Can Jimmy Smits Make Legal Lightning Strike Twice?

The L.A. Law and NYPD Blue veteran teams up with Caitlin McGee for NBC's newest legal procedural, Bluff City Law.

by | September 20, 2019 | Comments

BLUFF CITY LAW -- Season:1 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jimmy Smits as Elijah Strait, Caitlin McGee as Sydney Strait -- (Photo by: Jason Bell/NBC)
(Photo by Jason Bell/NBC)

This fall, Jimmy Smits revisits his L.A. Law days with NBC’s latest legal drama, Bluff City Law. Whether in series regular roles like NYPD Blue and The West Wing or season arcs on 24: Legacy, How to Get Away with Murder, and Dexter, networks know Smits is the kind of reliable star they want to anchor a new fall show.

Bluff City Law is about a father/daughter legal duo who team up to fight injustice. Smits plays Elijah Strait, who reconnects with daughter Sydney (Caitlin McGee) after his wife/her mother’s funeral and convinces her to leave corporate law and join his firm to fight for the very people those companies hurt.

Smits told Rotten tomatoes that being back in a courtroom, even a television courtroom with a script, made him realize his TV law was a little rusty.

“I remembered a couple of things. ‘Objection!,’” Smits joked. “We’re really fortunate because the technical advisers, consultants have been really great in terms of helping us out with all the procedural stuff. It’s important to me. I’m a stickler on that kind of thing, on any type of thing, whether it’s a cop show [or a lawyer show].”

BLUFF CITY LAW -- "Pilot" Episode -- Pictured: (l-r) Caitlin McGee as Sydney Strait, Jimmy Smits as Elijah Strait, Michael Luwoye as Anthony Little -- (Photo by: NBC)
(Photo by NBC)

Bluff City Law is the first courtroom drama for McGee, who was glad to have a TV lawyer veteran there to mentor her.

“It was called Smits Academy of Law and Order,” McGee said. “Really, the thing that was most useful to me in my research was when we actually got to watch a case and we got to see how performative lawyers have to be and how important it is to keep people engaged and interested in your side of the argument.”

The case McGee watched was a medical malpractice case where she saw the doctor in question testify on the stand. That just might come in handy for Bluff City Law. So will the jargon.

“The whole thing about the jargon, no matter what area it is, it’s part of what we do,” Smits said. “It’s like learning another language almost, right? If you’re playing a doctor, it’s part of the fascinating thing what we do, the research part, whether it’s jargon, the technical aspects of it.”

In their first case together, Elijah and Sydney team up against a chemical company whose product they believe caused their client’s cancer.

“In terms of the particular case that we were handling, I tried to do the backstory on that and with regards to the real case that it was based on,” Smits said. “Speaking to the people who are the technical advisers on the show, going to cases, it’s all part of what we do as actors. That’s the fun part.”

BLUFF CITY LAW -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jimmy Smits as Elijah Strait, Caitlin McGee as Sydney Strait -- (Photo by: Paul Gilmore/NBC)
(Photo by Paul Gilmore/NBC)

Bluff City Law is set and filmed in Memphis, Tennessee, which automatically gives it a different vibe than Los Angeles. Smits says filming any show in 2019 is automatically more advanced too.

“Our show looks a lot different and it’s much more cinematic,” Smits said. “That’s not a slight on L.A. Law at all, but it’s really cinematic, and Memphis is a vibrant part of the show. The look is a lot different. You can actually have drone shots, [but] we haven’t had one yet.”

Smits also looks back fondly on NYPD Blue, the landmark ’90s cop show he joined in season two after David Caruso left.

“I was working on the same lot, so I knew when they had written the pilot that it was going to be ground-breaking,” Smits said. “I didn’t know it was going to be the phenomenon that it turned out to be, so it was kind of fortuitous to me it came back around.”

BLUFF CITY LAW -- "Pilot" Episode 101 -- Pictured: Jimmy Smits as Elijah Strait -- (Photo by: Jake Giles Netter/NBC)
(Photo by Jake Giles Netter/NBC)

NYPD Blue pushed broadcast standards for language and nudity in order to show what life is really like for policemen and women. Today, a show like that might be on streaming with no restrictions at all.

“A show like that, you could not pitch that show to a network [today],” Smits said. “It wouldn’t happen. It just wouldn’t happen. The landscape of television is much more niche-oriented now. Certainly, edgier topic matter is something that we’ve gone for [on Bluff City Law], but I don’t know if you’re going to see naked butts on our show. That’s not going to happen.”

McGee was ready to show Sydney’s love life explicitly, though.

“You might see a back though, a naked back, maybe some abs,” McGee joked. “Hopefully it’ll be Barry Sloane’s.”

Sloane plays Jake Reilly, another lawyer at the Strait firm. Josh Kelly plays Sydney’s ex-husband Robbie, a detective who is still broken-hearted over Sydney. And while the legal drama is one focus of the series, the Straits’ personal lives will come into play as well.

