Canterbury's Law Brings Julianna Margulies Back to TV

It's been eight years since Julianna Margulies left ER. In that time, she's had several roles as a guest star and in miniseries and TV movies. Tonight, she returns to series television, starring in the Fox legal drama Canterbury's Law.

Margulies stars as Elizabeth Canterbury, a defense attorney with a reputation for taking difficult cases and being willing to bend the law when it's in the best interest of her clients. Elizabeth and her husband Matthew, a law professor played by Aidan Quinn (replacing Linus Roache, who dropped out to become a Law & Order regular), have just relocated to Providence. They're trying to rebuild their lives after the tragic disappearance of their young son. The strain this has put on the marriage make Elizabeth's long hours a welcome distraction.

The cast is rounded out by Elizabeth's legal colleagues, including Ben Shenkman as an ex-DA whose experience on the other side of the courtroom provides an advantage. The other attorneys are played by Keith Robinson (Dreamgirls) and Trieste Kelly Dunn (United 93).

Denis Leary is one of the executive producers, so I think we can expect Canterbury's Law to be a gritty show that doesn't pull punches. When I first heard that Julianna Margulies would be starring in a new legal drama, I envisioned something like Judging Amy, but that couldn't be further from the truth. With her personal tragedy and willingness to delve into morally gray areas, Elizabeth Canterbury is the kind of antihero that would normally be a male character. She won't necessarily always be likable, but she has the potential to be consistently compelling.

In fact, Canterbury's Law might just be the first major network show to pick up on something that the cable nets figured out years ago. Dramas revolving around strong, professional women with occasionally caustic personalities are appealing to viewers. Margulies will be joining the club started by Kyra Sedgwick of The Closer and continued by Holly Hunter (Saving Grace) and Glenn Close (Damages).

Fox originally ordered 13 episodes of Canterbury's Law as a mid-season replacement, but the WGA strike only allowed for production to be completed on the first five. No word yet on whether the rest of the season will be ordered now that the strike is over. I expect Fox is waiting to see how the first episodes do before making a decision about ordering more of season one, or about the second season.

In tonight's episode, Elizabeth will defend an accused child murderer, causing friction with some of her colleagues and an inevitable confrontation with her personal demons. Canterbury's Law airs at 8pm (EST) on Fox.

* * *

Amy Kane spends as much quality time with her television as possible, when she's not busy at her day job as a cube dweller.