On this edition of EMExclusives, we are going to take a trip back through time to a place that brought people together for food, fun and conversation. We are talking about the latest doc to hit the screens, The Automat
Documenting Horn and Hardart’s iconic Automat, one of America’s original and most popular restaurant chains in NYC and Philadelphia.
I had the honor of talking to first time director, Lisa Hurwitz about the research and the once in a lifetime interviews that went on to making this documentary.
CBS’ new comedy (and I use that word advisedly) 9JKL (Mondays, 8:30/7:30C) is the ongoing tale of an actor, Josh Roberts (Mark Feuerstein, Royal Pains) whose show gets canceled and he loses all his money in a divorce – meaning he has to return to New York City and live in the apartment next door to his parents.
Compared to the series premiere of 9JKL, 2 Broke Girls (another CBS comedy – waddaya know?) took place in a convent!
Katherine Heigl’s new series, Doubt (CBS, Wednesdays, 9/8C) finds her playing lawyer Sadie Ellis, a star at a boutique law firm – Isaiah Roth and Associates – that is owned by her father. In the series premiere, she begins her defense of Billy Brenna an ‘altruistic pediatric surgeon’ who is accused of having murdered his girlfriend 24 years prior.
She begins to have feelings for him but it’s not a slam dunk that he’s innocent.
The series premiere opens with a woman biking through downtown New York with a careless disregard for traffic (human or vehicular) before skidding to a stop in front of the courthouse. We learn she’s Sadie when her associate, Albert Cobb (Dulé Hill) tells her she’s a menace.
From there, after a quick wardrobe change, she hijacks a press conference with the D.A., bails her father out jail (he called a judge a fascist – his defense… she is a fascist!), and brokers a bail deal for her client.
In short order we meet the rest of the show’s stellar cast – Laverne Cox (Cameron Wirth), Lauren Blumenfeld (Sadie’s incompetent assistant, Lucy), Dreama Walker (Cameron’s assistant, Tiffany Allan) and Kobi Libii (Nick Brady, a newly minted lawyer trying to get a job interview with ‘the Big Dog) – and see the quirks and chemistry that signal a breezy, semi-blue sky series that balances work and personal lives and how the lines between them blur.
Naturally, there’s the witness to whom Billy allegedly confessed the details of the crime – Mike Slater (Lee Tergesen) – someone who has been as clean as a whistle for twenty years after a few very minor transgressions as a kid.
Cue the job seeking Nick Brady…
As a sidebar… errr… B-arc, Cameron is defending a paranoid schizophrenic on a murder charge – a case that hinges on the jury seeing him as he was that day, unmedicated.
For the most part, Doubt’s premiere is well done – the cast is extremely good and director Adam Bernstein keeps things mostly breezy – pausing only for the most important moments of drama (like Billy saying why he’d leave a sixteen-year old girl in a park in the early morning).
Laverne Cox, as the openly transgender Cameron is as good as she’s ever been on Orange Is The New Black and steals virtually every scene she’s in – she is probably the best thing about the premiere.
Gould is magnificently imperious as Isaiah, and Hill is properly earnest as Albert.
The success of the show depends on Heigl, though, and while she is up to playing the complex Sadie as a smart, professional woman, Sadie’s not a character who would be so idiotic to make the mistake of falling for a client – or especially behaving like it. Not with the stakes being so high.
If you set aside that lapse, the show is a tolerable hour. If, like me, you can’t past that major case of idiot plotting – and it was a key element in the show’s premise, it would be best leave Doubt alone.