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In 'Outlaw,' Smits' character should be shot down

Jimmy Smits stars as Cyrus Garza in the

Jimmy Smits stars as Cyrus Garza in the new NBC drama "Outlaw" premiering Sept. 15, 2010. Photo Credit: NBC


Jimmy Smits is back.


Previews Wednesday night at 10 on NBC/4, then moves into regular time slot, Fridays at 10 p.m.

Remember Matt Santos (Smits), the liberal senator who won the White House on "The West Wing" by blasting the conservative- portrayed-as-troglodyte Arnie Vinick (Alan Alda)? He's back, at least in spirit.

Supreme Court Justice Cyrus Garza is a super-conservative member who got there because his Supreme Court justice father - the exact political opposite - was killed in a car crash. A conservative president appoints the son, who has a conversion: "After the accident, it feels like I'm hurting people I should be protecting." He quits the court, becomes a liberal lion and goes after real justice. First case - a death row inmate wrongly convicted of murder.


Whether you embrace "Outlaw" or not depends upon your appetite for the implausible. If that appetite is bottomless, then good luck and Godspeed - have we got a show for you. If the idea of a justice with a gambling problem and an aversion to neutrality smells like week-old bologna, then move along, friend. In fact, "Outlaw" isn't bad as much as bogus. The whole faulty premise creaks and groans under the weight of a now-you-see-it-now-you-don't shell game, as key plot points zip by, then are quickly tucked back under their shell in the vain hope you won't remember them, or maybe take them at face value. Smits as Garza? I'm tempted to say what I'd do with the character, and yielding to temptation, that would be this: Make him duplicitous, troubled, complex and fallible. Make him - in other words - an interesting heavy in a flawed show as opposed to cardboard cutout in a flawed one.


A not-terrible show with a premise as hole-y as a hunk of Swiss cheese. Smits, and you, deserve better.



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