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What Tales Do The Critics Tell Of Fox’s CANTERBURY’S LAW??

I am – Hercules!! A legal drama about a hard-drinking, unfaithful Rhode Island defense lawyer haunted by the son who disappeared six years ago while in her care, “Canterbury’s Law” is the creation of TV-movie vet Dave Erickson (“D.C. Sniper: 23 Days of Fear,” “The Perfect Husband: The Laci Peterson Story”). It stars superhot fortysomething Juliana Margulies (“ER,” “The Sopranos,” “The Lost Room”). More than a few of the critics compare it to “House.” TV Guide says:
… Think House in stiletto heels with a law degree, and you'll start to get the picture of Fox's relentlessly edgy Canterbury's Law, a lightning-paced legal drama that roars with a feisty thunder. …
USA Today gives it three stars (out of four) and says:
… Like Dr. House, another comparison that immediately comes to mind, Elizabeth can be wildly abrasive and single-minded. ("I could love the person on the stand body and soul and still rip their throat out during cross," is one of her kinder statements.) She's also witty — a side Margulies conveys with such skill and poise, you can't help but be happy to have her back on air. But she's more attached to her clients than House is to his patients, and while she's playing to win, it's for them, not for the sake of the game alone.…
Entertainment Weekly gives it a “B-plus” and says:
… Having shown off her torrid side on The Sopranos, Julianna Margulies now gets to command the screen in something juicier than the usual procedural. …
The Los Angeles Times says:
… the show should have legs enough to keep up with the big girls. Except it's just terrible. Honestly, I don't know how else to say it. In this role, Margulies has neither the charisma to hold the screen in the many (quite unforgiving) close-ups she is given, nor the depth to make her character more than one note (angry), two at the most (angry and determined). It doesn't help that she is forced to wear super-tight suits with impossibly winged collars and say things like "eyes and ears on me, people," or "I sleep . . . the sleep of the righteous."…
The Washington Post says:
… It works, thanks largely to the hugely watchable star … "Canterbury's Law" is a "House" full of lawyers instead of doctors, since it superficially resembles Fox's blistering drama about a cantankerous physician and his team of distressed underlings -- an ensemble drama that is also a showcase for a spectacular star turn. Margulies may not be the equal of Hugh Laurie, who plays Doc House, but she's certainly in there swinging, and temperatures have a tendency to shoot up dangerously when she's let loose in court. … "just another" courtroom show "Canterbury's Law" most definitely is not.
The San Francisco Chronicle says:
… For all the effort that was put into making Canterbury complicated, not nearly enough quality control was put into the writing. Her nemesis, Deputy Attorney General Zach Williams (Terry Kinney), is too predictably evil. At one point, addressing Russell, whom he previously fired, Williams yells, "You feckless puppet! Where do you get the stones to accuse me?" It just seems contrived and stagy. Later, Canterbury tells Molly part of her legal philosophy: "I could love the person on the stand body and soul. And still rip their throat out on cross. Could you?" Again, too self-conscious. Here's what is likely to happen to "Canterbury's Law." The weak writing will chase away fans of better cable fare who come to Fox to take a peek. And Canterbury's bleak life (and her choices) will scare away mainstream viewers.
The Chicago Tribune says:
… tries to throw in some commentary about class and the slippery nature of justice, but the series is hampered by clichéd writing that results in lines such as, "I just tell the truth and see who it stings." A subplot about the source of Canterbury's deep personal pain also seems like overkill. …
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says:
… With her cool demeanor, Margulies is an ideal actress to carry off this icy role. Perhaps in the hands of a more deft writer, "Canterbury's Law" could be the edgy show it aspires to be instead of the common courtroom drama it is. …
The Boston Globe says:
… Margulies succeeds in dropping all of the fragility she conveyed so effectively on "ER." Tonight, she even takes a punch in the face from a guy on the stand. There are strong scenes that pit her against a fierce district attorney played with comic crankiness by Terry Kinney. It looks as though Kinney's DA will be a recurring character, which is a good thing. And Margulies has an appealing chemistry with Ben Shenkman, who is her softer associate and her moral conscience - the Wilson to her House. Here's the problem with "Canterbury's Law": The cases. The characters work on and fight over legal cases that are hackneyed and obvious. Tonight's business about a missing child - which, of course, resonates with Elizabeth - is "Law & Order 101." The writers drop us into the middle of the trial, and we don't know in advance who committed the crime. And yet the guilty party is bursting with guilt from the get-go. It's as if there's an arrow pointing to him with the phrase "He did it" above it. There's no suspense, and not enough legal twistiness. …
The Hollywood Reporter says:
… Julianna Margulies -- also listed as a producer -- is convincing as a lawyer whose only true solace is her work. Still, she lives under a black cloud that threatens to burst at any moment and overwhelm the show. Beneath that cloud, though, lives a cutting-edge character who blends a rough-and-tumble style outside the courtroom with a polished but assertive femininity once the trial begins. …
Variety says:
… beyond the enticement of the former "ER" thesp wearing stilettos instead of scrubs, the darkness surrounding her brilliant but troubled defense attorney has a musty odor, its pleasures largely beginning and ending with the star. OK, so it worked for "House" (and to a lesser degree, "Shark"), but the evidence still suggests it's a flimsy case for appointment viewing. …
8 p.m. Monday. Fox.

