Twenty-five years ago, today, the television series The Wright Verdicts debuted on CBS. Created and executive-produced by Dick Wolf, it starred Tom Conti, Margaret Colin and Aida Turturro as the main cast (Variety also lists John Glover but, IMDB does not.). Notable guest stars were Candy Clark, Peter Facinelli, Allison Janney and Leslie Mann.
There were only six episodes that aired between March 31 and June 11 with a seventh episode intended for a May slot, never airing. It’s first episode was on a Friday, the second episode aired the following Wednesday, the third episode went back to Friday, the following week and the fourth episode showed up on a Sunday, the next week. The last two aired episodes were on Sundays in June. [No wonder it failed. ~Vic]
Legal drama with Charles Wright, an Englishman, working as a lawyer in New York City. Sandy Hamar is an ex-NYPD detective who serves as the mandatory private eye and Lydia is the super efficient secretary.
The Wright Verdicts is mature in the best sense. [I]t’s smart, has no false innocence and has the right amount of fun. Criminal lawyer Charles Wright (Tom Conti) will win juries over like clockwork and the series should likewise charm viewers. The character’s chief skill is blarney or, as his investigator puts it, shucking and jiving. Charles is bumbling and self-deprecating one minute, erudite and mischievous the next. Conti brings off Wright’s sense of humor and his status as a ladies’ man. The dynamic between Conti and his two female employees […] needs some work. [T]here’s so much flirtation that the relationships in this office triangle seem headed in only one direction.
The hour has a surplus of spectacular aerial shots of Manhattan.
With crimes revolving around designer drugs and cellular phones, the show poses itself as a Perry Mason for the ’90s. It’s about as conventional and formulaic as that old warhorse. The parlor-game plotting is more than passable but, the writing is undistinguished. Only Conti’s malty voice and trilling accent are enough to elevate the program’s mark a little.
Executive producer Dick Wolf has cannily combined two genres…Murder, She Wrote’s warm coziness and his own Law & Order’s cold, complex cases…and come up with a lukewarm show that’s nonetheless pretty irresistible.
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Five years ago, today, the #1 movie at the box office was The Other Woman, a comedy starring Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Don Johnson, Kate Upton, Taylor Kinney and Nicki Minaj. Released April 25, it was directed by Nick Cassavetes (the son of John Cassavetes & Gena Rowlands). Melissa Stack was hired to write a screenplay that was based on the 1996 movie The First Wives Club.
After discovering her boyfriend is married, Carly Whitten tries to get her ruined life back on track. But, when she accidentally meets the wife he’s been cheating on, she realizes they have much in common and her sworn enemy becomes her greatest friend. When yet another affair is discovered, all three women team up to plot mutual revenge on their cheating, lying, three-timing SOB.
From Justin Chang (Variety):
[…] an ungainly, often flat-footed yet weirdly compelling romantic dramedy about two gals who become unlikely best friends when they realize they’re being screwed (literally) by the same man. Like a watered-down “Diabolique” or a younger-skewing “First Wives Club,” this latest mainstream rebound from director Nick Cassavetes taps into the pleasures of sisterly solidarity and righteous revenge. Beneath the wobbly pratfalls and the scatological set pieces, there’s no denying the film’s mean-spirited kick, or its more-than-passing interest in what makes its women tick.
From Todd McCarthy (The Hollywood Reporter):
A female solidarity adultery comedy that’s three parts embarrassing farce to one part genuinely comic discharge.
From Christy Lemire (Roger Ebert):
Trouble is, Cassavetes, working from a script by Melissa K. Stack, veers wildly between cautionary tale, revenge comedy, scatological raunchfest and female empowerment drama. In theory, the joy of watching this kind of movie comes from seeing such a smooth operator squirm as his schemes are revealed and destroyed. […] plot contrivances abound […], along with not one but, two instances of characters, um, graphically relieving themselves at inopportune moments. The joke isn’t funny the first time and this kind of gross-out strain of comedy clangs uncomfortably with the feel-good message […]. Any semblance of intelligent humor or insight into female aging that may have existed gets tossed out the window of Carly’s high-rise office by the end […]
[There are, literally, NO good trivia bits for this movie. ~Vic]
Ten years ago, today, the #1 movie at the box office was 17 Again, a comedy starring Zac Efron, Matthew Perry, Leslie Mann, Thomas Lennon, Michelle Trachtenberg, Jim Gaffigan, Margaret Cho & Melora Hardin. Released April 17, it was directed by Burr Steers (Gore Vidal‘s nephew).
At 17 Mike O’Donnell is on top of the world: he’s the star of his high school basketball team, is a shoo-in for a college scholarship, and is dating his soul-mate, Scarlet. But, at what’s supposed to be his big game where a college scout is checking him out, Scarlet reveals that she’s pregnant. Mike decides to leave the game and asks Scarlet to marry him, which she does. During their marriage, Mike can only whine about the life he lost because he married her so, she throws him out. When he also loses his job, he returns to the only place he’s happy at, his old high school. While looking at his high school photo, a janitor asks him if he wishes he could be 17 again and he says yes. One night while driving he sees the janitor on a bridge ready to jump and goes after him. When he returns to his friend Ned’s house, where he has been staying, he sees that he is 17 again. He decides to take this opportunity to get the life he lost.
♦ Visual effects were not used when Zac Efron does the basketball tricks during the cafeteria scene. He really did accomplish them on his own.
♦ This is a remake of the 1986 Disney TV movie “Young Again” starring a very young Keanu Reeves in one of his earliest roles.
♦ In one scene, Mike wakes up and begins describing his “dream” of being in high school again only to find his daughter, Maggie, caring for him. This is an homage to the counterpart scene in Back to the Future (1985), in which Marty McFly wakes up and finds his teen-aged mother caring for him.