PASADENA, Calif. — You can almost envision the moment that the folks at ABC decided to put "The Deep End" on the air.
Hey, gang, you know how well "Grey's Anatomy" is working for us? Why don't we try that with a legal show?
We could put a bunch of attractive, twentysomething lawyers in a big law firm, add a whole bunch of soap opera, and end up with a show that "Grey's" fans just might love!
And they just might.
The new series, which debuts Thursday at 7 p.m. on Ch. 4, follows the professional and personal lives of five young, first-year associates who are thrown into "The Deep End" of a large, prestigious Los Angeles law firm.
The five (Matt Long, Leah Pipes, Tina Majorino, Ben Lawson and Mehcad Brooks) are uniformly gorgeous — this is TV, after all — and are quickly assigned interesting cases (despite being just out of law school) and many of them are involved in forbidden romance.
And the firm itself is a battleground between the guy who's been running it over the past couple of years, attorney Cliff Huddle (Billy Zane) aka the "prince of darkness," and the just-returned Hart Sterling (Clancy Brown).
"The Deep End" is the brainchild of David Hemingson, who was himself a young lawyer who came to a large L.A. firm.
Hemingson has apparently never watched much TV — he told critics: "I kind of see this show as kind of the reboot of the legal show.
"I think there's never been a legal show that has taken it from the perspective of these newly minted lawyers — these newbees, these kids who've come out and they're confronting the reality of their practice for the first time."
That's baloney, of course.
Not only does "The Deep End" contain elements of myriad shows such as "L.A. Law," "The Practice," "Ally McBeal," "Boston Legal," "Damages," "Paper Chase" and "Eli Stone" — just to name a few — but there was a short-lived legal drama eight years ago titled "The First Years" that had pretty much exactly the same premise.
But the success or failure of "The Deep End" rests solely on itself. And, while it's not a great show, it does do for lawyers what "Grey's Anatomy" did for doctors — create what could be a watchable soap opera on top of cases that involve real issues and real drama.
(It's also at least as adult as "Grey's Anatomy," and it's airing at 7 p.m. in this time zone — so parents, be aware.)
The young lawyers are "dropped into this intensely political, highly charged environment," Hemingson said. "So I think the interpersonal aspects of the show, I think the comedy of the show, the sexiness of the show, the fun of the show is something we haven't quite seen, especially from a 20-something perspective. And when you consider the fact that it's also sort of conflated with some really realistic kind of ripped-from-the-headlines cases that we're doing, I think it distinguishes itself from anything that's been on thus far. At least, we hope it does."
Well, it's not so distinguishable. But ABC isn't looking for groundbreaking, or it wouldn't have put "The Deep End" on the air.
The network is looking for a show that people will watch. This could very well be it.