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I assume the opinion on Bryan Cranston is strongly consensus are better at this point; the actor who started as a comic Dad then moved to a much more serious one on (Breaking Bad) that earned voluminous praise and awards has slowly continued elevating his talents, mostly acting in movies with television show work scattered throughout, with the latest one being Your Honor, an adaptation of an Israeli miniseries.
Cranston plays Michael Desiato, a New Orleans judge whose law interpretation is matched only by his compassion on the bench. Near the anniversary of his wife's death, his son Adam (Hunter Doohan) is involved in a hit and run, resulting in the death of a young boy. But the boy is the son of Jimmy Butler (Michael Stuhlbarg, A Serious Man), a powerful gangster who is a major crime figure in the city. Adam returns home and admits to what he does, and Michael does what he can to cover up the crime for the sake of his child, only to find that the lengths he'd go to do so go far beyond anything he may have been expecting.
The show sets up the premise early and convincingly, in no small part due to Cranston's work in it, and Stuhlbarg's work as a grief-stricken father buttresses this, combined with Jimmy's wife Gina (Hope Davis, American Splendor). Jimmy and Gina have two other children, one is in jail while the other is finishing high school, both of whom play a part in the show as things continue. Isiah Whitlock Jr. (The Wire) plays Charlie, a childhood friend of Michael's who is running for Mayor and who has extensive ties to law enforcement. Other familiar faces with lesser roles in the series include Margo Martindale (The Americans) plays Michael's mother in law, Maura Tierney (Newsradio) comes into the second half of the season as an ambitious and effective District Attorney.
Pretty respectable ensemble, right? So what exactly is going on with this show? Which is to say it reaches for the implausibility stuff early and often. To be fair, some of the things that go on are logical, given the culture in 21st century America and such, but it builds on it with little purpose other than to serve a plot arc. Or in some moments, comes across as unintentionally funny. For example, there's a scene in the show's seventh or eighth episode which includes Michael, Adam and the family dog that I wish (if Joel McHale ever did it again) kind of appeared on The Soup when Joel McHale hosted it years ago. The problem is that scene appeared on the teen show One Tree Hill, and the place for it in Your Honor makes it silly, and that's presuming you get that far with the show.
As Your Honor keeps going and going with these tactics and gets closer to the end, you hope that it comes to some sort of satisfying conclusion, and perhaps the last scene does give you that emotional closure if you take a step back from it. Like a lot of other things in the show, that it gets to the point that it does is cheap and quick, and rather than focus on the character stuff there is so much sensationalist exposition to get to that point and other points throughout the show, that it's hollow, and that behavior saturates the entire show.
Given the broader human portions of the show, and the actors involved with it, you would expect Your Honor to focus and deliver on those moments, but they get lost in a show that seems to not know what to do with the ample space that it has. Perhaps it's a better show if it were say, eight or even six episodes, but like similar shows like it, Your Honor tries to do everything and does nothing at all as a result.The Discs:
The show's ten-episode run is spread over three discs, all presented in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen and look good. The color palette of the show is a little muted, more grays, blacks and reds than I would have expected, but they all look sharp and a late episode where a bunch of people ride bicycles with lighted wheels comes through nicely. All in all this is a solid reproduction of what was presumably an HD effort.The Sound:
Dolby Digital 5.1 surround which comes through a bit better than you'd expect. Gunfire is powerful through the soundstage, and the show's first episode car crash also includes some subwoofer engagement. Dialogue is consistent and environmental sound (music, crowd noise, etc.) sounds effective and immersive, and the show is strong technically.Extras:
Three deleted scenes (7:37) on episodes 1 and 6 of the show, and that's it.Final Thoughts:
Few things make me more exasperated than a production with a lot of people I like in it, all coming together to do something so…underwhelming, and that's what I came away from after sitting through almost nine and a half hours of Your Honor. Technically the show is solid, and the lack of extras isn't surprising, and goodness knows I didn't miss them. If you're going to watch Bryan Cranston on a serious show, go binge Breaking Bad again.