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The Defenders: Catch It On CBS (While You Still Can)


Here at Most Strongly Supported, we try our best to post a new law school / legal related post every day to satisfy your rapacious Pre-Law minds. We want to keep you posted on relevant topics, such as the controversial U.S. News and World Report Law School rankings, who you’re going to meet in law school, and infallible (if not random) LSAT predictions. If you are familiar with Blueprint Prep you also know that we get excited when pop culture and the legal world collide (however soft that collision may be). This was clearly evident several months ago in Blueprint founder Trent Teti’s sardonic 2-part review of ABC’s short-lived legal dramedy, The Deep End.

So with a new season of television goodness kicking off this week, I decided to share my thoughts on the major networks’ latest attempt to add yet another legal TV show to an already fairly saturated market. This time, it is CBS’s The Defenders, which premiered on Wednesday evening. Before I quickly share my impressions of this pilot, there are a couple interesting things to note:

#1) CBS originally had plans for The Defenders to be a reality series, as they hired two well-known HBO documentarians to follow around a couple of REAL Las Vegas defense attorneys as they defended clients in the REAL legal system. One of the cases even involved a two-timin’ girlfriend accused of murdering casino legend Teddy Binion. This sounds pretty interesting, and maybe even relevant to aspiring defense attorneys. Ultimately, CBS scrapped the idea, slapped a Vegas landscape over a green screen at some studio in Los Angeles, and called it a day. Fair enough. The lesson here: oftentimes the minutia of real legal proceedings isn’t as interesting as a quick 40 minute case which involves Jerry O’Connell humping a flight attendant after a couple rounds of Blackjack. Not sure what you should do with that lesson…

#2) Speaking of O’Connell, it might interest the pre-law community to know that this guy actually gave law school a shot. No…like real law school, not some romantic comedy titled Law School. You see, despite the fact that Mr. O’Connell had been consistently working in Hollywood since he was the fat kid in Stand By Me, AND despite the fact that he returns to a gigantic hillside home to be greeted by Rebecca Romijn each night, the guy actually took the LSAT, and attended Southwestern Law School last year. Granted, he dropped out after 1L, but you have to respect the effort. The lesson here: it is a much better life to shoot a network television show and go home to your supermodel wife than go through the grind of law school. Keep in mind that you weren’t the fat kid in Stand By Me and you don’t have an agent, so keep studying.

So now for the actual review of The Defenders. Unlike Teti’s review of The Deep End, I wasn’t horrified to find that a network television show didn’t accurately reflect the nuances of defense law or the aesthetics of a modern courthouse, I was just looking to be a little bit entertained and maybe get some quick laughs in (as the previews and billboard marketing for The Defenders were actually somewhat promising). Turns out, the show kind of stinks, at least from what I could gather from the Pilot.

Jerry O’Connell and Jim Belushi are supposed to be charismatic, witty, unconventional defense attorneys who presumably will be defending some interesting clients in the City of Sin. They’ve got tough-guy, sleazy billboards (which are actually kind of amusing) that advertise their legal services. First up is a murder case involving a young man who accidentally shot and killed an up-to-no-good football bully who was attacking his brother with the rest of his young gang of hooligans. Long story short, there is no chemistry between O’Connell and Belushi, and all of the other characters were way overdone and cliche. They had to overcome a weaselly judge who is completely unreasonable. We are also told that one of their young, female, first year associates stripped her way through law school in Vegas. It’s all kind of a joke.

I’d try and catch The Defenders sometime in the next couple of months before CBS replaces it with CSI: El Paso. Call me a 24-year old purist, but I’m sticking with re-runs of Law and Order for my courtroom-procedural jollies.