The Lincoln Lawyer season 1 review – a mainstream procedural with more gloss and less grit

May 12, 2022
M.N. Miller 0
Netflix, Streaming Service, TV Reviews
3

Summary

Netflix now has a Michael Connelly series to call their own with The Lincoln Lawyer. An entertaining procedural with more gloss, less grit, and a break-out turn by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo.

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3

Summary

Netflix now has a Michael Connelly series to call their own with The Lincoln Lawyer. An entertaining procedural with more gloss, less grit, and a break-out turn by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo.

This review of the Netflix series The Lincoln Lawyer season 1 does not contain spoilers. 

Access the archive of news, recaps, and reviews for The Lincoln Lawyer.

The new streaming Netflix series, The Lincoln Lawyer, is much more mainstream than most shows they welcome. The series is based on the hugely popular books by veteran Los Angeles crime reporter Michael Connelly. Spawning seven novels, the last being in 2019, the adaptation has been in development works for a few years now. After the cancellation at CBS because of COVID-19 production issues (and rumored to have Logan Marshall-Green in the lead), Netflix ordered a 10-episodes series.

In this version, the show picks up during Connelly’s second book in the series, The Brass Verdict (sorry fans, no Harry Bosch crossover here), where Mickey Haller (played by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) has kicked an opioid addiction. After a moderately successful career, he is rising from rock bottom. Helping him are his ex-wife and current office manager, Lorna (Becki Newton) and her fiancé (awkward), and their private investor, Cisco (Angus Sampson). She calls to make sure he takes a meeting with Judge Holder (the always welcomed Lisa Gay Hamilton). The only issue is this is the first time Haller is hearing about it.

When he arrives, the judge is cold, stoic, and stern. She tells him that Jerry Vincent, a fellow defense attorney of Haller’s, was shot. He also left him his entire practice. One of the cases Haller now represents is Trevor Elliott (Christopher Gorham). He is on trial for the murder of his wife and lover. It is the perfect case for Haller, an uber-rich client with deep pockets. However, the judge wants to make sure he takes care of all Vincent’s clients, not just the wealthy ones.

Produced by David E. Kelley (Picket Fences), The Lincoln Lawyer’s first season needs a few episodes to hit its stride — they can be uneven. They heavily rely on quirky characters and the likability of actors’ portrayals like Newton’s Lorna and Sampson’s Cisco. However, after a few, Garcia-Rulfo settles nicely into his role. He carries enough gravitas to show the depth of the character while ruminating over the past and being charming enough to engage the viewer in the present. Although, I would have liked to see more urgency in his performance by the season’s end.

There is a quality about Netflix’s The Lincoln Lawyer that is remarkably light on procedural, that makes it feel like a show created as a dramedy version. It’s a strange combination of not fully embracing Kelley’s knack for strange, exciting cases, characters, and communities while lacking the grit that Connelly is known for. Haller is portrayed with an uneven virtue and not enough three-dimensional flaws. Instead of using the law as he manipulates it, he does it to protect it instead of saving his friends or family.

Of course, this takes place in the second novel of the series. The Haller character is in a different mindset trying to right wrongs, like trying to bring his family back together, including his other ex-wife, Maggie (Neve Campbell), and daughter Hayley. It is refreshing to see two actresses older than Garcia-Rulfo play old flames/love interests. Even more so is Campbell, who plays much more than a woman scorned or worried about her former husband. McFierce, as friends and colleagues call her, deserves her spin-off series.

And that is precisely why The Lincoln Lawyer’s verdict is a mild recommendation. While the show first appears to have a new case every week, the storylines come together. There are two or three compelling plot twists, and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo’s performance as Haller wins you over, as do its supporting cast. Not to mention, the series wisely cast Haller with an actor that shares the character’s Latino heritage. This series offers an inordinate amount of closure to its storylines by the season’s end, a refreshing change of pace in a Hollywood that constantly feels the need to leave things unfinished and set up the next money grab.

Frankly, Netflix could use a few more of those.

What did you think of Netflix’s The Lincoln Lawyer season 1? Let us know in the comments below!

You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix.

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