It usually happens on Trivia nights, where my friends and I are are hopped up on minutia and, in my case, far too much Earl Grey, that we have our more inane discussions. This one was how lawyers don’t usually feature very prominently in science fiction. Or so I thought.
It turns out that Trivia teams, especially my trivia team, are particularly good at… well… trivia, and they pointed out to me that there was a science fiction show about lawyers, and it was called ‘Century City’.
They didn’t know any more than that, so I had to take it upon myself to find it, and then watch it.
If you’ve never heard of it, I don’t blame you. It lasted for nine episodes in 2004 and was about lawyers handling legal issues confronting society in the year 2030. Only four episodes aired, so the likelihood of anyone having seen it is pretty low. And I bet, even after reading this article, the chances of you watching is not really going to up dramatically either.
That being said, I have a hard time figuring out why this show failed. It’s bad, yes, but in all the ways that usually make nerds love something. Also, it’s full of “holy crap, is that [insert (sort of) famous celebrity here]?!?!”
What do I mean? Well, here’s just a taste of “holy crap, is that ______?” Take this episode about a dude suing his mother because she is making it impossible for him to a get a girlfriend:
Yeah. That’s Felicia freakin’ Day. I don’t know what I was expecting with this show, but it certainly wasn’t this. But really, I shouldn’t have been surprised because… well… look at the main cast:
It’s like a sci-fi nerd’s wet dream come true. It’s Mr. Fantastic, Batmanuel, and Bane! And that’s me not even choosing the roles they are actually most famous for!
Consequently, it makes me wonder if ‘Century City’ would be more watchable if you just imagined the cast being a bizarre fanfic crossover involving those three characters, although I feel like Mr. Fantastic would just make it boring, so I’m replacing him with Horatio Hornblower.
Seriously, though. Ioan Gruffudd? That man is a legitimate actor who stars in historical dramas. And yes, apparently that’s my gage for good acting. Why is he playing a character whose only dramatic intrigue lies in that he’s married and slept with one of his coworkers?
And Nestor Carbonell? He’s Richard Alpert in ‘Lost’ and Mayor Garcia in ‘The Dark Knight’! Not a personality-less former politician in a law practice. Well, not unless Batman is involved. Those beautiful eyelashes were really meant for greater things (like bringing back ‘The Tick‘, hint hint).
Frankly, though, I’m more taken aback by Hector Elizando. He has less of a nerd-following, but the man was in ‘Chicago Hope’, ‘Monk’ and *cough*”The Princess Diaries’ *cough* What is he doing here?
Just what the hell is going on with this show?
Every episode, you see people like Zachary Ty Bryan (Brad from ‘Home Improvement’), Enrico Colantoni (Elliot from ‘Just Shoot Me’), and Jeff Perry (if you don’t know his name, I guarantee you know his face; he is on the A-list of recurring characters on TV shows). These people are not nobodies who are desperately trying to make a name for themselves. They already had names. They are established. Even Robert Wisdom (Anderson on ‘Burn Notice’) is on ‘Century City’, and really, he is my favorite guest star by far.
Why is he my favorite? Because the only way you would ever know he was in ‘Century City’ is if you watched the show right up until the series finale, and trust me, that is not easy to do. I only managed it because if force of will was a superpower, it would definitely be mine. Though, at first, I wasn’t even sure it was Robert Wisdom.
It’s hard to tell, right? I spent forty-five minutes ignoring who the hell was murdering who when clones are involved, and trying to figure out just who the actor who played the detective was when it hit me that he looked almost exactly like the funniest angel in the garrison, Uriel, from ‘Supernatural’.
I, of course, went to IMDB to confirm this, but…
‘Century City’ is not listed in his IMDB credits. So, I go back and watch the opening credits, and there it is.
Apparently, Robert Wisdom is the most ashamed angel in the garrison too.
I don’t really get why this show can have such great actors and still fail. At first, I thought it was because of the lame sci-fi name that only people who live in Los Angeles would understand. Then I thought it was because it showed on Tuesday nights, which is silly because that’s when all the good shows air. I mean, we know it can’t be the fact that it’s about lawyers. You can’t watch primetime television on any night without running into a show that has lawyers, and it’s been like that for as long as I’ve been alive.
As I began to reflect on it more deeply, I thought it may have been because any show about legality in the future is going to be totally based on made-up laws, and therefore the drama, no matter what it may be, is going to seem contrived. After all, it was. Though, interestingly enough, the episodes have already proven to be oddly prescient about future. It had an episode titled “Love and Games” that was practically, legality for legality, the Oscar Pistorius lawsuit that would happen eight years after the episode was supposed to air.
The episode focused on Teddy Paikin, a baseball player who was barred from playing baseball because of his bionic eye. It was argued that he had an unfair advantage because of it. If you recall, Oscar Pistorius had to file a lawsuit to run in the 2012 Olympics because he was also almost barred due to the worry that his disability would actually give him an advantage. Frankly, I’m surprised no one called up the show for legal advice.
Sadly, as cool as that coincidence may be to people like me, it obviously was a no-go for the rest of America.
So, let’s get down to what we all sort of feel in our heart of hearts, even if we don’t want to acknowledge it. It was the science fiction that proved to be the fatal part of the sci-fi/legal combination. As much as shows like ‘Lost’ and ‘Battlestar Galactica’ did, well, they really are exceptions and definitely not the rule. As we know, any show that has to do with the law goes on about nine more seasons than it usually deserves, and any show about science fiction gets cancelled after one.
In any case, if you are interested in watching a lot of amazing actors tackle some interesting legal issues that don’t yet exist, you can check out ‘Centry Citry’ on Hulu for free.