When I first saw the previews for this show, I thought I was going to hate it. Jerry O’Connell and Jim Belushi, both actors whom I really enjoy, came across as smug, arrogant, and trying too hard to be funny and over the top. I wasn’t even going to DVR this show. But as you know, I have 3 DVRs so what’s the big deal. Tape the show, watch it, and if you hate it, delete it and never watch it again. I am so glad I did because this was my biggest pleasant surprise.
There are so many intense shows on TV that I love to watch (Criminal Minds, Supernatural, CSI, The Good Wife, Nakita) that I like when a “serious” topic I enjoy is taken and it is given levity and humor (Chuck, Castle, Bones, The Mentalist.) And The Defenders falls into the latter category. It’s a simple premise, 2 guys, Nick and Pete, start a law firm in Vegas and defend all kinds of different clients. They have a young rookie, Lisa, brought on board and thrown into the fire on her first day. There is a nice moment between Lisa and Pete where he explains to her why he “threw her to the wolves on her first day.” Because that is what Nick did to him to test him to see if he really cared about the clients that much. She passed the test so he tells her she is going to be a great lawyer. There is good camaraderie between Nick and Pete and they work together to free a kid wrongfully accused of murder.
A quick recap of the case: 2 brothers were assaulted by 4 other boys and one of the brothers is arrested for murder. The defendant insists it was an accident and doesn’t want to take a plea bargain so they decide to go to trial. The judge is oddly perturbed about this so he sticks it to Nick and Pete anytime he can. Pete and Nick want involuntary manslaughter included as part of the judge’s instruction to the jury and he refuses. So the choices are Murder 1, Murder 2, or Voluntary Manslaughter. So it goes to the jury and they have a question, “what if they think something wrong happened but there was no intent to harm” basically they think it was an accident. Ding, ding….can someone say involuntary manslaughter? Nick and Pete take this to their client and explain that if they take this to the judge and ask him to add the IM instruction, he would only have to serve one more year. If they don’t ask for the instruction to be added, he could be acquitted or they could convict on VM and he could face up to 40 yrs. The client says no, get me out. When Nick and Pete meet with the ADA in the judges chambers, Nick decides to pull a Bobby Donnell and play off the judge’s ego and dislike of him and “force” him to not add the instruction, which is exactly what happens. In the end, with the IM not added to the instructions, the jury decides to acquit and the kid goes free. Shocker, I know.
On a side note, you would HOPE that what happened in this episode doesn’t happen in real life. A judge decides to put his hatred of an attorney ahead of what is in the best interest of the accused? Seriously? I’m sure it happens but again I would hope it is EXTREMELY rare. I was also thrilled to see Natalie Zea back on TV. She is awesome so I hope she is on the show for the long haul.
I will be watching The Defenders again. And if this show starts to get a following and continue to grow an already decent audience, The Whole Truth really will be gone by Halloween.