Every night I stream something on my laptop for about an hour before turning in for the night. I've read all the articles that say watching TV (or any screen) before bed is bad for your sleep cycle and overall health, but you know what, I need to do it in order to relax. Take that, internet.
For the past two months I haven't been interested in watching any new shows, opting to crawl into bed with familiar characters I already know and love. In February I re-watched the entire Parenthood series (cue the tears) and for the past few weeks I've been flying through the first two seasons of Friday Night Lights (for the fifth time).
This past weekend I found myself with a wide open Saturday. Since it was freezing outside, I decided this would be the perfect day to stream something totally new (and hopefully finish it). I checked out my watch lists for Netflix and Amazon and ultimately decided on Goliath, the Amazon original series starring Billy Bob Thornton. You may remember that Billy Bob won the Golden Globe in January for Best Actor in a Drama Series.
The first season (it was just renewed for a second) is eight episodes, each one hour long. The story is set in Los Angeles where Billy Bob Thornton plays another Billy, Billy McBride, who has fallen from grace. Once a powerful attorney and the co-founder of global law firm Cooperman McBride, Billy has lost his position at the firm, lost his wife and lost his way.
In an interview with Deadline, Thornton was asked why he was attracted to this role and how he felt about playing an attorney. He replied, "A lawyer’s trying to convince a jury, and an actor’s trying to convince an audience. I’d always wanted to play a lawyer, but mainly I wanted to play a guy who’s had to fight his way back from nowhere. I certainly related to the character.”
I found myself rooting for Billy McBride. Even though he lives in a dingy Venice Beach motel, he forgets to check on his teenage daughter and he clearly drinks too much, you want him to come out on top. In each episode he winds up running into the same stray dog who he takes care of by snagging her food or letting her sleep in his motel room. Maybe I've become a sucker since I adopted Scout, but for me, that humanized him more than his interactions with any other character.
In the review of the show by the Hollywood Reporter, critic Daniel Fienberg comments, "What keeps Goliath watchable, and it's certainly quite watchable, is the superlative ensemble cast, particularly Billy Bob Thornton, whose gift at taking predictably quirky characters and making the beats of that quirkiness slightly off-kilter is close to unmatched. . . I don't know if we have any actor better when it comes to illustrating the slow shift and rev of intellectual gears than Thornton, whose transition from sloppy and laconic to sharp and venal is always a pleasure to behold."
Billy's wife, Michelle, is played by Maria Bello. Despite their divorce, Michelle has remained a partner at Cooperman McBride and a close confidante to Billy's arch nemesis, Donald Cooperman. I love Maria Bello and though she didn't get much screen time over the eight episodes, she makes a big impact when she does appear.
Donald Cooperman, the show's villain, is brought to life by actor William Hurt, a graduate of Tufts University right here in Somerville, MA. The Donald Cooperman character is pure evil. He sexually harasses his female employees, plays dirty with opposing council and hires all kinds of shady henchmen as his enforcers.
He is particularly demonic is his manipulation of a young attorney, Lucy. Lucy is played by Olivia Thirlby, who looks like a slightly lankier Anne Hathaway.
Donald Cooperman's second in command is Callie Senate, played by Molly Parker. Parker is best know for her roles as Alma Garret on Deadwood and Jackie Sharp in House of Cards. In Goliath, Callie is a heartless, power hungry, alpha dog. She gets sincere pleasure from torturing Billy McBride in the courtroom.
The few moments of humor and levity in this courtroom drama come from Billy McBride's co-counsel, Patty Solis-Papagian. Patty is played by Nina Arianda. In The New York Times review of the show, Mike Hale writes, ". . . Nina Arianda will continue to be the best reason to watch the show. She’s fearless and hilarious as the low-rent lawyer and real estate agent who drags McBride into the case."
The final three episodes also have cameos from the adorable Jason Ritter, who I am always happy to see.
The show was co-created by David E. Kelly and Jonathan Shapiro. David E. Kelley has a history of courtroom dramas - L.A. Law, Ally McBeal, The Practice and Boston Legal. If you liked those shows, you will feel right at home with this one.
What I loved about Goliath was that it kept me guessing. Could Billy win a case against his old firm? Would he and Donald have an all out brawl? I have watched a lot of these types of shows and I was surprised by the outcome.
I also loved the intentional setting, Los Angeles. If you watched the show on mute it could easily be a love letter to Venice Beach.
Tell me, have you watched Goliath? What did you think? Will you tune in for a second season?