After playing everyone’s favourite chemistry-teacher-turned-druglord in Breaking Bad (2008–13), it seems like Bryan Cranston can do no wrong and his most recent portrayal of morally driven judge Michael Desiato in Showtime's Your Honor (2020) is no exception.
Don’t be swayed by the below average score on Rotten Tomatoes; there’s a gripping realism that adds substance to this series, developed by Peter Moffat who cut his teeth on BBC crime dramas after a career as an actual barrister — and it shows.
If you’re an anxious viewer, bring a cup of chamomile to the TV because if there’s one thing Your Honor isn't short on, it’s tension. Each of its three episodes online so far ends on a more high-stakes cliff hanger than the last.
Without giving too much away, the series hangs on Judge Desiato's son Adam (Hunter Doohan), after he hits a motorcyclist with his car and then flees the scene (cue lingering close up of a head cracked open in a pool of blood on the side of the road). At first Desiato intends to do the right thing and hand over his son to the police, but is forced to go against his moral instincts when he learns that the motorcyclist is the teenaged son of the most dangerous crime boss in New Orleans —Jimmy Baxter — who will certainly exact revenge when he uncovers the truth.
Starkly woven throughout the first three episodes are references to police brutality and racial discrimination. A scene in Episode Two where a young black teenager is tortured by police is particularly difficult to watch. Moffat is evidently not one to shy away from grittiness on screen, but the fact that we know that this violence is grounded in truth adds a sickening edge.
There’s a Sopranos-esque vibe to the portrayal of crime boss Jimmy Baxter and his wife Gina, played by Michael Stuhlbarg and Hope Davis who are perfectly unhinged as two parents living out their worst nightmare.
Cranston might be in comfortable territory, playing a man who will risk whatever it takes for his family (hello Breaking Bad), but he does it well and with only a 9-epsiode run, this mini-series has pulled out all the stops to keep you on the edge of your seat. The bad news: episodes are weekly so it’s not something you can binge in the void between Christmas Day and New Years. Set your alarms for every Sunday night and watch Judge Desiato's web of lies to save his son unravel week by week.
– Tarnay Sass, Communications Assistant
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