Last night, NBC aired the pilot of Outlaw, several nights before its Friday night time slot. It stars Jimmy Smits (Dexter, The West Wing) as a Supreme Court judge named Cyrus Garza who resigns the bench so he can fight for people getting screwed by the system. The first 20 minutes of the show showed Garza agonizing with a moral dilemma of playing by the rules, or overturning a death penalty on an innocent man. Of course Garza did the right thing, then promptly quit.
After that, the show felt very rushed, trying to get to the typical legal procedural. Garza was able to find a law firm to hire him, and put his name on the letterhead, in one scene. He maintained the staffers the audience has already been introduced to, and then recruited the defense attorney named Al (David Ramsey, Dexter).
And that’s the problem with the show. I loved the opening. I love Jimmy Smits. I think the premise is interesting, but it certainly feels like plenty of other legals shows. In fact, it’s most like the former series Shark. Garza’s team includes the smart blonde trying to prove that she has brains as well as beauty (Ellen Woglom, Californication), the stuck-up guy who won’t admit to his co-workers that he actually respects his boss, all along working to please him (Jesse Bradford, The West Wing), and the dangerous outsider who doesn’t seem to belong, but gets things done (Carly Pope, 24).
Clearly, between the star power and the unique setup, there are the makings of a good show somewhere in here. Sadly, the writers don’t want to seem to find it. I don’t know if the show will do well or not; plenty of same-thing-every-week crime and legal dramas thrive on television. But if it doesn’t get better soon, even Smits won’t be able to keep my TiVo season pass going.
Outlaw will re-run the pilot this Friday night at 10pm on NBC, which will be its regular time slot.