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Readers Talkback
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  • March 10, 2008, 5:39 a.m. CST

    Another law show?

    by Shan

    Because we all know we don't have enough of those ...

  • March 10, 2008, 5:50 a.m. CST

    I hope her eyebrows win an Emmy

    by tonagan

    For a supporting role, at least.

  • March 10, 2008, 6:08 a.m. CST

    I can't stand lawyer shows, but this show kicks ass.

    by The Outlander

    Even better than Rescue Me. When the guy on the stand punches Margulies in the face I nearly jumped out of my seat. This is my kind of show.

  • March 10, 2008, 6:11 a.m. CST

    because we needed another one?

    by discomatic


  • March 10, 2008, 6:55 a.m. CST

    will there be a crossover with Brotherhood?

    by newc0253

    Providence isn't a big place. Will she represent Michael Caffee?<p> p.s. mmmm, Juliana Margulies.

  • One suspects a woman "anti-hero" with the same charecteristics as House would often be dismissed as a "bitch". Time will tell.

  • March 10, 2008, 7:21 a.m. CST

    I saw the screener

    by offput

    It sucked hard. I couldn't believe a show so poorly written could make its way through the supposedly rigorous vetting process of pilots.

  • March 10, 2008, 7:30 a.m. CST

    aftra signs contract

    by bacci40

    sag has yet to start negotiations

  • March 10, 2008, 7:39 a.m. CST

    i bet she is really good in bed ...

    by JeanLuc Dickhard

    probably likes it rough

  • March 10, 2008, 7:42 a.m. CST

    I'm just waiting

    by BizarroJerry

    If this show ends up not doing well, you just know it will be blamed on people not being able to accept a "strong woman" character. And I can see the House comparisons a little, but he's never really angry. He remains likable because he even seems pleasant when insulting people. I just get teh feeling this show is gonna try too hard. But I'll still give it a shot.

  • March 10, 2008, 7:43 a.m. CST

    Hey! I just realized...

    by BizarroJerry

    No one seems to recall that she played an evil, horny, controlling lawyer on Scrubs!

  • March 10, 2008, 8:04 a.m. CST

    what the heck is this

    by Pipple

    does she get naked in it?

  • March 10, 2008, 8:41 a.m. CST


    by chrth


  • March 10, 2008, 9:22 a.m. CST

    Not Enough Lawyers, Doctors, and Reality Shows...

    by ericinwisconsin

    ... on TV these days. Instead of creating something new and different, let's regurgitate.

