The new Fall season has finally kicked off! So many new and returning shows to watch on any given day (of which I've been slowly making a dent in my DVR), that it's tough to figure out which ones are worth your time. While I love new shows and typically give them at least one episode, if not up to six, to convince me, there are some that just can't fully sell you. Well, not in the way you were hoping. While a pilot might not meet your expectations, as the first episode is never easy to get perfect, it certainly should convince you that it's at least good enough. Sometimes, for a couple weeks, that's all it takes.
The pilot for the new NBCUniversal Television series Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders, may keep you interested, but it's not as stellar as people were no doubt hoping it would be. Certainly not to the level of fellow #truecrime drama series American Crime Story, which definitely started this trend, which at some point we'll all grow tired of. It wants to be something more, but can only achieve familiar levels of good and entertaining that we've seen for over 20 years with any Law & Order series. Here's hoping that there's something truly surprising to learn, something we didn't know before, or it'll pretty much be all for not.
Yeah, they even brought over the classic gavel-like sound, which seems to have a different name depending on whom you ask. I go with that which titles this section. For starters, I was kind of surprised to hear it. I guess I just thought that this would be a series with the Law & Order brand, but not really be like the classic TV shows we've become all too familiar with. I was wrong. Mainly I was thrown as it was semi-random, definitely out of place, and helped keep the episode feeling like some series taking its time to unspool. A lot of other shows benefit from a slow burn approach, but as this is only eight weeks long, it doesn't help. The story moved too slowly, even though so much did happen within this first hour. Here's hoping all the courtroom #drama and the investigation is truly interesting, otherwise, viewers will be in for a very slow experience.
That now being said, this episode's speed shouldn't be too surprising. Again, it's part of the Law & Order franchise. They've always moved at this type of pace and been interesting. It's how, when reruns of the original series are on, I get sucked in each and every time. But somehow, maybe it's just all the time that's come and gone, it feels drastically different. This show shouldn't be trying to use the same format we all know and love. But, seeing as they are, I guess it's now on viewers to find an upside.
There isn't one. Not really. I'd say, like with The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, the upside to something like this is people can be reminded of what happened and how the country latched on throughout the whole trial, or, as is somewhat the case with me, viewers can learn about it. I'm hoping to learn more. I've read up on this before, so I'm not sure I can be too surprised by anything that happens in the series. And come to think of it, that right there is one of the show's weak points. It's not all that interesting or engaging. Since I know the over-under of it all, I need to be pulled in hard. Something has to grip me tightly. I didn't feel that. Not like I was hoping. The speed of the episode is not helping this. Everything seemed to just happen like a typical Law & Order episode, of which I'm sure back in the mid to late-'90s the show's writers did their own version of these events, but in order for me to really care, and this doesn't even include characters, I need to be hooked. I don't feel like I am. Not properly. I'm intrigued enough to see how the events are portrayed, what with things removed or invented, but that's it. If I miss an episode I doubt I'll kick myself too much because of it. This series may be entertaining, fun and good enough to keep watching week to week, assuming you have time, but it will never rise above that.
Unfortunately, other than the true story this series is depicting, the only exciting thing about watching is, and probably will continue to be, Edie Falco. She plays lawyer Leslie Abramson, and even though her abilities as a lawyer were only slightly showcased, I get the feeling there's a hell of a lot more to come. Perhaps that's just my optimism. I honestly couldn't get a good read on her, or anyone for that matter, even though the performances were good, well, good enough. Additionally, she'll probably have the most development and you'll care for her too. If it weren't for the fact that this is about this murder case, I doubt I'd watch. Falco isn't truly a strong enough reason to watch. Hell, none of the other guest starring actors are. I recognized a lot of names and faces. While many of them play larger roles in the actual events, somehow I don't think they'll serve more of a purpose in this series beyond what their real life counterparts did.
I'm certain I'll watch this entire series. It didn't start off strongly, but has enough of a hook, mostly automatic, that makes it possible to be even the tiniest bit excited for next week. Perhaps the biggest drawback, now that the episode's aired, is that it's too much like the franchise's previous entries. It sounded good on paper, but now might be too limited in scope.
Originally Aired: Sept. 26, 2017 on NBC
Creator: René Balcer
Starring: Edie Falco, Miles Gaston Villanueva and Gus Halper