Episode 1 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 2 -|Review Score – 3/5
Episode 3 -|Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 4 -|Review Score – 2/5
Episode 5 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 6 -|Review Score – 4/5
Episode 7 -|Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 8 -|Review Score – 3/5
Episode 9 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 10 -|Review Score – 3/5
Episode 11 -|Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 12 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
There is an immediate distinction between a legal drama and a procedural drama. While the former is not too big on organizational details, the latter are purposely fine-tuned to that end. That gives rise to a structural difference as well wherein legal dramas have more flexibility and thus, are easier to follow.
So Help Me Todd is a fine CBS product that benefits from this flexibility immensely. Each episode is a new case for the mother-son duo of Margaret (Marcia Gay Harden) and Todd (Skylar Astin) Wright and another opportunity for them to remodel their strained relationship. The season starts off wobbly with no clear direction or formula beyond the cases to solve. But progressively, So Help Me Todd latches on to one and makes for very decent television.
Akin to an anthology format, each episode brings a new case to the doorstep of Margaret Wright, a hard-working, smart, and successful lawyer. Her firm also employs her son Todd, after he proves himself as a capable investigator. His professional license is revoked and his life is nearly destroyed after his treacherous shenanigans at his previous job.
Todd makes a fresh start at the law firm and uses his instinct to bend the rules and get her mother’s clients out of trouble. More often than not, his unconventional style reaps big rewards for Margaret, who is always worried that he will land himself in trouble.
So Help Me Todd does not concern itself too much with the procedure. The storyline and modus operandi are fairly straightforward and simple. Even when it comes to the emotional element, the writing seldom gets serious. These moments are reduced to glimpses in between episodes when the epiphany of the characters’ circumstances hits them. One of the most endearing parts of the format is that each episode concludes the storyline. The plot is not carried forward into another week, hence giving you instant gratification for your patience.
There is no baggage left for you to jostle with when you tune in again for a fresh case. The mysteries are almost always easy to follow but complex enough to keep you glued to the screen.
Writers seemed to have grasped the concept of creating and dispersing the little pieces of the puzzle democratically and logically well by episode three. That was So Help Me Todd’s tipping point, from where it started to do good numbers and established its functional formula. Given the creative choice to choose this format, the show cannot be faulted for making investigations and outcomes predictable.
One thing that is certain is that the viewer does not watch the show to get titillated by the uncertainty of each case. Having closure for all the cases and that too a good one is something that instils a unique warmth that allows you to get on with life after watching the episode.
So Help Me Todd makes for an entertaining hour of good detective work, upholding the frontiers of justice, and simple family drama anyone can relate to. It might come across as a veiled critique by a high-handed reviewer but the comment is not meant as an insult. It is definitely a compliment because even when the execution is simple, there needs to be an inherent sweetness and likeability to it.
And to brand the execution as simple should not take away the credit from writers for diligent thought processes. The themes and subject matter of each case are related to contemporary legal developments and encompass issues that are actually changing the paradigms of the field. The treatment is not old-fashioned, derivative, or pointless by any means. But, as is most often the case, somebody’s strengths are weaknesses in someone else’s reckoning.
What makes So Help Me Todd such an easy, flowing watch also makes it unchallenging. There might be a tendency in some people to withdraw from the show after a few episodes due to this lack of excitability we have become accustomed to consuming modern-day content.
The acting, in some parts, feels very light and uninteresting as well. Harden is the more culpable party here. There are some occasions when she just freezes and presents a plastic face when it is time for her to capitalize. Apart from the protagonists, other supporting members of the cast that change with every episode are not that serious-looking either.
These small bits are perhaps the only complaints one can have about the show. Comparing apples with oranges is an important note to remember before one takes aim at So Help Me Todd on a more successful peer’s shoulder. You cannot simply go into a horror movie and expect comedy. For those well versed with the format, the CBS drama is a treat to watch.
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Verdict - 7.5/10