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Friday, February 17, 2017

PILOT REVIEW: Doubt

DOUBT












Starring: Katherine Heigl, Dule Hill, Laverne Cox, Dreama Walker, Kobi Libii, with Steven Pasquale, and Elliott Gould

Created by Joan Rater and Tony Phelan
Written by Joan Rater & Tony Phelan, Directed by Adam Bernstein

Doubt is a new legal drama with a great cast but a pretty standard story. Sadie Ellis (Katherine Heigl) is top attorney who has fallen for one of her clients, Billy Brennan (Steven Pasquale). Her firm includes TV veterans Dule Hill, Laverne Cox, Dreama Walker, and Elliott Gould.

The strongest element to this show is definitely the cast. I am not always a Katherine Heigl fan but she has found a much better vehicle for herself here than State of Affairs, where she was horribly miscast. This is a better role but also she's more of an ensemble which also works better. The rest of the cast is notable too. Elliott Gould is a standout early on and the show got a lot of attention due to the casting of Laverne Cox. The show makes a passing reference to transgender issues but otherwise seems to purposely make it no big deal. Additionally, I have liked Dule Hill since The West Wing and Dreama Walker was the only thing I liked about Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23. On top of that, we had Donna Murphy and Judith Light in guest roles.

The story and the script isn't bad but it's also nothing special. However, a strong cast can elevate average material and that seems quite likely to happen with Doubt. The biggest problem is I'm not totally invested in what appears to be a season-long case, the one involving Steven Pasquale. I also rolled my eyes a bit at the fact that Heigl and Pasquale's characters have fallen in love. I was actually more intrigued by the case of the week than the ongoing case.

I did like that this is a legal drama that doesn't seem to take itself too seriously. There was some funny dialogue between Heigl and Hill, between Cox and Walker, and from Gould in general. It's too bad (but not surprising) that this show bombed in the ratings because it's a more ambitious CBS show in some ways. Yes, it's a standard legal drama but it feels a little less procedural-y than the average CBS drama and if CBS is going to catch flak for having white men front all of their fall shows, they also deserve some credit for the casting of Laverne Cox. All in all, I liked Doubt but I'm certainly not getting attached after seeing the ratings.

WILL I WATCH IT AGAIN?
Yes, I may be one of the few who will watch it for as long as CBS will keep it on the air (which probably won't be long).

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