Back in the day, I used to love watching Cold Case. The twists, the turns, the realization that something someone said was taken out of context, misinterpreted, and it led cops in one direction that ended up going nowhere. Some twenty years later, they get a new clue, a fresh perspective, something, and it leads them off in a new direction. Often, the solution starts with someone admitting something they knew back in the day but didn’t share…like maybe the dead guy might have been cheating, but his buddy didn’t want to drag it out and destroy the memory at the time, but now, 20 years later, he’s willing to share. Less emotional trauma.
Conviction has a bit of the same premise, but instead of a case that was never solved, these are ones where the case WAS solved…except the person claims, even years later, that they were and are innocent of the crime, despite having been convicted. These aren’t Innocence Project cases where DNA might save them, these are high intensity cases where the person was tried, convicted, and everyone went home to a good night’s sleep. Except the convicted still claims innocence. Not claiming “not guilty beyond reasonable doubt”, they’re still claiming they were completely innocent. So the D.A. in NYC creates a Criminal Integrity Unit to go back and look at the cases one more time. Five days of review, start to finish, see if there is any merit to the claim. And at the end of the five days, they either recommend the conviction be vacated, or that the case was likely solved correctly and the conviction stands. Note they aren’t overturning cases, it’s not a judicial appeal, it’s seeing if there is enough evidence to completely vacate the conviction.
So the premise, generally, is interesting to me. The rub is how they package it.
The premise is that a former President’s daughter (aka Chelsey Clinton mixed with Lindsay Lohan) got into a lot of trouble with the extra limelight growing up, went to law school, worked as a defense attorney and now teaches law. Busted for cocaine possession, she’s blackmailed into being the head for the new CIU. Of course, that’s not great news for the planned head, a former ADA with years of handling gang cases, or the other members of the team — an ex gangbanger who has expertise in forensics, a former witness who got an ID wrong when she was a kid, and a former police detective. She’s hoping to be a figurehead consulting from a beach, but her Mom is making a Senate run (aka Hillary) and wants her to clean up her act. Make it work for three years or they’ll prosecute her for intent to sell. At least that’s the premise.
Of course, you know by the end of the first episode she’s going to find her “calling” and passion and dig into the cases. Which she does. Of course, the actress (Hayley Atwell) is used to playing the hero — she’s been embodying Peggy Carter in the Marvel shows for several years now. I confess I liked her better as Peggy, but she has more available range here, which is either going to be great or just chaotic to watch. Eddie Cahill from CSI:NY plays the DA in charge of everything, but that’s not a huge plus for me…he was one of the weakest elements for me on CSI:NY.
Shawn Ashmore plays the ex-ADA in charge of gang cases, and I really like the Ashmore brothers. I think Aaron is awesome in Smallville and Killjoys, and everytime I see Shawn (the twin brother), I have to stop and remind myself it isn’t Aaron. Of course, when they are side by side, it’s obvious, but individually I think it is Aaron each time. I haven’t seen as much as Shawn’s work, but definitely a plus for me having him on the show.
Merrin Dungey, Emily Kinney, and Manny Montana round out the team, but they are all relatively new to full series status for me…although they were in other series, or guest starred on other shows, they weren’t on shows that I watched. I find all three a bit earnest in the first episode, but hopefully they’ll find their character.
When I did my early predictions, based on premise alone, I thought I would give it one episode, and I’m willing to come back for more. However, unless it kicks up the quality pretty fast or has some gravitas like Cold Case, I’m still holding on to my “half-season” prediction with no renewal.