The Complete Series
The 2006 NBC television series Conviction aired in March 2006 and finished in May 2006. The series had a meager thirteen episodes to its credit and was not renewed for an additional season. The series comes from creator and executive producer Dick Wolf, who has made a huge name for himself by being the creative mind behind the very popular crime dramas Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and Law & Order: Trial By Jury. Wolf's latest television enterprise is Conviction, which is set in the same world as the Law & Order series, but takes a much different approach in its format and content as an attempt to gain the attention of a younger audience. The series is based on a group of young assistant district attorneys who are overworked. The show focuses on their lives as they struggle their maddening cases, hardships, and personal lives. In effect, the series is about the characters and not the criminals and cases. There is plenty of drama surrounding them as they juggle their lives from the personal and professional perspectives.
Headlining the cast is a familiar face, Stephanie March. March reprises her Law & Order: Special Victims Unit role of ADA Alexandra Cabot. Cabot served as the Special Victims Unit's ADA from the beginning of season two to midway season five. In the episode "Loss", Cabot was forced into witness protection after the Columbia drug cartel made an attempt on her life. Cabot made another appearance in the season six episode "Ghost" that tied into her original disappearance. At the end of the episode, she went back into hiding. Years later, Cabot returns from witness protection in Conviction (no explanation about her return) as the Bureau Chief in charge a group of brash, yet talented and overtaxed ADAs.
Directly under Cabot is Jim Steele (Anson Mount). He is the Deputy District Attorney who is responsible for the young ADAs. His duties also take him into the courtroom more often than not. He is a good guy and has a personal relationship with one of the ADAs. Jessica Rossi (Milena Govich) is the young ADA involved with Steele on more than a professional basis. She is a determined ADA willing to do what is necessary to get the job done. Billy Desmond (J. August Richards) is a smart, career-motivated ADA. He has a perfect record in court and he wants to keep it that way.
Nick Potter (Jordan Bridges) is the new addition to the office of young ADAs. In the series pilot, he begins his first day. He is an average law student from NYU who spent the last year at one of the top law firms earning a six figure salary. He comes to the DA's office to because he wants to try cases. Christina Finn (Julianne Nicholson) is a two year veteran with little experience in litigation. She is unsure of her abilities, but over the course of the season becomes a shining star. Lastly is Brian Peluso (Eric Balfour), a womanizer and gambler. He is a good looking guy who enjoys having fun, but he is also dedicated to his work.
All in all, Conviction has an interesting and somewhat diverse set of characters. Some of whom you will like and others you won't. In my case, I tended towards the latter. For the most part, the characters are generic. I liked a couple of the characters, Rossi and Steele, from the start. They are strong in their roles. Finn started off as a weak character, but as she developed as an ADA and person, she became a much better character. Both Rossi (Govich) and Finn (Nicholson) will be seen in the near future with other Dick Wolf productions. Govich will make a jump into the original Law & Order series in its seventeenth season as detective Nina Cassady. She replaces Dennis Farina. Nicholson joins the cast of Law & Order: Criminal Intent in season six as detective Megan Wheeler. She replaces Annabella Sciorra. It will be interesting to see both Govich and Nicholson as cops instead of lawyers.
The unfortunate news is the characters are what drive this series, and not having a large batch of really strong and interesting characters made Conviction somewhat unappealing. Perhaps unappealing is a bit strong, as the series has merit and the occasionally interesting development, but in the end it leaves you with little and you most likely will not care what happens to the cast next. In short, Conviction is entertaining enough for a single watch, but has little to keep you coming back for more.
The series begins with the episode "Pilot", and kudos to the writers and crew for putting it together. While the series pilot episode does not prove to be a gripping and intense introduction to Conviction, it still handled the introduction of its cast well. With a fairly large number of characters to focus on, it does a fine job at giving you a chance to get to know them and understand who they are and what they are about. The major plotline is about a drug smuggling case, a witness who is afraid to testify, and the murder of deputy district attorney Mike Randolph (Elias Koteas). It is a shame Koteas' role in series had to end in the pilot episode, because he made a very convincing district attorney.
The remaining episodes continue to focus on the characters and a little about the cases they are involved in. Some of the notable storylines includes the love affair between Rossi and Steele, which becomes public knowledge in the episode "Deliverance". The matter is slightly complicated with some heat between Cabot and Steele in "Savasana". Another interesting storyline comes from the two-part series finale "180.80 (2)" and "Hostage", where a routine murder trial turns into a hostage situation when the accused killers take control of the courtroom and hold some of the young ADAs as hostages. For the most part, the other storylines fail to be really appealing. Subplots like Potter dealing with the emotional aftermath of being beaten and mugged, Peluso deciding to move in his with cheating girlfriend, and Desmond fighting to keep his perfect track record intact offer very little intrigue. In the overall scheme of things, it makes for some dull material.
Overall, Conviction offers a character oriented drama about the professional and personal lives of several young New York ADAs with little experience and demanding cases. The drama that comes from the situations they commonly find themselves in can be entertaining, but more often than not tend to be mildly interesting or lackluster. Conviction has little to pull you in and keep you wanting more, but has enough drama to make for a decent watch.