  • March 10, 2008, 9:40 a.m. CST

    Everybody sing: "Single Female Lawyer, gettin' lots of sex..."

    by SpyGuy

    Bender FTW...

  • March 10, 2008, 10:21 a.m. CST

    Is the new formula going to be "House in ____"?

    by themikejonas

    I thought we already had "House in the Courtroom" with "Shark." Dislikable but brilliant and effective mentor and his/her motley crew of assistants. Apply liberally to any other concept and it'd be awesome: "House in the School Cafeteria." "House in New York having coffee with good-looking twentysomethings." "House in Real Estate."

  • March 10, 2008, 10:23 a.m. CST

    Oh, it's a "House." I thought it might be "Allie McBeal" again.

    by kabong

    Strong woman? Oh, they mean noisy bitch.

  • March 10, 2008, 11:04 a.m. CST

    When will it end

    by methosb

    How many doctor, lawyer, politician and cop shows must we be subjected to before we get to see something original and interesting.

  • March 10, 2008, 12:10 p.m. CST

    Unless this has been seriously reworked from the screener...

    by Alonzo Mosely

    I am amazed at the positive reviews, I thought the dialogue was painfully badly written and couldn't get through more than about 10 minutes... But hey, what the fuck do I know...

  • March 10, 2008, 12:33 p.m. CST

    Don't Forget, themikejonas...

    by ericinwisconsin

    "House In Da Hood" and "The Bride of House Meets Frankenstein". Not to mention "The House of House".

  • March 10, 2008, 1:53 p.m. CST

    Yeah, the screener....

    by Aloy

    I think she's great as a character but the writing has to get better. The whole final courtroom scene was so contrived (even by tv standards)that I had real trouble thinking for a second that she wouldn't get objected and overruled all the way out of the courtroom.<br> What's up with those intense, quiet voiced discussions with the witness that no one else in the courtroom could possibly hear and no comments from the other lawyers or the judge?

  • March 10, 2008, 3:51 p.m. CST

    Watch New Amsterdam

    by jim

    It's on right after. Not a perfect show but well worth your time.

  • March 10, 2008, 5:44 p.m. CST

    How was the premiere of New Amsterdam?

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    I'm watching the new episode tonight because I love time travel shows. In this case he has continually travelled through time a la Highlander.

  • March 10, 2008, 5:54 p.m. CST

    More TV sludge

    by christian66

    Ooo, how edgy! She's abrasive and angry! Wow. Sure to make people who are ignorant of real drama happy. Ooo, she's sexy and savage! She's...

  • March 11, 2008, 3:51 a.m. CST


    by Shermdawg

    ...and when Reaper's cancelled, Ray Wise can then move over to either of the previously mentioned shows.

  • March 11, 2008, 4:07 a.m. CST

    I liked Matlock

    by Napoleon Park

    when I was full of vicodin. I loved Ally McBeal, especially the Christmas episode tear-jerkers. I liked the Practice a lot and love Boston Legal. I enjoyed the high concept of "what if Stephen Bochco created a David E. Kelley lawyer show" that was Philly. I watched a few episodes of both Justice and Injustice. I think Eli Stone is actually pretty cool - especially the recent game changer episode that really shook up the shows formula. As a child I watched perry mason with my mom and as a teenager I enjoyed Judd for the Defense. I never watched LA Law, though, and I'm sure there were a few other lawyer shows I passed on. but I liked Shark once they stopped skimping on the Jeri Ryan.<p>All of those lawyer shows have two things in common - and the other thing is that they're ALL better than "Canterbury's Law". It's already been said here, but it bears repeating - they're promioting this show as "House" with lawyers - which is EXACTLY what "Shark" is.

  • March 11, 2008, 4:10 a.m. CST

    I'd like to have a three-way

    by Napoleon Park

    with Juliana Margulies and Claudia Christian. They're both very handsome mature women and, to paraphrase George Carlin, if you can't make it with a ten why not two fives instead?

