Even for a staid, predictable legal procedural, ABC’s Conviction is a zero. It wants to be Scandal or How to Get Away with Murder, but it also wants to fit within the weekly procedural framework of Castle, and it is a spectacular failure on all counts. The pilot is overstuffed; the writing is overcooked; and the episode can’t go five minutes without introducing another tired trope. Even as background viewing, Conviction is a dud.
It’s not the fault of Hayley Atwell, however. She’s game, but not even someone with her considerable talents can sell the joyless melodrama and hackneyed investigative work. Atwell plays Hayes Morrison (oh, that name!), a former First Daughter who is blackmailed by the Manhattan district attorney into heading up the Conviction Integrity Unit, an Innocence Project-like organization where Hayes is charged with clearing a series of wrongfully convicted prisoners. Inexplicably, she is given 5 days to clear each case, or she’ll lose her job and her mother — who is vying to become a Senator — will rat her out for her coke problem and send her to jail.
Meanwhile, Morrison hates her boss (Eddie Cahill) but desperately wants to fuck him; a character played by Shawn Ashmore already loathes Morrisson because she took his job; and she has to juggle a team of lawyers and investigators played by familiar actors (Alias’ Merrin Dungey, The Walking Dead’s Emily Kinney, and Graceland’s Manny Montana), who don’t like her, either.
Hayes Morrison is not meant to be a likable character. She’s a brilliant but spoiled lawyer with severe entitlement issues and a drug problem. But she is also played by Hayley Atwell, who is impossible to dislike except when she’s delivering lines like “Why be the fox in the henhouse when I can be the wolf who mauls the fox?” with dead seriousness.
And therein lies the biggest problem with Conviction aside from its preposterous premise, the lazy writing, the one-dimensional characters and its reliance on cringeworthy cliches: It doesn’t know how to use Atwell. I am in the minority, but I am also of the opinion that Agent Carter didn’t know how to use Atwell well, either. She’s personable, fun, and completely disarming — she’s like a slightly older British Jennifer Lawrence — but she’s hamstrung by these muted characters. Someone needs to hire her and let her Atwellness loose. She needs to be, like, the older sister on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend or a woman with whom Alex has a torrid affair on Orange is the N adadaga[oishgadadsafd
Editor’s Note: Due to the nature of his last incomplete sentence, Dustin was unable to complete his review. We apologize for the inconvenience. We hope that this photo will make up for the interruption.