Pete Kaczmarek (Jerry O’Connell) serve as a rag-tag duo who attempt to deliver justice, no matter the cost. For anyone whose watched television in the past ten years, this plot is not exactly something ground-breaking and will no doubt have viewers expecting to see the same low quality and quick cancellation that have burdened previous series that have attempted the same twist.
Thankfully, The Defenders does not rely solely on its comedic facets to deliver an entertaining series. While humor is most certainly a defining quality in this freshman drama, it’s not completely overt and subtle enough that any lover of the genre will thoroughly enough this series without feeling like they are receiving a lesser-quality television viewing experience.
As perfectly executed as the humor is, it still manages to deliver on the genre’s most important and required element – drama. The chosen story for a television pilot is important, as it has to engage the viewer enough to tune in while leaving room for the series to grow as it (hopefully) progresses.
In The Defenders, a wrongfully accused plaintiff serves as the perfect platform to let both the humor and drama portions of the series thrive. With O’Connell and Belushi playing off of each other perfectly, we get to see them go to great lengths in order to prove their client’s innocence.
Of course, as the series continues, not all of their clients can be as clean-cut and innocent. With the notion that The Defenders are a “unique” Las Vegas law firm, at some point they’ll have to deal with the darker side of the job. While nothing like this is shown in the pilot, I’m interested to see how darker subject matter is handled and whether or not the humor will still work.
The Defenders brings an entertaining and comedic twist to the typical legal drama. Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell have the perfectly chemistry, and While The Defenders might hook viewers with its humor, this series is as suspenseful as some of television’s best dramas.
The Defenders airs Wednesday’s @10pm, on CBS.
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