Billy Bob Thornton leads this noir legal drama about a washed up lawyer with a penchant for booze.
In the last ten years, it feels like we’ve had more legal dramas than any other genre – everywhere you look there’s a new series about court shoe, suit-wearing lawyers busting crimes and failing to keep any kind of work-life balance. In fact, we’ve seen so many, we’d take the stand and say that you can’t impress us with legal drama anymore, we’ve seen it all.
Amazon Prime’s Goliath is a little different. There are still a few courtroom clichés to content with; Billie Bob Thornton’s Billy McBride is our anti-hero as a washed-up lawyer who looks like he needs a bath; he’s got a nagging ex-wife, and lives in a motel room, drinking away his sorrows. But obviously, it wasn’t always like that. Before the booze and the breakdowns, Billy founded one of the world’s most powerful law firms in the world, alongside his partner Donald Cooperman. After a fatal falling out, our Billy is stuck with the petty crime cases, whilst Donald basks in the glory of the empire they created. You can see why he turned to drink.
However, it all changes when a suspicious suicide takes place on a boat, and Billy gets brought back into the fold to crack the case. And this is where it differs from the many legal dramas we already know and love. It’s got a distinctly noir feel – whenever focus moves to Cooperman and the law firm, the tone turns dark, and the pace is brooding and dark. It soon becomes plainly obvious to viewers who’s the David, and who’s the Goliath in this scenario.
The Guardian’s Brian Moylan calls this a “noirish treat filled with a strong supporting cast of unconventional characters,” saying “their nefarious interconnections will be enough to keep us clicking on the next episode in an intense fit of bingeing.” The New York Times’ Mike Hale praises the series opening: “quick, textured, with a sense of place and a reliably prickly performance from Mr. Thornton,” but criticises the women’s “slightly cartoonish roles.” Variety’s Maureen Ryan disagrees, saying though Cooperman is “tediously self-absorbed… the rest of the cast supply an embarrassment of riches.”
First shown October 2016. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here: