• Network: FOX
  • Series Premiere Date: Mar 10, 2008
  • Season #: 1
Metascore
66

Generally favorable reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 27
  2. Negative: 2 out of 27
  1. Reviewed by: Misha Davenport
    75
    As Elizabeth Canterbury, Julianna Margulies is a feisty pit bull in designer heels. She's willing to do just about everything to clear her clients. If there's one fairy-tale aspect to the show, it's that she's able to take on only clients who are actually innocent.
  2. 75
    If any lawyer ever did even a third of the things that Elizabeth Canterbury does on Canterbury's Law, the outrageous Denis Leary/Jim Serpico show that premieres tonight, she'd be disbarred in about six and a half seconds. But luckily this is TV, where lawyers-gone-wild are an always fun-to-watch staple.
  3. For all the effort that was put into making Canterbury complicated, not nearly enough quality control was put into the writing.
  4. 60
    Without Margulies, the case would be closed for Canterbury's Law. She gives the show a chance. Her biggest challenge will be overcoming the writing.
  5. 80
    The indignant heart of Canterbury's Law is that of a case-of-the-week procedural--a suitably suspenseful one at that--and within those institutional boundaries it's nice to see Margulies shake off the martyrish mien of Nurse Carol Hathaway on ER for somebody whose self-destructiveness gives her a nasty, intelligent severity at work.
  6. 80
    No television series has been built around a less likable character, or rendered itself so strangely, compulsively watchable as a result.
  7. Margulies, who appears to have buried Nurse Hathaway - and her scrubs--for good, is a crackling presence in the courtroom and just about everywhere else.
  8. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    70
    Margulies vanquishes her ER heroine image, but bad dialogue and dull legal stories undermine her case.
  9. 70
    Margulies rises so grippingly to the challenge that whatever else it is, "just another" courtroom show Canterbury's Law most definitely is not.
  10. Reviewed by: Diane Werts
    70
    What Canterbury has powerfully going for it, besides the magnetic/vulnerable Margulies, is a cast surrounding her with equal strength, from principled second Ben Shenkman to Terry Kinney as their sneaky prosecutorial adversary, plus an array of effective guest stars from the rich East Coast acting pool.
  11. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    40
    Based on a subsequent episode, however, the backstory feels thin, and even with its gritty tone and a serialized plot thread that loops back to the first case, the hour proves numbingly procedural.
  12. Canterbury's Law is a Frankenstein's monster of a dozen cop/law shows, a pale, lurching version of the flawed and fascinating women who are taking back television like so many modern Cagneys and Laceys.
  13. Ms. Margulies never recedes from the scripted egomania; she rams right through it. She remains shrill even in grief.
  14. The series gets off to a reasonably strong start, propelled nicely by some decent (and, for network TV, hard-edged) writing and engaging performances by an above-average cast.
  15. Margulies is sufficiently skilled that she finds the parts of Elizabeth Canterbury we can like, and her internal struggle is what makes this more than just the latest lawyer show.
  16. Reviewed by: Ari Karpel
    83
    Julianna Margulies now gets to command the screen in something juicier than the usual procedural. [14 Mar 2008, p.70]
  17. Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    80
    Law revels in reckless, rude antiheroics. But Margulies also excels in giving her character emotional depth, with a tragic backstory and a rocky personal life involving a long-suffering husband (Aidan Quinn) and a hot private eye (James McCaffrey) on the side.
  18. Just as with "New Amsterdam," the second episode establishes that this seeming cliche of a show has a little bit more going for it than you might think, even if the ending fireworks appear to be a weekly event. (And, OK, they are kind of fun, if not exactly believable.)
  19. 70
    Canterbury has promise but her law needs a lot of work.
  20. Julianna Margulies--also listed as a producer--is convincing as a lawyer whose only true solace is her work. Still, she lives under a black cloud that threatens to burst at any moment and overwhelm the show.
  21. 60
    Forceful but also vulnerable, flawed and brilliant, Liz is plagued by her self-righteousness and, judging by a couple of episodes, the show is plagued by her rightness.
  22. 60
    Though it's competently made and catches fire dramatically from time to time, Canterbury's Law doesn't have quite as much dramatic depth as those other shows ["Damages," "House" or "Saving Grace"]do at their best.
  23. 60
    Unfortunately, when you take Canterbury's admirable vim and vigor out of the picture for a second, this is just another courtroom drama, limited to the same old overdramatic courtroom scenes that we've seen a hundred million times before
  24. Margulies is a potent enough screen presence that this part of the show could be interesting, but Canterbury's self-destructive streak gets overshadowed by all the Leg Show material and the overheated courtroom theatrics.
  25. Margulies is an ideal actress to carry off this icy role. Perhaps in the hands of a more deft writer, Canterbury's Law could be the edgy show it aspires to be instead of the common courtroom drama it is.
  26. 75
    The show maintains a sensible balance between introducing Elizabeth's foibles and telling the story at hand--a well-constructed case that has her battling an ambitious prosecutor (the always interesting Terry Kinney).
  27. This is a good, old-fashioned legal procedural with few special effects but quite a lot of serious, adult writing.
User Score
6.0

Mixed or average reviews- based on 13 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 10
  2. Negative: 3 out of 10
  1. WilleyR.
    Apr 20, 2008
    10
    How can they possibly consider taking such a great show off the air? PLEASE reconsider!!!! We(varied ages) at our house love the show and How can they possibly consider taking such a great show off the air? PLEASE reconsider!!!! We(varied ages) at our house love the show and hunger for more of the Canterbury mojo! Full Review »
  2. MasJ.
    Mar 29, 2008
    6
    Better than expected the premiere had intensity, but falling far from the writing and acting quality of the best lawyer show on TV - "Shark". Better than expected the premiere had intensity, but falling far from the writing and acting quality of the best lawyer show on TV - "Shark". Didn't like the recurring ethical failings used just to add drama. Full Review »
  3. JasonS.
    Mar 25, 2008
    3
    Just another by the numbers lawyer show with instantly forgettable characters. A show which seems to exist for no other reason than to fill Just another by the numbers lawyer show with instantly forgettable characters. A show which seems to exist for no other reason than to fill time in the schedule. I like Julianna Margulies, so I'm particularly disappointed. Full Review »