'Canterbury's Law' is a brainy – and welcome – addition to prime time

In Fox's new drama, Julianna Margulies stars as a brilliant, but troubled, defense lawyer.

Brilliant, but deeply troubled female leads have been scoring big on basic cable for a while – think of Kyra Sedgwick in TNT's "The Closer," and Glenn Close in "Damages" on FX.

"Canterbury's Law," which debuts March 10, at 8 p.m., on Fox, toes a similar line, and does it admirably well.

The soulful Julianna Margulies stars as Elizabeth Canterbury, a hotshot defense lawyer with more than a few personal issues to work out; more often than not, she works them out through the clients she represents and the tactics she chooses to defend them. In the pilot episode, we learn that she is willing to bend the law beyond what some might say is the breaking point in order to serve a higher justice.

In this case, a fragile young man is accused of brutally killing an 11-year-old boy. And we meet Margulies in the midst of an extramarital affair. But by the end of the 45 minutes, she has ended it, and we understand what drove her to the affair in the first place.

This is a good, old-fashioned legal procedural with few special effects but quite a lot of serious, adult writing. It's a bit surprising, perhaps, for the action-loving Fox Network, but for those who have always appreciated this actress's considerable gifts, it is a welcome addition to prime time. Grade: B+

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