Previews

Preview: There Is Absolutely No Reason Whatsoever To Watch 'Outlaw'

Jimmy Smits in Outlaw

Jimmy Smits plays lapsed Supreme Court justice Cyrus Garza on NBC's dull and silly Outlaw. Jordin Althaus/NBC hide caption

itoggle caption Jordin Althaus/NBC

NBC kicks off its new fall shows with tonight's Outlaw (which will normally air Fridays), starring Jimmy Smits as — stay with me — a Supreme Court justice who quits his job to go into private practice.

"But that doesn't happen," you say.

You are correct.

Outlaw is a sort of whimsical wish-fulfillment fantasy, making Aaron Sorkin's West Wing view of heroic figures in American government look like brutal, no-holds-barred realism. After being ham-handedly threatened by a senator who has no apparent concern that he might be ratted out for threatening a Supreme Court justice, Cyrus Garza (Smits) throws in the towel to go and fight for justice, starting with halting an execution on his way out the door, despite having previously been "the most conservative justice on the Supreme Court."

There's business about his father's having been a great crusader for justice, and having been disappointed in his direction, and then he shoots baskets and hears his dead father speaking to him ... there's nothing to say except that it really isn't good.

There are other problems: For unknown reasons, the show seems to present Garza's casual, unprofessional treatment of women as sort of endearing and adorable; it comes off as sleazy. All the dialogue is pat, all the situations are implausible, and it's certain to bother people of all political stripes, because everything he says about everything is just a lot of glib speechifying.

We no longer rely on three networks. There's a decent amount of good television on; there's absolutely no reason to watch something as cliched and poorly thought out as Outlaw, even if it does star a guy as able as Jimmy Smits.

And one more piece of advice: Don't watch it with an actual attorney. There will be gnashing of teeth and many exclamations of, "WHAT?!"

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