The PD's weigh in...

Some love it,some hate it. More accurately, lots of PD's hate it, and most for similar reasons. I understand. And here's what I have to say (this is from my response to Seth (link above):


It being 1 am, I'm too tired to attempt all ten questions. So for now, all I'll add is this. I'm not surprised you didn't like the pilot, and I'm not surprised by the things that upset you. Give it time.

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

It's a process. I'm proud of my book. It nails what I want to say, but it's easy to write a book that's pure, It's just you and an editor, and if you're lucky a few ten thousands of people will read it. Doing a TV show is different. The scale, the money, the interests involved all require some shifting of expectations, some compromise.

You can talk about The Wire. It was a fine show, but do you know how many people watched it? Fewer than a million. If we post numbers anything like that, you won't have to worry about RTB, we'll get canned in a heartbeat.

I don't mind your judgments. I'd prefer it if they were gentle given that I've given over a dozen years to direct representation, and fought my heart out for our clients and their cause, but go ahead and judge. But as you do, judge me too on this: Are the clients drawn humanely? Do the lawyers genuinely care about them no matter what they've done? Do the PD's fight passionately for every client? Does the show depict the system as fundamentally broken? Does the show confront issues of race and class?

If the sense is that the show does those things well, I'd ask for some leeway in the relationship stuff. Wait and see what happens. Give the show a chance. The script was the first one I ever wrote. Sure there are clunky parts, and sure it'd be better if I wrote it today. So watch three or four more. If you still hate the show, pull the plug. But give me the benefit of the doubt.

On the other hand, I was touched by this:

What I loved particularly, of course, the red meat for me, was the defense attorney telling the judge exactly what he thought of her. Boy do I know that judge! And boy do I know the feelings and thoughts that public defender expressed! And boy have I been there — exactly there — including where the judge says “I’m punishing your client b/c I don’t like you” but then says, “well, I didn’t exactly say that, did I?” And also I’ve been exactly there where the judge demands/requires an apology, whether I mean it or not. Kiss the ring the judge says. My situation was not in the middle of some case or contempt charge so it was a little different. My supervisor didn’t go to the judge on my behalf; instead, the judge complained to my supervisor about me so I’m the one who visited the judge and actually did apologize in a general way, explaining that I was just trying to do my job and I hope the judge understood that, then biting my tongue when the judge didn’t seem to hear a thing I’d said and then told me that the best way I could help my clients was to make sure I did not anger a judge, because, well, judges try not to hold it against a defendant when the judge is mad at the defendant’s attorney, but that’s not always easy so the best thing to do is just not make the judge mad in the first place. See? Got it bucko? My way, or the highway! So, yeah, different, but boy can I relate!


fairhavenhorn said...

Merely a nit, but The Wire is showing audience size of a little over 4 million over the course of a first week. The under 1 million is just for the first day. This also does not include overseas, later repeat, and DVD numbers.

But, this doesn't change the issue for any show targeting a wider audience. You have to give the audience what it wants, not what the critics want and not what you want. This means going for the more widely accepted approaches, especially when the initial showing ratings are important. HBO has the luxury of considering first week ratings in addition to first showing audience.

catdirt said...

generally, i enjoyed it- recognizing it for what it is (a tv show.) i'm a private defense attorney, not a pd, but i do a ton of appointed work. my wife, a civil attorney, loved it "this is how i imagine your day!" was her quote.

i was, personally, annoyed with the fact that the righteous pd is banging the da- living with her? married? i've met those pd's and i just don't understand how any defense attorney could marry a da.

it boggles my mind, but i guess it's a decent plot point.

Anonymous said...

I am a PD in a large city and I loved the show! I thought it was very realistic EXCEPT for the passionate PD having sex with the DA! Yeah right...we don't mix like that - I can't think of two sides that are more like oil and water...although I have heard of it happening!