Philly Articles

 

PHILLY (Review)

Author/s: Phil Gallo
Issue: Sept 24, 2001 Variety

PHILLY (SERIES; ABC, TUES. SEPT. 25,10 P.M.)

Filmed in Culver City, Calif., by Steven Bochco Prods. in association with Paramount Network Television. Executive producers, Steven Bochco, Kevin Hooks, Rick Wallace; co-executive producer, Alison Cross; producer, Bernadette Caulfield, Dayna Kalins Bochco; co-producer, Lisa I. Vinnecour; director, Hooks; writer, Cross; camera, Sharone Meir; production designer, Paul Eads; editor, Jane Kass; music, Mike Post; casting, June Lowry Johnson, Scott Genkinger. 60 MIN.

Kathleen Maguire Kim Delaney

Will Froman Tom Everett Scott

Daniel X. Cavanaugh Kyle Secor

Terry Loomis Rick Hoffman

Patricia Diana-Maria Riva

Patrick Cavanaugh Scotty Leavenworth

With: Joanna Cassidy, James Pickens Jr., Darryl Thierse, Nicki Mieheaux, Phil LaMarr, Kristanna Loken, Robert Harper, Ron Canada, Alan Blumenfeld, Dena Dietrich Jennifer Parsons.

Two worlds butt heads in "Philly": the newfangled, life-on-the-edge law-firm drama propagated by David E. Kelley in "The Practice" and the oh-so-familiar handheld single-camera drama that bears the Steven Bochco stamp. A legal drama that finds the newly divorced Kathleen Maguire (Kim Delaney) faking on "Practice"-like ne'er-do-wells, "Philly" is a vast improvement over Bochco's last two series, "City of Angels" and "Brooklyn South." But it lacks a distinctive tone, something that would set it apart from Bochco's work yet still be identifiable as uniquely his. The veneer here is pure "NYPD Blue" as Delaney takes the Metroliner south to legal settings as grimy as "Blue's" Manhattan squad room.

Unlike "Blue" or "The Practice," public acceptance of "Philly" will be dependent on the appeal of Delaney and her character, a woman forcefully candid one moment, inexplicably driven the next. There's no questioning her determination -- just as her Diane on "Blue" was possessed with desire to set things right -- and her considerable ability to play that trait is certainly maximized in Kevin Hooks' direction and Alison Cross' script.

The character is not that far from Diane save for her straightened hair, the subtlest of signs that we're not in New York anymore. Big difference in the City of Brotherly Love, though, is that the males around her couldn't be less caring. Her ex-husband is the vengeful and bitter Daniel X. Cavanaugh (Kyle Secor, playing way against type), whose temper escalated to battery and crushed their marriage. Their son, Patrick (Scotty Leavenworth), is a human tetherball being swung from side to side with no results; his attitude toward mom is resentful and negative, dad is Mr. Fun, no matter how devious he may in truth be behind Kathleen's back.

The new man in her life is Will Froman (Tom Everett Scott), a bubbly womanizer and attorney looking for a quick buck and easy sex. He sets down on Maguire in the pilot following the embarrassing in-court breakdown of her partner -- another Bochco imprint: Shock'em in the first 10 minutes of the season -- and soon is representing more dregs than she knows how to handle. Collectively they take on an enormous caseload and their friction starts in segment two when he is suddenly representing the local king of kiddie porn.