Amazon is expected to issue its first ever straight-to-series order for Trial – a new legal drama from David E. Kelley. The streaming platform, which previously distinguished itself from its rivals by giving audiences the opportunity to weigh in on which of its pilots should be picked up, appears to be prepared to make an exception for this show, which will be led by Oscar winners Billy Bob Thornton and William Hurt.
Thornton will play Billy McBride, who was once a high-powered lawyer renowned for having co-founded an influential law firm. Having been unceremoniously ejected from his lofty position, he has become, for the most part, drunk. Amidst this unfortunate situation, McBride’s past and present suddenly collide when a wrongful death case puts him across the courtroom from Donald Cooper, who is head of McBride’s former firm, and will be played by William Hurt. Thornton and Hurt are joined in the cast by Olivia Thirlby (Just Before I Go), who will play the talented, but inexperienced young lawyer, Lucy Kittridge.
The pilot is co-written by Kelley and his frequent collaborator Jonathan Shapiro, who have previously written and produced together on Kelley’s past creations Boston Legal and The Practice. On the strength of this, Amazon is reportedly expecting to order 10 episodes – bypassing its established audience-based pilot selection process. The studio’s enthusiasm for the project is unsurprising, since David E. Kelley has 10 Primetime Emmy awards to his name – however, the plot details already released, and the casting already announced suggests we could be seeing little in the way of innovation from the famed producer.
We can expect, from Trial, two seasoned, white male lawyers with very different personalities, rattling their sabres at each other across a courtroom filled with anonymous power-suits. Meanwhile, poorly drawn, much younger female lawyers will be initially challenging, but will ultimately will concede that they have much to learn from the older men, while wearing short skirts. This is standard David E. Kelley fare, so it remains to be seen what will be included to differentiate Trial from his previous shows. Perhaps more will be revealed in the wider casting.