ABC's 'The Deep End' is a shallow legal drama

"The Deep End" brings to life the tragedies

"The Deep End" brings to life the tragedies and triumphs of five earnest twenty-something first-year associates fighting to stay afloat in one of Los Angeles' top law firms, on the ABC Television Network. (Credit: ABC/Greg Gayne)

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THE SHOW "The Deep End"

WHEN | WHERE Thursday at 8 p.m. on ABC/7

WHAT'S INTERESTING HERE Not necessarily what's on screen, but a cast member's other job.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT A pod of young, impossibly pretty law school grads lands jobs at one of L.A.'s most prestigious firms, and is promptly thrown into the "deep end." This place is shark-infested, and it will take all their brilliance to . . . blah, blah, blah. In truth, it will take all their willpower to stay out of each other's arms and beds. (By hour's end, some of them have happily given in to Eros.)

Boss of the firm is known simply as the Dark Prince, aka Cliff Huddle, played by Billy Zane ("Titanic"). Cliff's a sly, duplicitous cad with a well-polished dome, who brought the firm spectacular profits, and not just because "billable hours" are his two favorite words in the language.

He has embraced the city elite and their bank accounts, doing what needs to be done, and . . . blah, blah, blah. What Cliff is especially good at is bugging and subverting the firm's boss of bosses, Hart Sterling (Clancy Brown), and all the firm's associates, whom he kicks around like puppies.

THE CAST They are Matt Long as young, idealistic Dylan Hewitt; Broadway's Norbert Leo Butz as Rowdy Kaiser, a partner who's Dylan's self-styled mentor; Tina Majorino ("Napoleon Dynamite") as Addy Fisher, who's earnest and a tad dull; Leah Pipes as Beth Branford, scion of a famous legal family and hot; Nicole Ari Parker ("Soul Food," "Boogie Nights") as Susan, Cliff's wife who's tougher than her hubby, and hot; and Ben Lawson as Liam Priory, a new associate who likes the ladies.

MY SAY So, then, you got this far and are wondering - just what is of interest here? Answer: Clancy Brown, a fine veteran actor ("Carnivale") who's otherwise just collecting a check on "The Deep End." He is best known as the voice of Eugene H. Krabs on "SpongeBob SquarePants," and believe me when I say, as you wade through these 44 minutes - among the longest 44 minutes of your life - you'll wish that just once Clancy would break into Krabs' voice. It would lighten your burden.

BOTTOM LINE Nice cast. Otherwise, charmless. Airless. Lifeless. (Blah, blah and blah.)

GRADE C-

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