GOLIATH Season One Review
If you are a sucker for legal dramas, GOLIATH is right up your alley. This ten-episode season released on Amazon Video has everything you would expect in this type of show, with some twists and bends that keep you strapped in for the whole ride. The series follows Billy McBride, a former superstar lawyer who takes on a case much bigger than he anticipated. While the show suffers from a slight lack of depth, it makes up for it with a compelling case and a notably strong leading man. If you want to see Billy Bob Thornton kick some serious ass, the series is well worth your time.
While the series’s title suggests otherwise, it is the David of this David-and-Goliath story that runs the show. While many of the characters aren’t very pleasant to watch, the likeability of the protagonist is enough to make you overlook this fact. Billy McBride is an alcoholic, a divorced father, a deadbeat has-been, and kind of an asshole; yet, we always root for him because of his cleverly constructed traits. He cares about his daughter more than anything. He is incredibly skilled at what he does, and respects the practice of law. He clearly has compassion, shown in how he handles the case and his odd kindness toward a stray dog. Billy Bob Thornton also plays the hell out of the role, giving the character a whole lot of heart and some Southern charm to boot.
He’s like a Harvey Specter with even more baggage
One of the issues is, at least at the beginning, many of the other characters just don’t hold up. Though I appreciated her by the end, Billy’s partner in the case, Patty Solis-Papagian, is dreadfully annoying in the first few episodes. I mean, she just doesn’t shut up. I couldn’t even laugh at the comedic aspects of her dialogue because I just wanted her to stop talking. The show unwisely waits until the end of the season to reveal her significance to the story. Donald Cooperman, the founder of the firm Billy is battling against and the main antagonist of the season, proves to be a character of considerable complexity. While he doesn’t initially seem intimidating at all, his half-burnt face, unsettling demeanour, and malicious actions eventually make him strangely terrifying. However, Cooperman is just too bizarre to belong in this world. All the scenes with him gave the impression of watching a different, much weirder show.
Jesus, this guy could be a Bond villain
Lucy the stutterer was also a slightly weaker character. This season tells her story of overcoming her minor disability and becoming a great lawyer, but she has no redeemable qualities to make you care. She antagonizes anyone who tries to help her, and she sleeps with Cooperman (her boss) to get ahead in her career. It was gratifying to see her get her due by the end, but it wasn’t nearly enough closure. The show handles the character of Billy’s daughter Denise very well in that she plays a large role in defining Billy as a character. Despite all the hatred in his life, it is clear that he cares deeply about her. The writers utilize her character perfectly in the scene where Denise says to her father, “Hey Dad, get your shit together.” After she leaves, Billy takes a swig of alcohol, thinks to himself, and then pours it all out, showing that how his daughter sees him means everything to him.
The arc of GOLIATH maintains a structure that keeps it compelling throughout the entire season. We don’t immediately discover the sheer scale of the case or the organization Billy is fighting; it is slowly and cleverly revealed to us throughout the season. Also, the twists in the plot are strategically placed to blow the audience’s mind. When Rachel and Billy start getting close in the season premiere, I was convinced that they would be handling this case as a team for the rest of the season. Then, BOOM; a car comes out of nowhere and intervenes. Not a lot of shows have the balls to kill off the protagonist’s love interest in the second episode, especially not legal dramas. This moment showed me that this wasn’t just any regular legal drama.
I wish the season could have been longer, partly because the show’s aesthetic left me craving more, but also because the scale of the case that Billy is working on is slightly too large for only ten episodes. There are many aspects of the case that aren’t explored very much, and would have been interesting to see. It feels like the show only covered the basics of the case, and didn’t quite trust that the audience would understand the complexities of the judicial process. Come on, GOLIATH. We can handle it. Next season, I hope they delve a little bit further into what these lawyers are actually doing.
Wait, WHAT?!! Rewind, rewind, rewind…
In only ten episodes, GOLIATH proves itself a rather strong piece of storytelling. However, I find that almost all of the positive qualities of the show revolve around one thing: the main character. Billy McBride carries much of the dead weight of the lesser characters, and he is the reason why most will keep watching. Now, this is not a bad thing. The show is about Billy and his journey. But it has the potential to become an even more powerful story if the show can develop the other characters to match the awesome level that Billy McBride is on.
Despite its faults, GOLIATH is one hell of a ride, and I highly recommend that people experience it. The clever writing and magnetism of Billy Bob Thornton keep you hooked for the ten episodes, and only leave you wanting more.