‘Bluff City Law’ Pilot: Family Tension Is The Best Defense


The 2019 fall TV season is in full swing. It has begun in earnest and with it the race to earn ratings, and receive a sophomore season pick up is happening. On NBC, one of their debuts is Bluff City Law, a family law drama with a familiar lead, and an interesting premise.

Bluff City Law (2019) Pilot Review

Corporate law is what Sydney Strait (Caitlin McGee) is good at – really good. She’s full of fierce passion, and for the large corporations she represents, she gets results. Then, her father, Elijah (Jimmy Smits) walks into her office. Sydney has an intense hatred for her well respected father, who also happens to be a lawyer. But he arrives at her impressive office with the news her mother has died. This means Sydney has to tolerate him as she returns home to attend her mother’s services.

In the aftermath of saying goodbye, Elijah makes his daughter a proposition; return to work with him at his law firm. He wants her to use all of that fire and passion for the good, like his latest case defending a man who’s ill from a product that didn’t disclose the risks. Reluctantly Sydney agrees, but even with a win on the defense side, when new secrets from her father’s past surface, she again distances herself from this man she once thought infallible.

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There’s always a kind of “ebb and flow” when it comes to new TV shows. From my experience, I have to see 3-5 episodes before I decide whether or not I’m going to “keep up” with something. (It has to be really bad for me to leave it at one episode.) Often the pilot (first episode) is shot months in advance of follow up episodes since it’s this that allows the writers to work out any minor flaws or distractions (while its screened), and is for this reason why I stick with something a few episodes in.

Bluff City Law doesn’t really have any glaring things wrong with its pilot episode, and seems to be something I’ll definitely tune in for future episodes (update: I have!). Will I long-term stay with it? Who knows! (Update: pretty sure I will… at least for now.) I always have way too many shows going at a time, so sometimes there’s a few that suffer. What pulls me into this one is the dynamic between Sydney and her father. This is more than just a dysfunctional family.

Their father-daughter relationship is wrought with tension, heartbreak, hurt and as Sydney tells him, “hate.” From his perspective, Elijah does love his daughter, but her intense dislike and distrust of him keeps him away. It isn’t until they work together that we see the tiny crack in her armor. Whether or not it will grow throughout season one remains to be seen, but either way, their relationship is definitely a draw.

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The entire cast is really quite impressive. I don’t remember seeing Caitlin in anything, but she plays a lead role quite well, and I’m impressed with her range of emotions. Jimmy Smits is, of course, a well-known actor from many roles, but one of his most famous is NYPD Blue. Also part of the cast is Josh Kelley, Barry Sloane (from Revenge and Longmire), and Jayne Atkinson. All around, an impressive group that makes good character “first impressions.”

In conclusion, Bluff City Law certainly piques my interest. I’m not much for a law drama, but this one seems like something I could become attached to. It’s early days, which means I hesitate to say one way or another, but these early episodes (at this point, I’ve seen four) are solid; this one reminds me, somehow, of the short-lived Reckless, which I recently binged. It has more of a romantic component, but something about it (perhaps the Southern setting?) reminds me of this new NBC drama. Either way, I’m curious as to what this might evolve into.

‘Bluff City Law’ Pilot: Family Tension Is The Best Defense. Review of the NBC 2019 show, '#BluffCityLaw' with Jimmy Smits. #TVShow #BluffCityLawNBC Click To Tweet
‘Bluff City Law’ Pilot: Family Tension Is The Best Defense. Review of the NBC 2019 show, 'Bluff City Law' with Jimmy Smits. Text © Rissi JC

CONTENT: There’s some minor profanity, lots of thematic elements (and “hot topics” social issues), discussion of an affair, and likely in future episodes, there may be some sexual content. For now, the episodes are TV-PG or -14, depending on the subject.

Photos: NBC

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


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