“We established in the first episode what we’re all about, what the firm is about,” McGee said. “We are a legal drama, but once you really get to know these characters you’re just going to want to know more about their personal lives. You’re going to want to meet their spouses, their exes, see their homes. … You’ll definitely get to see more of that.”

(Photo by NBC)

That, said Smits, will make the legal cases even more compelling.

“I think that the audiences will engage more in the legal aspects of the show once they know all of the little character traits that each one of the characters has,” he said.

Bluff City Law premieres Monday, Sept. 23 at 10 p.m. on NBC.

Tag Cloud

cooking Holidays Elton John video Polls and Games Western sports social media Certified Fresh First Look Comic Book TCA Winter 2020 Ghostbusters Hulu book MCU DC Universe Disney Plus adaptation Rock Country blockbuster Discovery Channel Superheroe space kids elevated horror History Spring TV Trailer The CW docudrama Christmas VICE period drama Tomatazos miniseries spanish language Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Binge Guide 2015 Marvel Studios Mudbound Spike game of thrones cancelled television Logo 2017 canceled indie YouTube LGBTQ teaser sag awards Superheroes FOX Disney Channel HBO Hallmark 2019 hist CBS All Access Britbox Amazon YouTube Red diversity 20th Century Fox crossover Marathons E3 GLAAD cops Best and Worst justice league Drama cancelled Interview boxoffice supernatural Walt Disney Pictures Tubi Netflix 45 Ellie Kemper Mary poppins Marvel Television Bravo TV Land TV renewals game show Fall TV Nickelodeon Lucasfilm police drama BBC MSNBC Comics on TV A24 Reality Competition versus Teen Disney+ Disney Plus Winners singing competition Masterpiece Dark Horse Comics dc Sundance TV Mary Poppins Returns Classic Film Sony Pictures Amazon Prime Video Musicals ABC Family Awards Tour Peacock latino spinoff Universal Acorn TV free movies Food Network anthology Tarantino PBS GoT rotten movies we love spain hispanic PaleyFest CW Seed TV comics Starz finale Red Carpet directors discovery SundanceTV 21st Century Fox breaking bad Shudder El Rey Women's History Month Awards Film Festival Turner Classic Movies APB award winner Apple TV Plus Cosplay Year in Review Mary Tyler Moore psycho screenings Academy Awards quibi animated 2020 cults IFC Films USA CMT Trophy Talk Rom-Com Paramount Network thriller TLC adventure Pet Sematary E! USA Network Writers Guild of America Vudu witnail Adult Swim AMC crime canceled TV shows spy thriller political drama cancelled TV series Fox News golden globes American Society of Cinematographers ABC ESPN Chernobyl Trivia Kids & Family science fiction natural history anime zombie spider-man jamie lee curtis Action Black Mirror Tumblr unscripted The Arrangement SDCC aliens Warner Bros. Extras Rocketman First Reviews GIFs zero dark thirty OWN Brie Larson joker transformers Shondaland Oscars 007 Turner Star Trek vampires Baby Yoda crime drama President Star Wars Marvel name the review medical drama 2018 FX Emmy Nominations children's TV Emmys Grammys television IFC Anna Paquin binge VH1 ghosts Freeform BET See It Skip It New York Comic Con blaxploitation halloween Apple TV+ Spectrum Originals based on movie CBS SXSW Family Summer Comedy Central RT21 TCA The Purge Horror Lifetime Christmas movies green book NYCC Film stand-up comedy biography Cannes Sundance travel south america A&E Calendar RT History Rocky romantic comedy Video Games YA Premiere Dates cartoon sequel Stephen King Biopics cars independent Box Office Animation BBC America talk show war Watching Series mutant Cartoon Network movies nature Sundance Now Heroines NBC Schedule The Witch MTV San Diego Comic-Con theme song batman Pride Month The Walking Dead Musical Lifetime Sci-Fi technology ratings Captain marvel Arrowverse true crime Nat Geo toy story Netflix Christmas movies politics Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Hallmark Christmas movies disaster comic Winter TV romance DGA psychological thriller TIFF Syfy foreign 71st Emmy Awards Music Pirates cinemax Esquire Epix christmas movies composers Quiz dramedy robots X-Men Television Academy streaming Song of Ice and Fire HBO Max cancelled TV shows Sneak Peek Infographic zombies Election ITV screen actors guild Disney streaming service dceu Amazon Prime CNN 24 frames Photos Mindy Kaling comiccon YouTube Premium Valentine's Day DC Comics reboot revenge Paramount cats crime thriller TNT facebook Holiday Martial Arts Character Guide Disney 2016 TCA 2017 doctor who renewed TV shows Countdown DC streaming service Mystery Showtime Apple Super Bowl dragons DirecTV werewolf Avengers sitcom Lionsgate Pop National Geographic Crackle Fantasy harry potter WarnerMedia Endgame TruTV Nominations Columbia Pictures Opinion festivals Reality Thanksgiving Toys FXX historical drama WGN TCM Podcast strong female leads Crunchyroll mockumentary Set visit richard e. Grant what to watch LGBT tv talk series Creative Arts Emmys Pixar TBS OneApp serial killer casting Ovation slashers Comedy