Does television need another courtroom drama, another flawed hero or heroine who reinvents the law as she sees fit in the name of protecting the innocent, another eeevil villain who resorts to tossing bits of lettuce and lunchmeat when accused of being amoral? Theoretically, no. At times, Canterbury’s Law is nearly as flawed as its protagonist. A lying, conniving defense attorney, Elizabeth Canterbury suborns perjury and jury tampering, cheats on her husband — with clients no less — and then solicits them to do her illegal bidding. She’s a mean boss — prone to temper tantrums, fist slams, and condescending remarks — and a ruthless lawyer, calling overweight people to the stand, just to call them fat. She’s an alcoholic. A terrible dancer. She kicks puppies and steals lollipops fr– okay, maybe not. But her redeeming qualities seem few and far between, and Canterbury’s Law is yet another law show on a network that managed to spoil the whodunit mystery of last night’s episode in the previews. So why watch?
Easy. Julianna Margulies.
If Elizabeth Canterbury can win over a conflicted jury with as little as a well placed look, then the same could be said of Margulies, an actress who has such powerful screen presence that an audience can forget, or wants to forget, that Law is often guilty of poorly mimicking its predecessors. Imagine Julianna Margulies in the days of ER, Carol Hathaway minus the Clooney, edgier, angrier, and with possibly even more baggage. She’s got chemistry with her on-screen husband, Matthew (Aidan Quinn), and her associate Russell Cross (Ben Shenkman) delivers a compelling counterpoint to her abrasive, above-the-law attitude. Margulies has you rooting for the unlikable heroine, and not simply because she’s a mother who’s lost her son. The excessive camera close-ups actually work in her favor, and Margulies proves she has the dramatic acting chops to rival the performances of Damages’ Glenn Close and The Closer‘s Kyra Sedgwick. If you can ignore its courtroom contrivances and admire Law as a fascinating character study, it’s a worthwhile watch.
So, anyone check out the series premiere of Canterbury’s Law last night? What’d you think? Plan on tuning in next Monday?