  • March 11, 2008, 4:14 a.m. CST

    I actually watched the episode

    by Napoleon Park

    with a sincere intention to give it a chance with the hope that it would be good and I'd like it. I watched the whole thing. either it was very smart and went over my head or it was just badly written - though those two things don't have to be mutually exclusive - because I just didn't get it and, sadly, the first paragraph of hercules' review gave me a better understanding of the shows premise than actually watching the episode did.<p>That can't be good, can it?

  • March 11, 2008, 4:26 a.m. CST

    I was watching a rerun of Saving Grace

    by Napoleon Park

    last week. Now I'm a huge fan of Laura San Giacomo. I have a great deal of respect for the fact that she's sacrificed her film career to stay home and raise a mentally challenged son. I respect her choice to not take sexpot roles or do nude scenes. And I in no way mean to invoke an ethnic stereotype about women of her nationality. But I do question her decision to just say the hell with it and grow a moustache. To quote something Tina Fey said in a different context, "she knows we can see her, right?"<p>Juliana Margulies or her cosmetician should seriously consider spending less time sharpening her eyebrows and a bit more an lightening that faint moustache shadow on her upper lip. <p>Seriously, I'm an old dirty hippy and I have no problem with women with wild underbrush, armpit brillo, leg stubble or heavy forearm hair. But I really don't think this women with mustaches fad is going to catch on.

  • March 11, 2008, 4:29 a.m. CST

    I'm into BDSM

    by Napoleon Park

    and I thought she was actually sexier after the guy smacked her in the face and bruised her lips. I'm sorry, I know that's unhealthy, sad, anti-social and misogynistic. But it's true.

  • March 11, 2008, 8:13 a.m. CST

    Saw New Amsterdam last night

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    I like it. Cantebury was good, but like the critics have said this is House where he is a she, and she is a lawyer instead of a doctor.

  • March 11, 2008, 7:14 p.m. CST

    New Amsterdam is good.

    by offput

    And despite its concept having been done umpteen times this show manages to make it a little bit fresh. It also annoyingly contains little ideas that I had in mind for a story I've been mulling over for a couple years.

  • March 11, 2008, 7:28 p.m. CST


    by offput

    <p>I've just watched the broadcast version of "Canterbury's Law" to see if it drastically improved since the screener I saw. It hadn't.</p> <p>Not only is the writing baaaaad.... but the show tries too hard to make the main character likeable. And fails. I mean she's defending a mentally disturbed boy, whose initial confession was coerced by the police. Not only that but the guy who really did it is a violent overbearing control-freak father. And everybody in the damned universe is out to get her and doesn't care about things like "evidence." And yet she remains an annoying bitch.</p> <p>She makes unfunny comments during the court proceedings, and the just laughs. Why? BECAUSE YOU MUST LOVE HER. The show doesn't earn the audience's respect, or show us why we should like Canterbury; it relies on the assumption that because she wins in the end, we'll like her for it. And that, my friends, makes an ass out of them, and wastes my time.</p>

  • March 11, 2008, 7:55 p.m. CST

    Like House except for the badness

    by aversiontherapy2

    This and New Amsterdam are both pretty disappointing new series.

  • March 12, 2008, 12:47 p.m. CST

    I like New Amsterdam

    by jim

    I didn't expect much seeing as how it got shelved for 6 months, and I had suspected we never would have seen it if not for the strike. But it has been pleasant surprise. <p>The police stories are typical TV. The last one with the dead doctor seemed right out of Law & Order. I haven't really warmed up to his partner. But I really enjoy the show when it focuses on Amsterdam and his life, past or present. You get some good twists. No "Holy Shit!" moments (yet), but a few things that when revealed make the show more interesting. I especially like the little bit of information at the end of the last episode. That possibility had not occured to me. Probably didn't occur to Amsterdam either. That makes things a bit more of a challenge for him.

  • March 13, 2008, 4:16 a.m. CST

    I like Hugh Laurie

    by Napoleon Park

    but the mental image of House In Stilletos sorta skeeves me out.

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