Between the launch of Amazon Freevee’s Bosch: Legacy and Netflix’s new adaptation of The Lincoln Lawyer, author Michael Connelly is having quite the month. Although the main characters in the book series that the two shows are based on often interact on the page, their screen worlds have been kept completely separate, so don’t look for Titus Welliver to show up as Harry Bosch on The Lincoln Lawyer. But Bosch’s half-brother Mickey Haller (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) has so much going on that he probably wouldn’t have time for Harry, anyway.
Based on Connelly’s 2008 novel The Brass Verdict, the first season of The Lincoln Lawyer follows Mickey as he returns from a hiatus in his law practice. He’s dealing with a lot of personal baggage as the series opens, and Garcia-Rulfo conveys the weight of Mickey’s mistakes and ambitions as he tries to piece his life back together. He’s recovering from an opioid addiction that began when he took painkillers following a surfing accident, and he’s also hoping to mend his relationships with his ex-wife Maggie McPherson (Neve Campbell) and his teenage daughter Hayley (Krista Warner).
Mickey’s return to practicing law is jump-started when he unexpectedly inherits the practice of a colleague who has been murdered. The show’s title comes from Mickey’s preference for working on the move, making his signature Lincoln vehicles into his office, and he’s not quite comfortable as the head of a more conventional practice. Mickey goes from having no clients to being the lead attorney on a high-profile murder case, defending tech mogul Trevor Elliott (Christopher Gorham), who’s accused of killing his wife and her lover. Mickey also takes on a number of less complicated, lower-stakes cases, all while worrying that whoever killed his colleague might be targeting him as well.
The Lincoln Lawyer was originally developed for CBS before shifting to Netflix, and it retains the rhythms and style of a traditional network-TV legal drama. Aside from some strong language, there’s nothing in the show that would prevent it from airing on CBS, and in that sense, it fits perfectly with fellow Connelly-based drama Bosch: Legacy. That makes it a bit less bold than viewers might expect from a streaming series, but it also makes it easy to watch, with bite-size episodic cases mixed in with the overarching story of the Trevor Elliott murder trial.
Netflix’s The Lincoln Lawyer was created by David E. Kelley, and it hearkens back to his days as the king of TV legal dramas in the ’90s and ’00s, with series like L.A. Law, The Practice, and Boston Legal. Kelley has reinvented himself in recent years with prestige dramas like Big Little Lies and The Undoing, but The Lincoln Lawyer is more straightforward than those shows, befitting its origins in Connelly’s no-nonsense crime novels. Kelley gives the show a sturdy foundation that could provide for multiple seasons, and fellow network-TV veteran Ted Humphrey takes over as showrunner from there.
Connelly’s first Mickey Haller novel was adapted into the 2011 film The Lincoln Lawyer starring Matthew McConaughey as Mickey, but by casting Garcia-Rulfo, the series emphasizes Mickey’s Mexican heritage, more accurately representing Connelly’s conception of the character. Like Bosch, The Lincoln Lawyer celebrates the diverse culture of Los Angeles, and Mickey himself is a reflection of that. Having its main character spend most of his time on the road gives the show the chance to explore the city.
There’s just enough local flavor to augment the legal drama, which is interwoven with some personal subplots, including Mickey’s obvious efforts to rekindle his relationship with Maggie. It’s all familiar from decades of network procedurals, but there’s a reason those shows are such reliable successes. Mickey Haller fits into that TV tradition perfectly.
If you watched and loved The Lincoln Lawyer, please give it a thumbs up on Netflix and rate it on sites like Rotton Tomatoes & IMDb.
Read the Books
Mickey Haller is a Lincoln Lawyer, a criminal defense attorney who operates out of the backseat of his Lincoln Town Car, traveling between the far-flung courthouses of Los Angeles to defend clients of every kind. Bikers, con artists, drunk drivers, drug dealers—they're all on Mickey Haller's client list. For him, the law is rarely about guilt or innocence, it's about negotiation and manipulation. Sometimes it's even about justice.
A Beverly Hills playboy arrested for attacking a woman he picked up in a bar chooses Haller to defend him, and Mickey has his first high-paying client in years. It is a defense attorney's dream, what they call a franchise case. And as the evidence stacks up, Haller comes to believe this may be the easiest case of his career. Then someone close to him is murdered and Haller discovers that his search for innocence has brought him face-to-face with evil as pure as a flame. To escape without being burned, he must deploy every tactic, feint, and instinct in his arsenal—this time to save his own life.
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Josh Bell is a freelance writer and movie/TV critic based in Las Vegas. He’s the former film editor of Las Vegas Weekly and the former TV comedies guide for About.com. He has written about movies, TV, and pop culture for Syfy Wire, Polygon, CBR, Inverse, Crooked Marquee, and more. With comedian Jason Harris, he co-hosts the podcast Awesome Movie Year.