In a scene from “For The People” (2018), from left, are Jasmin Savoy Brown and Wesam Keesh. IMDb photo

It debuted on March 13, 2018, at 10 p.m. on ABC.

So why should we go back that far to dig in on what some are calling Shonda Rhimes’ “Grey’s Anatomy” in a courtroom?

First of all, it moves faster, has better deeper characters and is written by Paul William Davies, who gives it the best “action” writing since “West Wing.”

Davies’ writing and the direction is so similar to that in Aaron Sorkin’s “West Wing.”

The show has several directors that all seem to follow a strict pattern, fast, and I mean fast cuts from one set up to the next, and winging around the judicial sets and offices, the way “West Wing” did, leaving us glued to our soft chairs.

It’s blessed to have Hope Davis; Anna Deavere Smith back in her best days stealing the camera and every scene she’s in here; “Angels in America” and “Billions” star Ben Shenkman, chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office; and the great Vondie Curtis-Hall, looking all ancient, grizzly and yet, warm and human as presiding judge.


We walk the prestigious halls of the U.S. Southern District Court of New York, where these actors share the marbled halls with three public defenders and three prosecutors, including Sandra (Britt Robertson), Allison (Jasmin Savoy Brown), Leonard Knox (Rege-Jean Page), and Kate Littlejohn (Susannah Flood).

All unnaturally handsome, lovely, brilliant, educated, and lucky for us, talented, and perfectly suited for the roles, even though, realistically, way too young for such advanced legal minds.

One wonders what time do they go to bed, get up, get those hairdos erected and the perfect wardrobes arranged. Whew!

But as Alfred Hitchcock said, “it’s just a movie,” we too accept all of that, and captivated by their preternatural energy and verbal gymnastics, we move along down the halls, watched over by the court clerk (the impeccable Anna Deavere Smith), who is armed with a knife-sharp wit and grandmother wisdom.

With the show’s return from the pandemic flawed seasons, we find ourselves grateful to watch, if only for two seasons, really “good stuff” before going back to rewatch, for the fourth time, solid evenings of “West Wing” and “Newsroom.”

“For the People” streams once again on Hulu.

J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.

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