McBride, a Mentor and a Murder
Whilst "McBride: Fallen Idol" is the 7th movie in the series of 10 made for TV movies it doesn't matter if you haven't watched any of the previous McBride movies as they all work fine as stand alone movies. But if you haven't watched any of the other movies don't watch this expecting either a great legal or crime drama because these movies are what I call easy-watching rather than being gritty realism, they are more akin to "Diagnosis Murder" than "CSI". Having said all that "McBride: Fallen Idol" is the most disappointing in the series so far and more than ever relies of the likeability of John Larroquette to carry it with little in the case of mystery when it comes to the crime he solves or the evolving relationships between McBride, Phil and Roberta.
Whilst Mike McBride (John Larroquette) may be a good lawyer to him Grayson Franks (Madison Mason) is his idol and after watching his old friend in action is invited to attend a party to celebrate his 40 years as a lawyer. It comes as a shock to McBride when a few days later he learns that Grayson has been murdered and puts him in a difficult position when a friend of Phil's (Matt Lutz) asks them to represent her little brother who has been arrested for his murder after trying to sell Grayson's missing Rolex. But believing the young man innocent McBride and Phil start digging around and discover the truth about Grayson which not only shocks McBride but all those concerned with his murder.
If you have watched any of the other "McBride" movies it will be little surprise when I say that "McBride: Fallen Idol" follows a familiar formula of being book ended by courtroom action with McBride, Phil and Detective Roberta snooping and solving the case in the middle. A bit of a variation comes from the opening courtroom action not being McBride but Grayson which is an effective lead in to introduce all the pivotal players and suspects. But beyond that we are talking routine and unfortunately this time around it is some of the weakest routine I have seen.
The trouble is that during Grayson's party it becomes too obvious that Grayson has secrets and exactly what those secrets are and then it doesn't take a genius to work out who killed him. And if you didn't pick up on it at the party scene there are numerous other scenes where it does little too disguise the mystery. Now as I said you don't watch these "McBride" movies for the crime drama but the lack of subtlety in this episode is a pity because it means that whilst easy to watch it relies purely on the shoulders of the main characters and actors to carry it.
On that subject it seems like what amounts to poor mystery writing also manifests itself with the characters with the most disappointing aspect being no evolution in the characters of McBride, Phil and Roberta. It is one of the reasons you watch these movies so that you can see what happens next for these three but there is no evolution here, no further romance between McBride and Roberta and when it comes to Phil the only thing we learn is what he once wanted to be. What also doesn't help is that the supporting cast have cliche characters and so fail to make any impression with the exception of a couple who seriously over act.
What this all boils down to is that "McBride: Fallen Idol" is another easy going episode in the "McBride" series but it is a weak episode which relies more than ever on the charm of John Larroquette to make it entertaining.