Is Jimmy Smits’ Reputation Enough To Save NBC’s ‘Outlaw’?

by | September 15, 2010 at 10:12 AM | Fall TV Preview 2010, TV News

Jimmy Smits in 'Outlaw,' which sneak previews Wednesday at 10/9c (NBC)

Jimmy Smits in 'Outlaw,' which sneak previews Wednesday at 10/9c (NBC)

NBC’s ‘Outlaw,’ which gets a sneak preview Wednesday at 10/9c before settling into its Fridays-at-10 slot, is not without its problems.

There, we said it. Even the show’s bosses acknowledge that the premise – a Supreme Court justice (played by ‘L.A. Law’ and ‘NYPD Blue’ alum Jimmy Smits), fed up with kowtowing to political agendas, steps down from the bench to return to private practice – is a tricky sell. And we haven’t even mentioned that this veteran jurist, Cyrus Garza, is a unabashed gambler and playboy.

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‘Outlaw’ is “a unique legal show,” says executive producer John Eisendrath. “The point-of-view character on this show is unlike [that] on another legal show you’ll ever see.” As for Garza’s righteous decision to simply up and quit the Supremes, the producer admits, “It is in some ways a little bit of a fantasy.”

EP David Kissinger also cops to taking “a certain amount of license” in spinning this tale of a skirt-chasing card-counter sitting atop the legal food chain. “But the reality is there were colorful Supreme Court Justices. [P]eople like William O. Douglas, who we talked a lot about in the development of this, had some very Garza-like qualities. So it’s not as far-fetched as [people think].”

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Helping – hoping? – to bridge any leaps of faith is the casting of Smits, who with him brings immeasurable audience goodwill due to his runs on some of TV’s best remembered drama series.

As such, Smits says that he feels a “pressure” to sell viewers on this largely improbable scenario. But he is staking his faith in the “opportunity to deal with legal matters and hot-button issues that are substantive… but at the same time, have a character that is outside the box in a lot of different ways.”

Rounding out the cast as Garza’s telegenic legal team are Carly Pope (‘Popular’), here playing an ever-so-slight variation on ‘The Good Wife’s Kalinda; Jesse Bradford (‘Flags Of Our Fathers’), David Ramsey (‘Dexter’) and Ellen Woglom (‘Californication’).

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“John has created a really fascinating character that’s a challenge to play,” Smits adds. “It’s a wonderful meal for an actor… and it’s something different than what I’ve done before.”

Watch an ‘Outlaw’ preview here:

What do you say, Fancast fans: Is Smits’ pedigree enough to make you give ‘Outlaw’ a try?