I’ve been seeing the commercials for Goliath for a while now. With me, Billy Bob Thornton can be hit or miss – definitely a hit in this show.
Thornton plays Billy McBride, a once-powerful attorney who co-founded one of the biggest firms in Los Angeles who now lives in a fleabag motel and spends most of his time drinking to excess in the bar next door or taking public defender type cases. His ex-wife is a partner at the firm he helped found, and his daughter barely has a relationship with him.
When another lawyer, Patty Solis-Papagian, asks him to help her settle a case she has involving his old firm, McBride gets fired up. It puts him in direct conflict with Donald Cooperman: McBride’s partner in founding Cooperman McBride, and the hatred between the two characters is strong. The case is about a man who died in a boat explosion. His sister things he was killed, but officially it was ruled a suicide. The deeper McBride digs, the weirder things get. Someone is following him. His witnesses keep having things happen to them to keep them from testifying, and McBride himself is pulled over by a cop, beaten, arrested and can do nothing while his daughter is shot with a taser for trying to help him.
The drama in this one is high, and good.
McBride is a broken character to say the least, and we don’t find out what broke him until several episodes into the season. He makes bad decisions and people get hurt. David E. Kelley – known for other, network lawyer shows such as Ally McBeal, The Practice and Boston Legal to name just a few – definitely put his stamp on this show. You can see it in the attitudes of the lawyers and the humor. It feels like the kind of lawyer/legal drama he’s always wanted to do but couldn’t cuz you can’t cuss on network tv.
Thornton delivers a great performance as McBride, but it also feels like a lot of the characters he’s done over the years. He might be a one-trick pony like Will Ferrel. Maria Bello plays Michelle McBride, Billy’s ex-wife and though I always like her as an actress, this role doesn’t give her enough to do. Most of her interactions are with Callie Senate (Molly Parker), another lawyer at the firm in a relationship with Michelle that, in my opinion, is toxic. She spends a lot of time attempting to manipulate Michelle. Donald Cooperman runs the firm up against McBride, and is played by John Hurt. Cooperman is disfigured by burns on his face and body, and spends most of his time as a recluse in the penthouse above the firm like a spider, watching camera feeds of everything and everyone, doing everything he can to bring McBride down, humiliate him, crush him.
Goliath sucked me in very quickly, but then, I’m a sucker for these kinds of legal dramas. There’s only the one case for the whole season, but there’s tons of twists and turns throughout that keep it feeling fresh as McBride digs deeper and deeper.