Amazon Studios quietly released a new series in October called GOLIATH from creators David E. Kelley and Jonathan Shapiro. It stars Billy Bob Thornton in his Golden Globe winning turn as Billy McBride. Thronton is his seminal drunk, lovable loser role but with a twist; he’s a brilliant (defrocked) lawyer. Thornton reluctantly gets lured into a case against a weapons contractor that is represented by a gigantic law firm that he helped created and no longer is a part of.
The casting of the series is wonderfully rounded out by Maria Bello who is Thornton’s ex-wife, Molly Parker as a cut throat lawyer working for Thornton’s former film, Harold Perrineau as the judge overseeing the case, Dwight Yoakam as the CEO of the weapons contractor Borns Tech, and William Hurt in a beautiful showboat of a performance as Donald Cooperman, Thornton’s former partner.
This show has a very complex structure. It is equal parts CALIFORNICATION with Thornton in an apathetic daze, where he spends his days drinking and co-parenting his daughter with Bello – yet it is steeped heavily in dark LA noir. Just when you forget about how transgressive and dangerous the show is while watching Thornton bumble through a scene with his trademark zeal – we get quickly reminded of the dangers of the show by a cut to William Hurt who is always seated in his dark office, face half covered in burn scars, listening as his gaggle of lawyers discuss their best course of action against Thornton, as he answers their questions with a paratrooper signalling clicker.
The affability of Thornton is starkly contrasted by the overbearing menace of Hurt. He’s the big bad of series, and his danger and power is very much akin to a Blofeld esque villain of importance and stature. Hurt’s brilliant performance is a reminder that he hasn’t faded as an actor, but that he is constantly able to turn out remarkable work decade after decade, never allowing himself to disappear as time carries on.
It hasn’t been announced if there will be a second season of GOLIATH, whispers are that the show will not continue; which comes as bittersweet news. The series wrapped itself up brilliantly, without the finale hinging upon a second season. Much like HBO’s LUCK or AMC’s LOW WINTER SUN, the series contains and closes its taut narrative within a singular season, yet the characters are so rich and developed with complexity and care that it truly would be a shame to let them go so quickly. Whatever the fate of GOLIATH may be, it stands tall and even superior to most of Netflix and HBO’s original programming.
GOLIATH is available to stream on Amazon Prime.