We know Goliath. We see this show coming. Every year there’s a show trotted out to us exactly like it.
Scroll over the Amazon synopsis and roll your eyes. Goliath is nothing new. But nothing new given to the right group of talent and you end up with an entertaining eight hours of content that you wished there was another season of.
Picture a mopey, down and out lawyer, drinks more than he should, has that tv show handsome drunk sheen and the bunk attitude that comes with it. You’d call to mind Better Call Saul or Fox’s ill-timed Greg Kinnear Vehicle, Rake. You wouldn’t be wrong. Battling selfish tendencies, a once untouchable lawyer, is now in the gutter looking to make a comeback: Goliath.
All of this would feel rote and overdone if it wasn’t for Billy Bob Thornton. Him along with a few other notable performances, turn a simple fishy death cum season long courtroom drama, into a television show worth watching.
The twists and turns are justly so, and at eight episodes long Goliath never overstays it’s welcome, wrapping up the various loose ends in such a way that’s believable but not hackneyed. A lot of this is due to David E. Kelley, effectively the show runner and a talent behind everything from Boston Legal to Ally McBeal and his producer partner Jonathan Shapiro. It’s a lot of experience brought to the production and it shows in dialogue that Thornton and company chew the fuck out of throughout.
It’s certainly a great grab for Amazon and their “content war,” with Netlfix and every other network with a need for blue chip high profile show. And thankfully, it seems, Amazon left creative license with the creators. So while there’s certainly clichéd elements and far too many one liners for these performances to feel human (Save Thornton who I truly believe is this scuzzy and loveable off-screen) all of it somehow works.
A lot of the information in the early episodes is teased out as is expected, but in a way that respects the audience. A few red herrings muddy the water just enough so that I truly didn’t trust my gut on who I thought did what, till much later that is per usual with this type of show.
I do need to talk about the other two stand alone performances, if just for a second. William Hurt gives a sadistic turn as a true force of malevolence throughout. A perpetual vampire who abhors sunlight and seemingly never leaves his office. It’s preposterous but fucking awesome, with Hurt selling every inch of the script he’s given.
The other standout, Maria Bello notwithstanding (because please, it’s Maria Bello) is the young foul mouthed upstart lawyer who becomes Thornton's unwilling sidekick, played by Nina Arianda. What starts out as a stock character down to her traits: impulsive, short temper etc. Morphs into a more fleshed out character thanks to Arianda.
So if you’re looking for a crime show that’s more than a case of the week, and can deliver often cheesy dialogue with panache and the correct emphasis on every variation of “fuck,” you can’t really go wrong with Goliath. Is it going to melt your brain with its genre bending scenes? Of course not. Neither is it going to bore you and waste your time. Goliath is a great legal thriller that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.
Goliath: On a rainy afternoon, settle down with a bag of popcorn and prepare for an entertaining eight hours of really stupid smart people, manipulating the justice system.