The Verdict Is In

The verdict is in for Proven Innocent: Not Guilty Entertaining.

The new legal drama (9PM Fridays on FOX) is making a concerted, painfully obvious attempt at being relevant. But from obvious plot devices to hopelessly unneeded dialogue, this show fails to deliver gripping drama or anything close to compelling television.

Trial & Error

The show is set on a law firm that specializes on getting wrongly convicted inmates out of prison, with the main character being Madeline (Rachelle Lefevre). She and her brother were accused of killing a classmate when they were in high school, and spent ten years behind bars before being exonerated. While her brother has never gotten his life back on track, she is now a lawyer helping find and free innocent inmates.

Her law partner, who helped get her out, seems good but clearly has his own agenda.

Meanwhile, Gore Bellows, the prosecutor who put her in prison, is running to be Attorney General (Kelsey Grammer), and has a reputation of playing fast and loose with evidence.

Stop me if you’ve heard any or all of this before!

Pod People

The show, at least through the early episodes, is heavy on exposition. There is a lot of talking about what happened in the past, and a lot of talking about how important the case du jour is. I get it, the vast majority of us get our knowledge of the legal system from Judge Mablean in the afternoon. But there are so many better ways to give us background and make us care about these flawed characters.

The only somewhat creative, if still patently obvious, plot device is the law firm’s podcaster, who righteously tells the audience how messed up the cases are. She brings much-needed sass and attitude to the show. But far from enough to grab us by the throat and anxiously anticipate every development.

Get Two It

Proven Innocent is simultaneously serial and episodic. So if you miss an episode or want to join the season in progress, you’re not totally out of the loop.  Each week presents a new case or two for the Madeline et al to review and prove someone’s innocence.

But there is also the long-term storyline of her crusade against Bellows and keep him from reaching high elected office. The weekly cases are easily digestible for viewers, while the long term fight of Madeline v Bellows is predictable and as shallow as creek in a drought.

Justice For None

In the end, this show will likely be less than  a footnote in TV history and nothing more than a rarely clicked page on IMDb. There’s nothing about this show that makes you want to clear an hour out of your Friday night or watch on Hulu later.

Honestly, Kim Kardashian has more of an impact on criminal justice than this show ever will. Kim’s actually freed a woman from prison AND helped pass a major piece of legislation. Who knew that it’d take Kim Kardashian to get Republicans and Democrats to agree on something?!?

The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation

Scotch. All my lawyer friends down copious amounts of it whenever a judge declares a recess!


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