Is 'Outlaw' Jimmy Smits' Next Hit?

Most actors never get a chance to star in a high-quality, scripted TV show. Yet the smart, sexy Jimmy Smits has anchored two of them: 1986's L.A. Law and 1993's NYPD Blue. So I understand that TV execs are happy to take a chance on him. I just wish they'd give him something better to do.

In 2007, CBS gave him a lead role in the family drama, Cane. And now NBC's cast him in another law procedural, Outlaw (which premieres Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET, then airs again on Friday at 10 p.m. ET -- its time slot going forward). Sadly, Cane was gone by the following May. And I have a bad feeling that Outlaw won't make it to Christmas.

That isn't to say that I'm rooting against Smits. I don't remember much about L.A. Law, but the smooth sex appeal of his character, Victor Sifuentes, sticks with me to this day. So does his NYPD Blue character, the heroic Bobby Simone, who won me over when I was still grieving the departure of David Caruso. And when Bobby died, oh how I wept for his wife, Diane Russell (Kim DeLaney)! She lost a good one.

Of course I'm glad to see him back on primetime (and not just as a stellar guest star -- as he was on the third season of Showtime's Dexter, even though he did play an assistant district attorney). But Outlaw's main plotline is hard to believe, and even a pro like Smits would have a hard time pulling it off. He plays a U.S. Supreme Court justice who abruptly quits the bench to become a lawyer defending the weak.

"Following the rules doesn't always lead to justice," he tells a young associate. "When that happens, you got to change the rules." Then we watch him set about clearing the name of an African-American death row inmate who was wrongly convicted. This sort of set-up -- helping out the good "little guy" in the face of the bad "establishment" -- is hardly thought-provoking stuff. In fact, it insults the viewers' intelligence; everyone knows that there are shades of gray in every story. So-called "quality TV" goes deeper. Outlaw just skims the surface.

But that's just one episode, and if anyone deserves time to develop a new show, it's Smits. I'll be rooting for him to succeed -- again. I certainly don't mind watching him try.

Do you plan to watch Jimmy Smits in Outlaw? Chime in below!

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