I just finished the new legal thriller TV Series that is currently streaming on Amazon. It’s called Goliath and stars Billy Bob Thornton as Billy McBride, who once upon a time was a super successful lawyer for a multinational law firm that bore his name – Cooperman & McBride.
For reasons that are not immediately made clear to us, Billy is no longer a partner in that firm. His wife, one of the top attorneys at Cooperman, has divorced him, and Billy currently lives and works out of the infamous and real Ocean Lodge,
a Santa Monica, CA hotel. He drives a beat-up Ford Mustang. He drinks more than he should. When he is not in his residence at the Ocean Lodge, Billy may meet with clients at the neighborhood dive bar –
called Chez Jay, which was just next door.
The series runs for 8 hour-long episodes and can be most easily described as: A disgraced lawyer, now an ambulance chaser, gets a case that could bring him redemption or at least revenge on the firm which expelled him.
Now this is not a new story. Heck, it is almost a staple in the film and TV industry. Goliath might be called L.A.Law Meets The Verdict. Or maybe we can call it Michael Clayton meets The Rainmaker.
Yes, as viewers we love the underdog attorney, the alcoholic attorney, or the attorney who no one thinks can win the case, which involves taking on a behemoth of a corporation, or an insurance company, or even another law firm.
Yeah, I cheered when Tom Cruise as Lt. Daniel Kaffee took down the US Marine Corps, represented by Jack Nicholson as Col. Nathan Jessup and Kiefer Sutherland as Lt. Jonathan Kendrick in A Few Good Men. I fist pumped when the inexperienced lawyer Rudy Baylor played by Matt Damon, won a huge case against a huge insurance company and their attorney Leo Drummond played by Jon Voight. That film was called The Rainmaker.
Or The Verdict. Paul Newman played an alcoholic attorney called Frank Galvin who took on a case about a comatose patient. His opponents – a major Boston hospital, the Catholic Archdiocese, and attorney Ed Concannon, played by James Mason, who was usually referred to, in the film, as The Prince of Fucking Darkness.
Goliath is a series that fits right in with those films. Billy Bob Thornton’s Billy McBride is your basic brilliant lawyer who has had many major reversals recently; so much so that you might tend to believe that he’s going to be chewed up and spit out by opposing counsel.
So who is he going up against: a huge corporation, Borns Tech, that has major contracts with the US Department of Defense to develop, build, and deliver weapons. And that firm is represented by Cooperman & McBride, which is, of course, Billy’s old firm.
While the foundation of the story is a familiar one, and the title suggests a win for Billy McBride – I mean the biblical Goliath was downed by David armed with just a sling-shot, this is not a series that you should by-pass.
In fact, the series first aired on Friday the 14th, and I finished it on the night of the 16th. Okay, I didn’t binge-watch the series from start to finish, but I did managed to watch 8 episodes in 48 hours.So let’s get into it.
The opening has a pleasure boat at sea. Okay – maybe not at sea, but at least off the shores of Long Beach, CA. There seems to be just one guy on this boat. Cut to another nearby boat, a fishing boat. As we listen to the banter between the two guys on the fishing boat, suddenly the other boat explodes.
I mean this was a big time explosion – seemingly way more powerful that you might have expected. Debris from the exploded boat rains down on the fishing boat.
Then the fishing boat is suddenly directly in the path of a huge oncoming wave.
Time passes. Billy McBride spends his time at Chez Jay. One evening, a kind of brassy blonde takes the bar stool next to Billy. She is Patty Solis Papagian. Nina Arianda has the role.
Now Patty has a friend who is the sister of the guy who was on the boat that blew up. Though the explosion and his death were ruled a suicide by the authorities, Patty’s friend does not believe that her brother did so.
In fact she’s so positive about it that she’s asked her friend Patty, a lawyer who needs to also sell real-estate on the side (her law practice isn’t doing well enough) to look into it. Patty is pushy to say the least, but Billy doesn’t exactly jump off his bar stool. He’s not eager at all; in fact he turns her down.
But it will come to light that the man on the boat was working for Borns Tech, and Borns Tech is a major client of Cooperman & McBride. And that fact. not unexpectedly, gets Billy’s attention.
Once Billy has agreed to take the case, some strange things begin to occur. First, his Mustang convertible, is slimed, or to be even more succinct, is trashed with a seeming truck load of fish guts. The Billy is being followed. The intimidation then becomes police harassment when his car is stopped (for no apparent reason) and Billy is beaten up by the cop, then arrested for resisting arrest, causing him to have to spend the night in a lockup, which makes him late for the court. Don’t be surprised when I tell you that before the case even has started, it has been tossed out of court because Billy did not show up on time.
Okay – on one side we have one the three largest law firms in the world (Cooperman & McBride) a firm headed by Donald Cooperman (played by William Hurt)
with a huge support staff and nearly unlimited funds. Then we have Borns Tech, a weapons and armaments firm so big, that they can afford to have paid Cooperman & McBride in excess of 1 billion in billables.
On the other side, the Billy McBride and Patty Solis Papagian (a graduate of the La Verne College of Law which is a real law school). The support staff consists of Marva Jefferson (Julie Brister) and Brittany Gold (Tania Raymonde) who turns tricks as a call girl when she’s not doing her paralegal job.
We have a Judge, Rostum Keller played by Harold Perrineau, who may be in Donald Cooperman’s pocket. We have Damon Gupton as Borns Tech’s General Counsel Leonard Lett who counsels that the case be settled.
When Judge Keller deems the case as complex – that means the decision as to whether or not the law suit brought by McBride et al, can be brought to trial, will be decided by the judge. We get this exchange, one meant to streamline the proceedings to save all concerned time, money, and effort.
Lett: $300,000 payable today with all the appropriate waivers and confidentiality.
Billy McBride: No
Judge Keller: How about if I kick it up to $500,000
Lett: I can do that…
McBride: You have the authority to do that? Impressive. But no.
Papagian: Your honor, may I have a moment to confer with co-counsel.
Papagian: Billy, that’s a half million dollars…
McBride: This case is much bigger than that. They’re hiding something big. The half million they’re offering. That’s them tossing us a nickel.
There’s your introduction. This series has high production values, a superb cast which also includes Molly Parker as Callie Senate, Cooperman’s lead litigator. and Olivia Thirlby as Lucy Kittridge,
a young and ambitious litigator. You should remember Parker who played Jackie Sharp in House of Cards.
Hurt’s role, Donald Cooperman , is awash in red-lights and darkness. Cooperman was involved in a fire and has suffered burns on his head, face, shoulders, and upper chest. He’s something of a monster in one sense, and he’s also monstrous in another sense as he plays off his litigators against each other.
The series was created and written by David E. Kelly (Ally McBeal, Boston Legal, Harry’s Law, L.A.Law, The Practice, and Doogie Howser MD). His partner on Goliath is Jonathan Shapiro who has been involved in many of the same shows as Kelley.
What makes the show especially appealing is the fact that it is not on broadcast TV. There’s just 8 episodes, there are no commercials, they have much more liberty with such things as language, nudity, sexual situations meaning this is a show for adults.
I found the show quite appealing. While it is not perfect, it has the freedom that such shows as The Blacklist and The Good Wife did not have. There are no ‘case-of-the-weeks. The story covers eight episodes to tell, and there’s none of what we get in broadcast TV – you know story stretching and filler.
In short, I thought this was a terrific watch, and I highly recommend it.
Check out the trailer: