The Wright Verdicts

The British actor Tom Conti is a semi-familiar face in America for his work in feature films such as Reuben, Reuben and Shirley Valentine, and there are those of us who’ll forever admire his all-stops-out title performance in Alan Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests, shown on PBS in 1978. Now Conti comes to series TV in The Wright Verdicts (CBS, Fridays, 9-10 p.m.), playing a wily barrister transplanted to New York City. As Charles Wright, Conti wears expensive suits that emphasize a double chin Wright undoubtedly acquired dining in posh Manhattan eateries. He’s supposed to be a lovable character-a brazen showman of a lawyer-and Conti knows how to fill out Wright’s personality by giving him little conversational tics (he says, ”Ah, ah, ah, um” a lot to convey a Columbo-like false modesty). Aiding Wright is a detective who would be an annoyingly sarcastic brat were she not played by the endlessly likable Margaret Colin. Even so, Colin must wrestle with only half-ironic lines like, ”I’m just a female dick trying to make an honest collar.” And Aida Turturro portrays Wright’s wiseacre assistant. Executive producer Dick Wolf has cannily combined two genres- Murder, She Wrote’s warm coziness and his own Law & Order’s cold, complex cases-and come up with a lukewarm show that’s nonetheless pretty irresistible. B-

The Wright Verdicts
  • TV Show