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Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Your Honor 1.1: Taut Set-up



Your Honor debuted on Showtime on Sunday, with about as tight a set up as you're likely to find in a limited (ten-episode) cable TV series.

Here's what that is: Bryan Cranston plays a tough judge in New Orleans, a widower, with an asthmatic teenage son who goes off to lay a wreath at the site of his mother's death a year earlier.  He's upset, takes his eyes off the road to get his inhaler, and hits another teenage boy riding on the new motorcycle his parents bought him for his birthday.   Adam Desiato (the judge's son) tries unsuccessfully to revive the motorcyclist.  He leaves without calling the police, tells his father (Judge Michael Desiato) what happened, and the judge decides the best thing to do is to bring his son into the police.   Until the judge discovers that the slain boy is the son of one of the most vicious mobsters in the ward (or whatever exactly they call boroughs in the New Orleans).  Not only that, but this boy's father is played by Michael  Stuhlbarg.

So, we not only have a confrontation of good vs. evil -- or maybe, morally ambiguous vs. evil -- but the two sides are portrayed by two powerful actors.  Hunter Doohan as Adam is impressive too, as is just about everyone who opens their mouth in this taut, provocative start of a story.  The best kinds of conflicts, from a narrative standpoint, are those in which the two sides are evenly matched in terms of passion and justification for their position.   The judge wants to save his son.  The mobster wants to avenge his son.  Both are determined their goal will be achieved.  Nothing will stand in the way of either.

In one sense, Jimmy Baxter the mobster has the upper hand.  He's already a killer, and accustomed in the ways of doing this.   In contrast, His Honor, Judge Desiato, is used to following and interpreting the law.  But he'll do anything to save his son, and that no doubt is exactly what he'll have to do.

An excellent set-up, as I said, and I'll be back here next week a report on how it goes.

 

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