Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show — here Conviction — in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.
The Pedigree: The show was created by Liz Friedlander (The Secret Circle) and Liz Friedman (Jessica Jones), who executive produce with Mark Gordon (Criminal Minds). The pilot was written by Friedman and directed by Friedlander.
The Cast & How You Know Them: Conviction stars Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter) and Eddie Cahill (CSI: NY), along with Shawn Ashmore (The Following), Merrin Dungey (Alias), Emily Kinney (The Walking Dead), Manny Montana (Graceland), and Daniel Franzese (Looking).
The Premise: Wild former First Daughter Hayes Morrison (Atwell) tries to avoid arrest and scandal by accepting a job heading the new Conviction Integrity Unit to investigate and potentially overturn questionable convictions.
What Works: Atwell and Cahill have very good chemistry, and there’s a formal dancing scene in the pilot. I love a good dancing scene. I’m moderately interested in some of the supporting characters’ backstories, and I like that the team works for the city rather than an independent organization like the Innocence Project — I think it opens up some interesting opportunities that the show may or may not take. I’m definitely in favor of a show that raises awareness of wrongful convictions and other problems with the criminal justice system, but I’m not sure this is the show to do it.
What Doesn’t: This just … isn’t very good, so far. The writing is pretty weak and a lot of the conflict feels artificial, down to the arbitrary five-day timeframe the team has to solve each case. I talked about this a bit in my post about Notorious earlier this season, but while I don’t need main characters to be likable, I do need them to be interesting or for the show to provide some other huge hook, and this just isn’t there yet. I actually do like the fact that the show didn’t make Atwell a do-gooder doing this because she wants to, but they need to get her past the one-dimensional “Look, isn’t she terrible???” very quickly to keep my interest.
Our Favorite Line: “Let me guess. Rough day. Someone had feelings, which you hate.”
You Might Like This if you like soapy legal dramas — it’s clearly trying to be Scandal meets Serial.
(Photo courtesy of ABC.)