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September 15, 2010

"NBC's outlandish 'Outlaw' richly deserves death penalty"

In part because the headline mentions the death penalty, and in part because it readily allows me (and perhaps others) to save space on my DVR, I had to link and quote this amusing review in USA Today about one of the notable new law shows premiering on network television this fall.  Here is the start of the review:

Surely NBC's joking.

There's awful, and then there's atrociously, hilariously awful — a line NBC and Jimmy Smits soar across with Outlaw.  A gambling, womanizing, conservative Supreme Court justice who chucks the court to become a crusader for the outcast and oppressed?  That's not a prime-time show, it's a Saturday Night Live sketch.

Preposterous to a painful degree, Outlaw is a vanity-show concept only an actor could love. Who wouldn't want to play a larger-than-life devil on the outside/saint on the inside who's worshiped and adored by the right-thinking and loathed and feared by evildoers?  If only Smits had noticed that his playboy card-shark jurist was a dramatic contradiction in terms: a sanctimonious sinner, an intolerably smug one to boot.

September 15, 2010 at 09:06 AM | Permalink


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It warrants mentioning that only Jimmy Smits and William Howard Taft have been appointed to the Supreme Court after leaving the Presidency.

Posted by: T.O. | Sep 15, 2010 9:47:06 AM

I understand that the show was sold to NBC by Conan O'Brien's production company -- after NBC had formalized Conan's buyout/involuntary ouster from "The Tonight Show." From the descriptions (and from the constant ads on NBC, which made the show look astonishingly awful -- and not "so bad it's actually entertaining," but rather unwatchable), one almost suspects that Conan and Company had an internal contest to see how big a turkey they could lay off on NBC (and get NBC to pay them for) on their way out. It's hard to imagine how they could have come up with anything more likely to drive viewers away in droves. If they had also made Jimmy Smits' character a vampire, that would actually have been a relative plus: some people will watch anything that has anything to do with vampires, and it would then have been clear that the show wasn't meant to be taken seriously and was either some kind of parody or performance art, with the audience in on the joke.

Posted by: guest | Sep 15, 2010 12:10:11 PM

I like the vampire angle. Supreme Court justice who is also a vampire . . . Is it okay if I pitch this with attribution? NBC will buy anything.

Posted by: Michael | Sep 15, 2010 12:18:29 PM

Michael: let's discuss division of royalties offline. We should do your lunch. My people will call your people . . . .

Posted by: guest | Sep 15, 2010 12:24:55 PM

The Dr. Gregory House version of a rebellious Supreme Court justice? How could that be anything less than excellent?

Posted by: MikeinCT | Sep 15, 2010 12:32:44 PM

I would like to see him conclude that only street justice remains as viable appellate advocacy.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 15, 2010 11:20:42 PM

I got to face it that the show's concept is a bit over-the-rainbow. But some shows don't have concepts (ie Seinfeld). Whatever problems the show has I hope will be ironed out and I know Mr. Smits is going to do a good job. Even on an average show, he's worth an hour on a Friday night, thank you much.

Posted by: nbc_outlaw_fan | Sep 16, 2010 7:48:21 AM

"It warrants mentioning that only Jimmy Smits and William Howard Taft have been appointed to the Supreme Court after leaving the Presidency."

Best laugh I've had all day.

Just too bad I had it with a mouth full of coffee.

Posted by: Guy | Sep 17, 2010 10:52:25 PM

"one almost suspects that Conan and Company had an internal contest to see how big a turkey they could lay off on NBC"

Oh, I suspect O'Brien and Smits actually are to the left of Stalin and that Outlaw really does reflect their combined stupidity.

Posted by: Thad Brady | Sep 18, 2010 4:58:08 PM

So t.v. is 0 for 3 on shows that portray the Supreme Court? Well, there's always that Boston Legal episode with William Shatner trying to flirt with Ruth Bader Ginsburg or something.

Posted by: Joe | Sep 19, 2010 11:02:03 PM

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