Lowe tries another ensemble drama in NBC’s ‘The Lyon’s Den’
Rob Lowe thought he was the star of “The West Wing” until Martin Sheen signed on and the rest of the cast proved they had the acting muscle to become one of the best ensembles on television. Lowe was naive to think he would be the only standout. So he left. Now he headlines his own legal drama, “The Lyon’s Den.”
Lowe portrays Jack Turner, a lawyer who runs a small pro-bono legal clinic. The clinic operates under the guidance of a large legal firm called Lyon, LaCrosse and Levine. When the managing partner commits suicide, Jack is hand-picked by the head of the firm, Terrence Christianson (James Pickens Jr.), to take his place. When Jack refuses,
Christianson threatens to close the clinic.
Unbeknownst to Jack, he is becoming enmeshed in a dangerous scheme. Everyone is plotting to control him. There is a question looming whether Barrington, the man who committed suicide, was involved in a fraud scheme that is being investigated by federal agencies.
Grant Rashton (Kyle Chandler), another partner at the firm, had his eyes on Barrington’s job. He is willing to do anything to push Jack out of the way. He will even use his lover, and co-worker, Ariel Saxon (Elizabeth Mitchell) to spy on him. Grant is also helped by his devious assistant Brit Hanley (Frances Fisher).
There is also a question as to what role Jack’s father played in his new promotion. Harlan M. Turner (Rip Torn) is a U.S. senator who does not understand his son’s devotion to helping the poor. Jack and Harlan do not get along. But Jack is willing to turn to his father when he needs a presidential order to help a client.
Jack’s friend and co-counsel at the clinic. George Riley (Matt Craven). is also willing to use Jack. He pushes Jack to take the promotion so the clinic can stay open and he can keep a job.
“Stop thinking of yourself for one second,” Riley yells at Jack. But isn’t his insistence that Jack take the job really Riley thinking of himself?
Jack is such a good guy that he’s bland. He’s always polite and plays by the rules. Lowe has always been a better actor when he played parts that require a little nastiness. Jack can’t continue to be this naive or he will be consumed by his colleagues and there won’t be a show.
The plots also need help. Riley works a case concerning a mentally challenged man accused of rape and murder. Jack represents a Nigerian woman who is seeking asylum in the United States. Both cases have a twist at the end, but neither one makes sense. Both outcomes do not reflect the characters previous actions and are unrealistic.
After ignoring the circumstances surrounding Barrington’s death, Jack is suddenly questioning whether he was murderedâ¢ Whyâ¢ There is no evidence or the slightest suggestion that someone killed the man. There is only the law firm’s refusal to talk with the police. But Jack also refused an interview with the homicide detective.
“The Lyon’s Den” needs to decide if it will be a soap opera or a legal drama. It will be difficult to combine the two. It also needs sharper writing that will add some realism to the fantastic schemes on which the show has been built.
‘The Lyon’s Den’
10 p.m. Tonight, NBC