15
Sep
2010
Outlaw: Season 1, Episode 1
Pilot
Jordan
When I first saw the preview for Outlaw, I was flabbergasted. The premise, that a Supreme Court Justice decides he wants to change the legal system in America, and thinks that its best to do so not by maintaining his position on the nation's highest court, which can shape the law and reform the legal system, but instead that he should resign and become a defense attorney, is preposterous (as, by the way, was that terrible run on sentence). I had incredibly low expectations for Outlaw, and it still managed to not just disappoint me, but to flat out offend me.

I think Jimmy Smits is a shockingly charismatic actor, who can liven up anything. In fact, with a premise like this show has, Smits was pretty much the only chance this show had to be anything better than terrible. He tries his best, but there is absolutely nothing that can redeem Outlaw, which I will already predict is the worst new show of this television season. The episode opens with RZA (a talented musician, and upcoming director who leaves a lot to be desired in this role) saying a tearful goodbye to his wife, which is supposed to make us sad. Unfortunately since we have zero context and both actors are subpar, it means pretty much nothing to us. Cut to Jimmy Smits, who has an opening line that pretty much sums up the quality of the show's writing when he says, "People say there's no justice." You see, that line of dialogue is clever, because he is a supreme court JUSTICE, and he will spend this series fighting for JUSTICE, because, you know, JUSTICE.

Let's pause for a moment to consider Smits character, the ridiculously named Cyrus Garza (I can only assume that his Irish mother met his Mexican father at an Irish bar on Cinco De Mayo). If Outlaw is to work as a show, Cyrus Garza absolutely must be a compelling character, and the show certainly thinks he is. He is set up in the cold open as a crazy conservative justice in the mold of Antonin Scalia, but then, seconds later, as a fence sitting moderate a la Anthony Kennedy. Yet, 30 seconds later, Garza remembers his father died a year ago (thanks, news!) and then he becomes a passionate liberal. The show seems to think that this makes him "unpredictable" but actually it just means that the man has no opinion whatsoever (which, I guess, makes him a pretty accurate Anthony Kennedy. Zing!). Additionally, he is supposedly both a titan of the legal field and a gambling addict $500,000 in debt (Don't even ask me how a gambling addiction and huge debt got past the Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearings, or the media), and in the pocket of a Senator who threatens to impeach him if he doesn't vote the way the Senator wants him to (which, by the way, is more illegal than anything the show is accusing Garza of).

After Garza leaves the Supreme Court, for all the stupid reasons I mentioned, he proceeds to represent the client whose execution he stayed as his last act on the court. This is so unbelievably unethical that no one in the legal community would let it stand, yet neither the judge nor opposing counsel even bothers to mention it. Also, the Judge fails to recuse himself, even though it is clear he and Garza are buddies from way back.

Even if I could look past the fact that Outlaw is essentially a legal drama written by people who have clearly never even opened a law book (or perhaps want their show to be set not in America, but in the whimsical lawless land of Flumley) or taken a high school civics class, it is still a terrible piece of television. Cyrus Garza, the show's thematic and moral center, is all over the map in a way that is not interesting so much as unrealistically inconsistent. And every other character on the show is just such a pale imitation of the characters you already expect to see on this show that I pretty much forgot who every member of the team was whenever they weren't on screen. Jesse Bradford was there, and he was smart and cocky and ambitious (and will probably bang that brunette if the show isn't canceled within the month. This will be a will-they-won't -they that even the show's three die hard fans won't give a shit about, because there is no chemistry there). That brunette was there to make racy jokes and flash her boobs, because she's just that good, damn it! The blonde girl is pretty and apparently in love with Garza (which is revealed in her second scene, with absolutely no lead up. Not even so much as a flirty glance had passed before this revelation. It was like whoever wrote the episode just thought of it while writing that scene, but the delete key on his laptop clearly wasn't working so he just said "fuck it, no one will notice.") and that's about it. And the black guy is there because RZA had an attorney before and he was dedicated. So he must be the dedicated one, right?

Near the end of the episode, black attorney asks Garza, "how does it feel to be an Outlaw?" THis sentence makes absolutely no sense in the context of the episode unless you know that the series is called Outlaw and so, presumably, Garza must be a figure who transgresses outside our legal system. This is a legal show that doesn't understand the law. This is a character-focused show with terribly written, boring, forgettable characters. This is a show that wants to be fun and banter-filled, but seemingly doesn't understand what about banter is funny or appealing to audiences. Put simply, Outlaw is so bad it should be illegal.

Grade: F

Notes:

-Some terrible dialogue from the episode:

-"Promise me you'll move on." "Marry me."

-"He's on the Supreme Court? No wonder this country is going down the crapper."

-"I promise I won't bite." "Can I get that in writing?" That is what passes for banter on Outlaw. If you wonder just how bad the show can get, tune in to find out. Me, I'll be trying to forget this show ever existed for the rest of its very likely breif run.
Tags: Outlaw
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