Picks and Pans Review: The Lyon's Den

updated 10/06/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/06/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

NBC (Sundays, 10 p.m. ET)

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This series is potentially intriguing—or so I choose to believe, despite a few scenes in the Sept. 28 premiere that are flat-out ridiculous.

West Wing defector Rob Lowe stars as Jack Turner, an idealist working at a free legal clinic supported by the big Washington, D.C., firm of Lyon, LaCrosse and Levine. When the managing partner commits suicide—or was it murder?—Jack flatly rejects an offer to take over the high-level job, fearing the firm only wants him as a front man because his father is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee (guest star Rip Torn, always forceful but extra-hammy here). George Riley (Matt Craven), Jack's clinic colleague, argues that he should accept the promotion so the heartless firm won't close the pro bono operation out of spite. Their disagreement turns into a brawl, with Jack and George rolling around on the sidewalk. It's the silliest smack-down of the new season, but it's not the worst moment in the pilot. That comes when the nasty young man of the firm, Grant Rashton (a miscast Kyle Chandler, former star of Early Edition), laments that Jack will cut off his path to power. "Pull yourself together!" snaps Grant's scheming assistant (Frances Fisher), insubordinately slapping his face.

So why give this show a chance? Because the John Grishamesque plot maneuvers have away of pulling you in. Because Lowe is pretty good as Jack, particularly when he's doing that snippy-righteous thing he perfected in Martin Sheen's White House. But if George is to be Jack's conscience, let him forswear fisticuffs.

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