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TV Review: Canterbury's Law

(1-10 stars) Canterbury’s Law Starring:: Julianna Margulies, Linus Roache, Ben Shenkman, Keith Robinson, Trieste Dunn, Aiden Quinn

Created By:: Dave Erickson, Denis Leary, Jim Serpico, Julianna Margulies

Airs: Monday at 8 p.m. ET on Fox

I’m already bored with this show. Don’t we have enough hard-edged people with issues on TV? Don’t Denis Leary, Hugh Laurie, Holly Hunter, Keifer Sutherland and Angie Harmon pretty much have that covered? Apparently, Fox doesn’t think so, because they just added another mad-at-the-world character to their lineup.

Julianna Margulies plays Elizabeth Canterbury, a tough defense attorney who in tonight's episode defends a guy accused of killing a child. Only she’s pretty sure he didn’t do it, so she puts everything on the line to prove it – including her relationships with her co-workers, played by Ben Shenkman, Trieste Dunn, and Keith Robinson.

Her husband, played by Aiden Quinn, is the most understanding guy on the planet – especially given the fact that there’s tension between the two involving the disappearance of their young son. There’s no justice in their home, so maybe Elizabeth tries extra-hard to make sure it happens at the office.

I like the “look” of the show. It looks HBO-ish. It’s dark, both in feel and color. Things aren’t perfect. People aren’t perfect. And the main character is definitely not perfect. She knocks back vodka like an old Russian, sleeps around like a Tudor king, and views the world with all the gloom of a Bronte character. And you get the feeling she could easily venture out of the cave, club a dinosaur over the head, and drag it home for supper.

After playing memorable characters on E.R. and The Sopranos, Margulies clearly has the chops to pull it off. But I wonder if the premise will get old after an episode or two. I’m betting there will usually be some sort of shock-factor in each episode – an “Oh my god, how can that happen?” moment.

In tonight’s episode, that scene happened in the courtroom. She’s got a guy on the witness stand, and you can see him starting to squirm as she gets closer and closer to the truth. She looks him square in the eye and says, “You beat your son.” Then he punches her in the face, sending her sprawling on the courtroom floor with a bloody lip. Case closed.

I think this show could work if they don’t fall into the same pat formula week after week (a la House, where you can bet the farm that a patient’s going to spew blood at least once in every episode). And if they can keep the character of Elizabeth from going all Andy Sipowicz on us every week. We’re not dumb. We can see that coming a mile away. Keep it fresh, folks. That's all I ask.