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Doubt - Pilot - Advance Preview: "Prepare to Have a Few of Your Own"

Confession Time. I love Katherine Heigl. I have loved her since her Roswell/Bride of Chucky days and she was the reason I even started watching Grey's Anatomy. I've watched several of her feature films, despite knowing the end result would be the same (Woman with quirks who can't get a man, does get a man) and I sat through State of Affairs for her because I was hoping she was poised for her big TV comeback. Unfortunately, State of Affairs wasn't her big moment, and she moved on to the new CBS legal drama Doubt. Now I have to also admit, I was a bit disappointed when I first learned that KaDee Strickland, who played Charlotte King on Private Practice was recast in Doubt by Heigl. I felt this way mostly because I love Kadee and would've loved seeing her kick ass in the courtroom, but also because I don't think playing a powerhouse lawyer is in Heigl's wheelhouse. I guess you can say I had my doubts about Heigl being able to pull off Doubt, even though she'd be surrounded by a talented supporting cast that included Dulé Hill and Laverne Cox but after seeing the finished product, I can't help but think maybe it was the best decision for the show to cast Heigl as the lead.

Who's in it: Katherine Heigl stars as Sadie Ellis, a brilliant( or so everyone keeps telling us) lawyer at a New York firm owned by Isaiah Roth(Elliot Gould). We come to find out that Roth's relationship with Sadie is a bit more complicated than it appears thanks to a piece of her troubled past. Working with Sadie is Albert Cobb (Dulé Hill ), who seems to act more as Sadie's keeper than coworker, and forever in Sadie's shadow as a lawyer, Cameron Wirth (Laverne Cox). Kudos to CBS for being so diverse, especially with casting Laverne, but it is a shame that Laverne seems to be one of the weakest links here. Rounding out the cast we have Dreama Walker as Tiffany Simon, a 2nd year Jr. associate at the firm and Steven Pasquale as Dr. Billy Brennan, the client that Sadie is defending and wants to do a little more than that with. Kobi Libii also stars as Nick Brady, but isn't given much to do in the pilot. The casting is actually pretty solid and for the most part, the cast gels well and have solid chemistry and as a whole they manage to elevate what is at best a decent premise and script.

What it's about: Can I just say, Katherine Heigl plays a woman with quirks who can't get a man, but falls for a man who falls for her and there's lawyer stuff happening? No? Okay. Doubt centers around Sadie Ellis, a star lawyer at Isaiah Roth and Associates who is defending the wealthy, sexy and brilliant Dr. Billy Brennan who is accused of murdering his high school sweetheart after their break up twenty-four years ago. Sadie and Billy can't help but connect with each other while working together and this puts their whole case at jeopardy as doubt creeps in and Sadie is willing to risk the case to do what Billy wants because she can't see how a man like Billy can be anything other than innocent. Albert, Sadie's associate, is kind of like her caretaker and is working the case with her and can't help but feel that Sadie is leading them down a path that could lose them the case. Meanwhile, Cameron is struggling to defend a client who is mentally unstable in court and prove she's just as good as Sadie to Isaiah. Working with Cameron is wide eyed Jr. Associate Tiffany, who is just a simple girl from Iowa. Isaiah oversees it all, while dealing with a persistent young man with a checkered past in need of chance, Nick, and lamenting on his own situation that mirrors Sadie's.
What it's like: The biggest problem with Doubt is that it doesn't know how to present itself. Is it a serious legal drama or is it an unintentional parody of the genre?Is it a character study of quirky New York Lawyers or is it a twisty legal drama that features compelling characters? The show is weighed down by uneven pacing, and clunky dialogue that hinders performances. There's a lot of dialogue that aims to be witty while servicing as a tool to present the fact that our characters have quirks and after a while it really starts to get annoying. The cast as a whole is pretty good, with only a few weak moments here and there but you have to wonder at times if the weak delivery of the lines is because they couldn't figure out why the characters are saying so many ridiculous things themselves. Pasquale and Heigl do have great chemistry together and Heigl has moments where she is semi-believable as a top-notch lawyer. (Moments that are almost undermined by the constant dialogue praising her. Show, don't tell is the cardinal rule) The thing that makes the pilot hardest to watch is how it struggles with tone. One minute, the show is attempting to be serious and the next, it's not and that can be really taxing on the viewer. Granted, this is just the pilot which has the heavy handed task of plopping viewers down into this world and pushing us to catch up while it's still moving, so maybe with time it'll improve. Because it's a legal drama, I'm sure there will be plenty of procedural cases-of-the week to compliment the overarching case with Billy, so sustainability of plot wasn't a big deal for me, but I still have my doubts that this will be more than a one season wonder unless it can fix it's issues.

Why you should watch: Honestly, it's hard to come up with a reason as to why you should watch this pilot. How to Get Away With Murder is still airing and when it does focus on the legal aspects of the show, it runs circles around what Doubt presents here. The best I could come up with it is that if you're looking for a legal drama to fill the hole The Good Wife left (and you don't want to pay for CBS All Access to watch the far superior The Good Fight) or you miss Boston Legal (A show this probably is the most akin to) and the darkness of HTGAWM is too much for you then you should check it out. It manages to be serviceable if you can manage to actually sit through it. It doesn't present itself as appointment TV and it most certainly needs to get stronger legal cases to stay compelling as the main murder mystery(which isn't all that interesting). The characters need some fleshing out, but as with most pilots that's to be expected and with time, they very well could improve as there is potential there since most of the cast is extremely talented. The show sets out to provide the viewers and Sadie with doubt about whether or not Billy is really innocent and if she's headed down a dark path but what it really manages to do is to cast doubt as to whether you're wasting your time watching Doubt or not. C-

Doubt premieres Wednesday, February 15th at 9pm CST (The slot previously occupied by Code Black) following Criminal Minds.

Do you plan on checking out Doubt? Sound Off Below in the comments and let us know!

About the Author - Winston Mize
I always have the most trouble coming up with a blurb to describe me. Which is really weird for someone who wants to make a career out of writing. If you think I'm awkward online, it's just because you haven't met me in person. I'd like to think I have other interests outside of TV, and maybe I do, but TV is the one that gets me most excited. I live a pretty boring life so TV's the way I get my fix, and I'd love to chat about it with you. I'm also always looking to guest on podcasts and become a podcasting sensation, so if you've got the opportunity, I'm in there like swimwear. You can check me out with different previews of various shows or read my reviews of iZombie, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Legends Of Tomorrow here on the site. If you're a fan of One Tree Hill you can check out my podcast about as well by checking out our twitter page @OnlyOthPod.
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