Apparently, Jerry Bruckheimer believes if at first you don't succeed, try again on a different network. Enter "The Whole Truth," which sounds an awful lot like "Justice," a 2006 Fox series from the producer that, for good measure, also co-starred Eamonn Walker. Both shows feature a trial from each side, closing with the reveal as to what actually happened -- the whole truth, as it were, regarding whether justice was done. However durable the concept might be, the execution gives NBC's "Outlaw" a run for its money as the fall's most dunderheaded legal procedural.
Maura Tierney had to drop out of "Parenthood" because of illness, and wound up replacing Joely Richardson as the deputy district attorney in this one. Thank goodness she's here, since beyond Tierney the exercise plays like an over-acting clinic -- although to be fair, the cast has to race through rat-a-tat legal jargon, in part perhaps seeking to obscure just how banal the dialogue is.
Tierney's Kathryn Peale -- who confesses to her boss that she "doesn't sleep well when bad people win" -- took the bar with defense lawyer Jimmy Brogan (Rob Morrow), so they can swap knowing looks and good-ol'-days stories over beers when not trying to one-up each other in the courtroom. Each gets a chance to present their case working as part of a trio, a bit like "Law and Order."
The parallel is understandable, since the show is being supervised by "Law and Order" alum Ed Zuckerman and was created (actually, more like recycled) by Tom Donaghy, a veteran of Bruckheimer's "Without a Trace." But the fact that the last 30 seconds or so delivers a little twist revealing what actually transpired is poor compensation for sitting through what precedes it.
Mostly, the show seems determined to race through cases -- the first involving a married teacher accused of killing a female student -- at a breakneck clip. Speed doesn't kill, necessarily, but it can't save weak material either. And after viewing the second episode -- in which the defendant is a stripper and her sister a nun -- let's just say there seems to be little danger of anyone succumbing to mental exhaustion in the writers' room.
Situated opposite the latest "Law and Order" and a third new drama, CBS' "The Defenders," "Truth" would appear to have at least an equal shot in its time period, except that ABC won't promote its most marketable attribute -- namely, for those with a mildly jaundiced eye, it's probably funnier than its lead-in, "Cougar Town."
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