TCA testiness: Watching The Firm cast squirm

The cast of The Firm: wishing they were still in Mississauga

PASADENA, CA–The stars and showrunner of The Firm met with critics Friday at press tour and faced a pretty stiff cross examination.
The shot-in-Toronto legal thriller stars Josh Lucas, Molly Parker, Juliette Lewis and Callum Keith Rennie and premieres Sunday night at 8 p.m. on Global and NBC. They were all at the session, but it was executive producer Luke Reiter who took most of the heat from critics.
The two hour pilot was nitpicked for several reasons. Among them:
“Why is Mitch McDeere still using his real name?” This one seemed to pull everybody’s pants down. In the John Grisham novel and the 1993 Tom Cruise film, McDeere blows the whistle on a sketchy law firm, exposing himself and his family to mob retaliation. He’s a marked man, and spends 10 years in the witness protection program.
Jump ahead to the TV show. Fed up with a life on the run, he decides to re-enter the legal profession and set up shop. But, yeah–under his real name? The mob never forgets.
This is who this guy is,” Reiter, a writer and producer on Boston Legal and Law & Order, attempted to explain. “He’s made this decision to protect his family, and when he finally feels like the coast is clear, he’s going to reclaim his name.  He’s going to reclaim his independence.” 
Added Reiter, “for me, it makes him endearing.  It makes me love him.  It makes me want to be him, and I hope people feel the same.” 
“But he has a wife and child,” continued the critic, unswayed. “Isn’t that just insane?”
Long, uncomfortable pause. As someone tweeted, you could see the actors start to think about calling their agents.
Stick with the series, these questions will be answered later, said Reiter.

Another critic wanted to know why McDeere was able to run across a reflecting pool near the Washington monument and the FBI-ish people chasing him “just stop like it’s electric water or something.”
Somebody else objected to a scene showing McDeere calling his wife  Abby from a pay phone near the Washington plaza. “I mean, do they exist anymore? …especially right along the reflecting pool?”
The payphone represents his paranoia, said Reiter, “talking his way around an anachronism,” another critic tweeted.The pile on continued. Another critic didn’t buy scenes where Mitch shares details about legal cases with his wife. “My wife’s a lawyer,” he said, “and she doesn’t tell me the names of anybody in her cases.”
It went on and on. After the session, I asked Lewis if she was surprised by all the nitpicking from the press conference. A smart cookie, she said they were smart questions and she expected no less from this room. The girl has read the Handling the Media 101 handbook.
Have to admit the objections of many of my colleagues didn’t even occur to me when I watched the pilot. Viewers can judge for themselves when The Firm premieres Sunday at 8 before switching to its regular day and time, Thursdays at 10 p.m.

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