In terms of television, David E. Kelley has had his greatest successes in the realm of legal drama (for example, Ally McBeal, The Practice, and Boston Legal), so it comes as no surprise to hear that Amazon Studios intend to forego their much celebrated public method of selecting new shows through a pilot voting period, and order ten episodes of Trial, right off the bat. The fact that the cast is led by Academy Award winners Billy Bob Thornton and William Hurt clearly factors into that decision, too.
The legal setting is not the only similarity between Trial and other David E Kelley television projects. It also features two aging male lawyers at odds with one another, surrounded by a bevy of younger, female characters – here played by Olivia Thirlby, Maria Bello, Molly Parker and Sarah Wynter.
Billy McBride, played by Thornton, is a washed-up lawyer seeking redemption, while Donald Cooper, played by William Hurt, is the lawyer that potentially gets in the way of that. Undoubtedly, the purpose of the younger female characters will be to offer sage counsel to the pair, while wearing short skirts and expressing mewling concern when things get a little heated.
Vice President of Amazon Studios, Roy Price, explained the logic that went into the decision-making process regarding Trial.
“Billy Bob Thornton, William Hurt and David E. Kelley are world-class talents who have achieved longstanding success in captivating storytelling.”
Though David E. Kelley shows tend to follow the same pattern of characterization, there are some aspects to Trial that make it an intriguing prospect – not least the casting of heavy-weight performers Thornton and Hurt. Billy Bob Thornton in particular is coming to the show from the unprecedented success of the first season of Fargo.
Trial will arrive on the Amazon streaming service some time in 2016, for an initial ten episodes.