Justice – The Series

Fox’s Fresh Take on the Legal Drama

Year: 2006 (1 season only)
Network: Fox
Creator: Jerry Bruckheimer
Principal cast: Victor Garber, Eammon Walker, Kerr Smith, Rebecca Mader

In a world blitzing through the news of the day and a culture of celebrity, Fox seemed the perfect network to greenlight Justice. Long removed from its Cops and When Animals Attack startup days, Fox has morphed into true must-see TV. House and various sports drive the fall schedule until American Idol and 24 nuke the winter and spring competition. Even Fox’s sister news network created a genuine celebrity in Bill O’Reilly.

Hollywood mogul Jerry Bruckheimer had already produced big screen blockbusters like Top Gun, Flashdance, Beverly Hills Cop and Pirates of the Caribbean when he began testing a legal procedural that made David E. Kelley’s The Practice look as staid as Perry Mason. There’s more than just the sizzle of snazzy computer graphics and cutting-edge science — Bruckheimer has inverted Columbo‘s success formula.

In that 1970s drama, Peter Falk played a rumpled police detective who pieced together a puzzle after viewers had already seen the crime. This was the classic time procedural, in which viewers followed detectives step by step as they solved the case. Other shows revealed the mystery in parallel with the detective unraveling the clues, or resorted to the hackneyed confess-all moment at the end of a show.

Justice does none of that. The mystery remains secret and the plot focuses on what the defense can muster to counter the prosecutor’s arguments. The unique twist is that each show ends with a verdict and a depiction of the actual events, allowing the viewer to determine if the verdict or the defense team were accurate.

Get An Edgy Cast For An Edgy Show

The unique format and byzantine plot twists only carry the show so far. The same holds true for the CNN-like shows, which feature a news crawl related to the plot — a terrific touch. The adrenaline flows even faster as Justice labels each segment with an ever-escalating series of subtitles, starting with innocent-sounding titles like “Client Interview” and careening from “Mock Trial” to “Cross-Examination”.

Bringing larger-than-life gravitas to the lead role of Ron Trott is veteran Broadway actor Victor Garber, who moves over from Alias. Joining him is fellow veteran Eammon Walker, who plays a former DA turned defense attorney. Walker brings a curt dignity to the ensemble as a law-and-order family guy. Also in the cast is handsome young Kerr Smith. Smith’s good looks cause hearts to flutter like they did on Dawson’s Creek, where he was one of the actors sharing the first gay male kiss on prime time.

The Bottom Line, Rabbit Ears and All

Justice is fun to watch, and the producers and writers have been smart enough to mix up the verdicts and keep people guessing whether defendants are guilty. There are plenty of permutations, pretty high-tech gadgets and a lot of character development still available for the team to play with if Justice joins the increasingly powerful Fox prime time juggernaut.

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