Wolf's new show lacks `Conviction'

TV preview


The big theme in television these days: Make it young.

Programmers serve up stories about young adults to please viewers in that age group and the advertisers who covet them. Thus, Dick Wolf, the estimable creator of Law & Order, concentrates on young assistant district attorneys in NBC's Conviction, a drama debuting tonight at 10 (WBAL, Channel 11).

Wolf installs Alexandra Cabot (Stephanie March) of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as a bureau chief of the district attorney's office in New York. Cabot displays a serious manner that reflects the Law & Order brand.

The other lawyers in Conviction come across as attractive, driven and two-dimensional. There isn't one as remotely dynamic as older, grayer Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) of Law & Order.

Nick Potter (Jordan Bridges, son of Beau) is the enthusiastic newcomer who left a high-paying firm for the chance to try cases. James Steele (Anson Mount) is the relentlessly tough boss. Christina Finn (Julianne Nicholson) is the tightly wound prosecutor stumbling through her first case.

Conviction is minor Wolf, diffused and slick. He overstuffs the premiere with characters and cases, then takes awkward detours into private lives. Conviction strives to be frisky with tepid results. The main issue in one sexual liaison is the dark, confusing photography. How's that for hot?

With time, Wolf might fix these problems. He explores the law with more finesse than the personal stuff. But his Law & Order: Trial by Jury, a stronger drama, failed last year after only a half season.

In catering to youth this time, Wolf has delivered a ho-hum show.

Hal Boedeker writes for the Orlando Sentinel.

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