Billy Bob Thornton is a man with a quiet consistency in regards to the roles he plays. His latest starring role in Goliath is no exception. Thornton plays down and out lawyer Billy McBride, an at one time big shot attorney and co-founder of the law firm Cooperman and McBride. Thornton plays the careless alcoholic with ease, and as with any role he plays, he easily morphs into the character with an effortless professionalism. As always, he subjects a blue collar rough around the edges appeal. When an up and coming lawyer presents him with a case, and the chance to argue against his former firm, McBride begins the process of shaking off the rust and getting back into the courtroom.
Set in California, the series makes great use of its locations, setting up scenes along the California coast line, and Chinatown. It’s a minimalist presentation that doesn’t spend too much time displaying the scenery, but makes excellent use of the limited approach. Throughout the 8 episodes, many of these scenes occur with time-lapse photography, helping transition night to day. The series unwinds in several layers, and uses the classic courtroom film format. Each dark truth that gets uncovered leads to more unanswered questions, and an even bigger more corrupt picture. There is nothing new in the story telling, but it’s still a fresh perspective, and the crimes on trial are very relevant to current events. As more levels of the truth are exposed, the series takes on a tension as the stakes get bigger. The tension wouldn’t have been possible without some jaw dropping plot twists. A few of these twists occur as cliff hanging endings. The end of episode two in particular will have you hitting the next episode button as soon as the credits start rolling.
William Hurt gives an excellent performance as Donald Cooperman, the still residing head of Cooperman and McBride. His character has all the makings of a James Bond villain, and adds a respected depth to the series. Hurt’s soft demeanor gives Cooperman an emotionally unattached persona, and the veteran actor nearly steals every scene he is in. Molly Parker and Olivia Thirlby are both equally impressive, playing attorneys battling each other for the opportunity to try the case against McBride. Their head to head actions produce some great cat fight bantering, and both actresses nail their parts with spiteful and smug performances. The end result is one of the biggest pair of bitches seen on television - the actresses are very lovely, but their character are down right cold! Dwight Yoakam continues to prove his acting talents as Wendall Corey, the head of the aerospace company being defended by Cooperman. The role sets Yoakam up against his friend and Sling Blade co-star Thornton. It’s nice to see the two on screen together again, and the natural dynamic that unfolds between the actors. By the last episode, Yoakam once again proves he’s just as talented behind the microphone as he is behind the camera.
|Suck it, Hollywood.|
Writer David E. Kelley no doubt put his experience as a lawyer to good use when writing this series. Kelley doesn’t candy coat the unsavory actions that have classically given lawyers a bad name. Along with co-creator/ writer Jonathan Shapiro, who’s credits include the series Boston Legal and The Firm, the two give viewers an eyeopening look at what a person goes through when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Goliath doesn’t get too technical when it comes to courtroom lingo, which makes it an enjoyable watch. The fault of many similar shows and films is sometimes they go too far with the legal jargon for casual viewers to understand. The series drags a little at times, and a few sub-stories occur that never fully get resolved by the last episode, but overall Goliath proves to be another successful Amazon Original. Along with FX’s Fargo, (a performance that earned Thornton a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Miniseries) Thornton continues to impress and proves that the new frontier for dramatic acting is television.
-Lee L. Lind