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TV Series Review

What do young Manhattan lawyers have to do with The Flying Tomato? Everything, if you're NBC. To create buzz for courtroom drama Conviction, the network used its coverage of the Winter Olympics to batter viewers with a blizzard of 30-second promos. Fans of speed skating, luge and Alpine skiing learned that "the average age of a New York assistant district attorney is only 28." Target demographic identified. The spots then touted "young prosecutors with one thing in common: conviction."

This series tries to combine the quirkiness of Boston Legal with the zippy youngblood feel of Grey's Anatomy. The result is yet another Law & Order spin-off (L&O: Criminal Intent, L&O: Special Victims Unit). In fact, the cast of characters includes Special Victims Unit leftover Alexandria Cabot (Stephanie March), who assumes the position of New York City assistant district attorney after another ADA is killed in a case-related shooting. So far, Cabot hasn't gotten much screen time, leaving the rest of her dysfunctional group to dominate the story line.

There's Nick (Jordan Bridges), the rookie enduring endless initiation jokes; Brian (Eric Balfour), the smooth-talking womanizer with a dark side; Christina (Julianne Nicholson), his assistant; and the self-serving Billy (J. August Richards), who dumps long-shot cases on colleagues just to keep his courtroom record perfect. Meanwhile, star attorneys Jim (Anson Mount) and Jessica (Milena Govich) carry on a no-strings-attached, sex-only fling that gets pretty steamy, even for the show's late time slot.

Like most lawyer dramas, Conviction presents a new lineup of extreme cases each week. But what could potentially separate this series from the pack is just how far its creators are willing to push the sensationalism. An early account involves a college coed who smuggled cocaine out of Costa Rica by swallowing 12 condoms full of the powder. When one burst and the young woman began overdosing, her drug pusher sliced open her stomach to save his stash. Another episode features a 14-year-old who, after years of abuse from his older brother, took a baseball bat to his sibling's head—repeatedly.

Beyond describing the gory details of each case, Conviction follows the now-standard crime show routine by showing gruesome photographs and bloody crime scenes, often with re-enactments. That, along with frequent foul language and the occasional sex scene, make it clear that, for all of their conviction, executive producer Dick Wolf and his crew lack discretion.

Episodes Reviewed: March 3, 10, 2006

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Marcus Yoars

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