With a Pilot episode directed by Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas, Cold Creek Manor) this new series centres on Elizabeth Canterbury (Julianna Margulies - ER), a tough-minded defense attorney who isn't afraid to push boundaries in order to protect innocent clients. Executive produced by Denis Leary, Jim Serpico, Walon Green and Mike Figgis and featuring Aidan Quinn (Legends of the Fall) as Canterbury's husband.
“Why are lawyers buried 30 feet underground? Because deep down they really are good people.” That crack, delivered by a character in Canterbury’s Law about his own profession, pretty accurately reflects how a lot of folks feel about attorneys. But that hasn’t stopped television producers from churning out shows about them, or viewers from watching, and this short-lived Fox series (with all six episodes on two discs) is a fine addition to the canon. Julianna Margulies stars as Elizabeth Canterbury, a defense attorney struggling to maintain her private practice in Providence, Rhode Island. Like several other female leads these days--The Closer’s Kyra Sedgwick and Saving Grace’s Holly Hunter are but two examples--she isn’t always, or even often, especially likable; though she’s clearly good at her job, Canterbury can be arrogant and humorless, with a knack for alienating everyone around her, friend or foe. She also has a penchant for bending the legal rules, starting with the very first episode (directed by Mike Figgis of Leaving Las Vegas renown), in which she commits two felonies in the process of gaining an acquittal for an accused child murderer. That stunt puts her directly in the crosshairs of Deputy District Attorney Zach Williams (Terry Kinney), her vindictive nemesis, but it’s hardly Liz’s only problem. Indeed, the unsolved abduction of their son three years earlier has put an unbearable strain on her marriage to law professor Matt Furey (an excellent Aidan Quinn), climaxing in an extraordinarily bitter (and drunken) scene in the third episode, “What Goes Around,” that’s straight out of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff. The ongoing personal element of the show, also including Canterbury’s relationships with nominal partner Russell Krauss (Ben Shenkman) and private investigator-lover Frank Angstrom (James McCaffrey), is more compelling than the actual cases, but it’s also more than enough to keep us involved in this slick, fast-moving show. The box set has no bonus material. --Sam Graham