“The Public Defenders” – We all know about the lives of top-league lawyers who rake in millions of dollars settling class action suits or representing celebrity clients. We all also realize, somewhere back in our minds that for every high-priced lawyer who’s working to spin celebrity “Q-ratings” and turn high-profile crimes into high-tax bracket success, there are ten public defenders (PD’s) sweating out in the innards of some state or federal building, working for peanuts to save the dregs of society from an indifferent and often unjust legal system .
“The Public Defenders” chronicles the toll that long hours and short pay take on the personal lives of four PD’s who walk a tightrope of action and suspense while balancing their self-sacrificing professional lives with their all-too-self-absorbed sex lives and driving ambitions. The viewer enters the world of “The Public Defenders” from the vantage point of the common citizen: first glimpsing the four PD’s in their professional roles. Each episode begins with four short but conflict-heavy “teasers”‘ representing the beginnings of four distinct, but sometimes interweaving cases.
The bulk of each week’s episode is devoted to the resolution of the four cases, by each of the PD’s respectively. In some episodes, a case will be left “hanging” to be resolved in a later episode or episodes. As in real life, the PD’s will often represent the same client or clients on repeated cases and it is likely that many defendants and clients of the PD’s will become running fixtures as minor characters throughout the series’ entirety.
Each of the PD’s: Emmanuel Gonzalez: a young Yale graduate who chose to work in the trenches, student Jonathan Smith: a closet alcoholic, Sara Kentowitz: a compassionate but highly sexual do-gooder, and Joann Bonier: an ambitious but flawed attorney, becomes embroiled with their clients, often in sexual or romantic entanglements and sometimes, events unfold so rapidly and chaotically that the PD’s themselves may cross the lines of legality. The plot-lines for specific episodes are based on showcasing the thin line between subjectivity and objectivity.
The scripts will show blatantly that attorneys are anything but neutral when it comes to pushing their cases and working for their clients. Instead they are either emotionally engaged or coldly indifferent form the start of their cases and their professional work shows the degree to which they are personally engaged, invested, and interested in their clients. Ongoing plot-lines which thread through all the episodes will help to flesh out the characters and add a linear narrative dimension to the episodic format.
Emmanuel is dealing with the process of a complicated divorce from his wife of 7 years, coupled with a child custody battle while his soon to be ex-wife is dealing with extreme alcoholism. He is also defending a repeat offender on trial for murdering his brother. Sara deals with an abusive husband while defending a 16 year-old being charged with rape. Jonathan is scheduled to go before the disciplinary committee for a hearing followed by an altercation in court, and is currently the sole care-giver for is aging parents.
His father is showing symptoms of the early stages of Alzheimer’s. His mother suffers with depression. Joann, who is single, struggles to balance her work-load with the needs of her co-workers and her desire to have a personal life. Each of these over-arching plot lines will continue to spin threads and exert influence over the individual episodes which, as previously mentioned, may or may not resolve individual plot-lines.
To allow our targeted viewing audience to connect and identify with the characters, The Public Defender will be filmed in courtrooms, jail cells and in the homes of our characters, giving an in-depth real life feel for the struggles that the characters are dealing with. In stark contrast the “personal” scenes will be filmed in a romantic idealized style which emphasizes hope and humanity. The sub-text of these visual contrasts is that the shows characters draw their inspiration to keep fighting from their real life relationships and not from law-books or high-flying principles.
In fact , The PD’s are willing to subvert principles and even laws to win cases that have moved them or touched them personally because they have to do so to win. The deck is stacked against them: the are over-worked, under-trained, and representing those who are least able to defend themselves. The depth of the real life affects on the characters is intended to attract eductaed audiences of a predominantly mature demographic. The target audience would be compatible with that of “Law and Order” or “West Wing.
” However, many of the shows minor characters and sub-plots will be devoted to youthful issues and themes which impact younger people, so it hoped that 18-25 year-old college students may also find the show worthy of attention. Crime buffs, “CSI” fans, and fans of courtroom dramas should also be targeted with advertising and scheduling as much as possible as it is hoped that this demographic will also prove fruitful for “The Pubic Defenders.
” The hook for taking viewers out of the competition’s time-slot is “The Public Defenders” no-holds-barred romanticism coupled with its no-hold-barred realism: the PD’s love hard, they play to win… but they lose just as often and their clients pay the price. Airing this program will allow the network to not only capture the targeted audience but hold them for each and every episode. It will be the talk of the campus, the office and coffee shops everywhere. Those that miss these episodes will be looking to see when the reruns will be airing.