Creator – Peter Moffat
Cast – Bryan Cranston, Michael Stuhlbarg, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Hope Davis, Hunter Doohan, Carmen Ejogo
Your Honor reaches a climax in its first episode. More precisely, it peaks within the first act of the first episode. That is worrying, because the 10-hour Showtime works – mentioned as Bryan Cranston’s brilliant return to television – spend the rest of the time struggling to reach that initial high.
It’s a little strange for Cranston to choose this as his television return vehicle, after Breaking Bad ended its historic run seven years ago. They are very similar – not just thematic, but stylistically too. It gives the impression that Cranston is not as much returning to his roots as he is in compliance with what the audience expects of him. His stint as a film star earned him considerable acclaim (and an Oscar nomination), but crucially, little box office success as a leading man.
Watch Your Honor trailer here
In Your Honor, he plays a likeable New Orleans judge named Michael Desiato, who is still recovering from his wife’s recent death, and learns to be a single parent to his teenage son, Adam. Michael is a drama queen at court – in an early scene, we see him drop a Black woman accused of drug pushing by first commenting on the effect her imprisonment will have on her young children , and then by poaching holes in the arresting officer’s evidence. The point is made: Michael Desiato is a Good Man, ready to do the Right Thing.
But his morals are brutally threatened when Adam, while driving in a fit of anxiety, gets involved in hitting and running. When he comes clean to his father, Michael’s initial reaction is to take him to the police and tell them the truth. However, he abandons this plan at the last minute when he learns that the young man who died in the accident was none other than the son of a local crime lord.
This is when the show begins to get off the rails a bit, and becomes dangerously close to resembling a Hollywood version of Drishyam, or perhaps the abermal Breathe: Into the Shadows. How far would you go to protect your child? That is the question these stories ask.
After the sequence of the accident – filmed with great patience and skill by director Edward Berger – the show becomes too addicted to plot machines itself, thus committing the gravestone crime it may have had : on the side of the ethical dilemma in favor of shock and awe and fear.
The reason why Breaking Bad succeeded – or, at least one of the reasons why it did – and things like Your Honor and Drishyam and Breathe do not, because Breaking Bad completely embraced Walter White’s descent into madness. He made no doubt about the fact that, most likely, he was a psychopath. But Your Honor – and Drishyam, and Breathe – insist that their main characters are Good Men, ready to do the Right Thing.
Cranston’s performance is past – he plays Michael more like a man scrambling his way through the situation than the more clinical characters played by Ajay Devgn, Mohanlal and Abhishek Bachchan in those other stories. He is surrounded by a strong cast, including Isiah Witlock Jr., who plays Michael’s childhood friend, Charlie, who is running for Parliament; Amy Landecker as an overachiever detective, who may or may not suspect something; and the excellent Michael Stuhlbarg, who plays the bereaved gangster Jimmy Baxter with a proper threat.
Read Also: Breathe Review Into the Shadows: Inexperienced and illogical, Amazon’s bizarre show lets Abhishek Bachchan, Amit Sadh down
But these characters are just pawns – poorly defined and thinly written by creator Peter Moffat. More often than not, they make decisions that are completely unbelievable, just to advance the plot or to timely spin. The show may be grounded as it progresses, and expand on the socio-cultural commentary it seeks to inject into the story – only the first four episodes were provided for this review – but the foundation laid is shaky, at best.
The show will stream on Voot Select in India, and will also air on Zee Café.But in the meantime, you might want to check out Jacob’s Defense, the underground and undervalued Apple TV + miniseries with Chris Evans, who n dealing with similarities. more credible ideas.