I haven't been this excited about a new show in a long time, and Proven Innocent didn't disappoint!
Proven Innocent Season 1 Episode 1 was even better than I expected.
Kelsey Grammer's Gore Bellows was as corrupt as promised, yet he wasn't a caricature villain at all, and Madeline Scott was not a perfect hero. Their imperfections led to an almost perfect hour of television!
The mystery-in-the-past formula was first popularized by How to Get Away With Murder and pops up so often that it's almost become a trope. In this case, though, it's useful. The flashbacks are connected to Madeline's trauma over having been falsely convicted of a crime and imprisoned for seven years.
That trauma drives her and affects her in untold ways, making her character that much richer.
At work, Madeline's zeal for proving Bellows was corrupt led to an interesting conflict between her and Easy.
Easy helped her with her own case and is passionate about getting the innocent out of jail, but the two didn't seem to be able to see eye to eye at all, and I was wondering where this is going to go as the series progresses.
I could see the rift getting bigger and since Bellows seriously lacks ethics, he might exploit their disagreements for his own benefit should he get wind of it.
The social worker in me loved Maddie's argument for Lucia taking her chances in court. I used to work with people who had criminal justice involvement, and what she said was entirely correct: people are not kind to ex-felons, even ones who are exonerated.
I'm thrilled that this show is examining some of the inequities of the criminal justice system and I hope that continues.
And I felt terrible for Maddie that her life is essentially consumed with trying to prove her innocence even after her release, and that she has almost no personal life.
I was so mad that the reporter she likes so much appears to be using her interest in him to get info on her for his story! I'm sure it'll backfire, especially with the team looking into how Bellows uses the media to try his case in the court of public opinion.
But still, that was cold, especially given how hard it was for Maddie to agree to a date at all.
Madeline: Levi, you promised.
Levi: Promises... I'm sorry. I miss her.
Madeline: She was my best friend too, but I'm not a drug addict!
Levi: We were more than friends. I never told you. I never told anyone. We were together.
Madeline: You and Rosemary? But you swore to me you were never with her.
Levi: It was our secret.
Madeline: You lied to me! If this gets out, people will think we killed her all over again. It'll destroy us.
Levi: It'll destroy you. I'm already gone.
I also wonder how soon a case the team is working on will dovetail with the investigation into who really killed Rosemary.
Signs were already pointing towards Levi, which means he is going to turn out to have nothing to do with it. I hope, anyway. Not only would it be a dull end to that mystery, but I already like and feel sorry for him.
Brian Husband and his mean girl wife caused Levi to lose his job, which seemed to be the only thing keeping him sober, just because they're convinced he's guilty of a crime of which he was supposedly exonerated.
It was unfair that he was the one who got in trouble when Brian hit him with a bat in the first place, and doubly unfair that he lost his coaching job.
That shows what Maddie pointed out to Easy: once someone gets convicted of a crime, they stay convicted in the court of public opinion and don't have much freedom waiting for them when they come home.
I'm also curious about exactly what happened with Maddie's case.
She told Lucia that her conviction got overturned, but her knowledge of Alford pleas didn't seem to just come from reading law books.
And her comment that if you take an Alford plea, the case can be reopened seemed like foreshadowing.
Bellows wouldn't be above doing something like that to get Maddie out of his way if she continues to be a thorn in his side.
Even if she didn't take a plea and double jeopardy was supposed to attach, I wouldn't be surprised if he tried to find a way to do just that!
You know, prosecuting you was nothing personal. I was just doing my job. I really thought you were guilty. And I still do.Bellows
Bellows is the scariest of all villains: the guy who does the utterly wrong thing while entirely convinced he's right.
I also don't doubt that he thinks all the lies and manipulations he used to get convictions against Lucia, Maddie, and others were 100% justified.
The translator guy said he only falsified documents when he was sure the defendants were guilty, and Bellows wasn't much different.
I don't doubt he was sincere when he told Easy that he does what he does to honor the feelings of the bereaved parents who lost their kids to murder or that he's sickened by the thought of a guilty person going free and murdering again.
Bellows: Contrary to what Miss Scott may believe, we prosecutors are human beings.
Madeline: Objection. Assumes facts not in evidence.
All of this makes Bellows a formidable opponent in the courtroom as well as in the outside world. He knows how to push Maddie's buttons so that she looks out of control in court and how to present himself as classy, charming, and utterly reasonable.
He's quickly become a love to hate kind of villain in my book, which makes me look forward to seeing more of him!
That should only get more intense as the race for attorney general goes on. I wonder if Bellow will get desperate enough to crack -- ever -- or if he will always have the upper hand.
I also want to know more about his wife. She could end up being his Achilles' heel, depending on how much she knows or how much she's willing to put up with.
Speaking of which, what was up with that judge who sat on Lucia's case?
She was so opposed to hearing any evidence suggesting that Lucia hadn't committed a crime that I wondered if Bellows had paid her off!
It was beyond me how she could decide that both the carbon monoxide poisoning and the fact that the fire probably was not even arson were immaterial or that this case was weak.
She sure changed her mind when Bodie brought in that translator. I guess she was disgusted enough with the translator's decision to play judge and jury that she put aside her prejudices.
What did you think, Proven Innocent fanatics? Did the pilot live up to your expectations?
In which storylines are you most interested?
And am I the only one who thinks Kelsey Grammer's villainous Gore Bellows is a fascinating character?
Weigh in with your thoughts below!!
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.