“Doubt” (CBS) pilot preview: Another legal drama that is NOT “The Good Wife” but…

Doubt

Written & produced by Joan Rater & Tony Philan (Grey’s Anatomy, Madam Secretary). Co-produced by Sarah Timberman & Carl Beverly (Elementary, Unforgettable, Justified). Directed by Adam Bernstein (Oz, Breaking Bad, Californication). For CBS, CBS Television Studios & Timberman-Beverly Productions. 65 pages.

Description: Sadie Barrow, a smart, successful 30-something defense attorney, shockingly falls in love with one of her very rich clients, Billy Conway, who may or may not be guilty of a brutal crime. As of now, she has been able to hide the affair from her colleagues at Klein & Associates, but she knows the truth will come out eventually and it could put her career in jeopardy…

With KaDee Strickland (Private Practice, Secrets & Lies), Teddy Sears (American Horror Story, Masters of Sex, Raising the bar), Laverne Cox (Orange is the new black), Dreama Walker (The Good Wife, Don’t Trust the B****, Compliance), Dulé Hill (Psych, The West Wing), Elliott Gould (Friends, Ray Donovan, American History X), Kobi Libii (Alpha House)…

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Sometimes, life is unfair. For Doubt, life is very unfair indeed. I read the pilot script just after watching the greatest episode of The Good Wife this year, and clearly Doubt can’t compare. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. It’s just that The Good Wife is beyond brilliant. If the show wasn’t developed for the same network, it wouldn’t be that big of a problem, but it is. And The Good Wife is not dead yet. We’ll get one more year, at least. Lucky us. I doubt Doubt can be paired with Michelle & Robert King’s drama on Sundays, or put somewhere else on the schedule. It wouldn’t fit. In fact, CBS should forget the legal drama genre for a bit, so we can mourn The Good Wife peacefully when the time will come…

Sadie Barrow is certainly cute and I love Kadee Strickland since Private Practice -and I miss her since I don’t watch Secrets & Lies– but she’s no Alicia Florrick/Julianna Margulies, though she totally deserves to be the lead of a show. Sadie is more of the Meredith Grey/women of the Shondaland kind. Doubt has been created by two ex-writers and producers of Grey’s Anatomy, and it shows. Doubt is soapy. Not a problem for me, I like it. But will CBS audience do? It’s a huge bet. And CBS is not used to bet on anything, or just once a year. And their next bet is already called Supergirl. Anyway. Doubt is your classical legal drama with two prominent cases dealt with in the pilot episode. They are not particularly original but they do the job efficiently. I quite liked what they did with a man called the “subway pusher” who, as you can imagine, killed a woman by pushing her onto the tracks of the subway. The man is sick, crazy sick, and it reflects on his attorney, Cameron Wirth, a very interesting character since it’s a transgender woman, played by Laverne Cox, revealed by Orange is the new black. She shares some part of her personal story with her client, but there are many more things to say about her and I’m already sad we’ll probably never get a chance to hear it. She teams up with a second year associate, played by the sparkling Dreama Walker. Those two excited me. I wanted more of them.

The whole love affair story didn’t excite me this much for a simple reason: the accused is clearly not a murderer! He is handsome, gentle, even touching… he’s kind of perfect and there is no twist at some point telling you: “Hey, the man you find so attractive and cool is, in fact, the real killer!”. Maybe they’re planning to reveal it a later time but it will already be too late. It is a now or never situation in my opinion. You have to show quickly what you’re TV series is made of. That’s the way it works now, like it or not. I’m not asking to pile up cliffhangers like in a Shonda Rhimes show, I’m just asking for one! And Doubt gives none. In the last scene, Sadie tells her mom -who’s in prison for something we’re not aware of- she has an affair with her client. It is also revealed Carolyn, the mom, has a love connection with Sadie’s boss, Isaiah Klein. I’m sorry but it feels a little bit too close to the Richard/Ellis storyline in Grey’s Anatomy. And it’s not pilot material. It’s just a good story for later in the season, nothing more. If ordered, the first season will deal with Bill Conway’s trial, and it’s a little thin to fill in 22 episodes… After it is closed? I fear the show becomes a fine soapy legal drama we don’t particularly need. But I’d probably watch it so…

Doubt is a decent but shy show developed by/for the wrong network. On ABC or NBC, why not! On CBS, duh? If by any chance it gets picked-up to series, I’ll support it and even pray for it. I love the cast, I like the characters and their dynamics. But let’s be realistic here: it’s not gonna happen. 

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