Ever since its debut in late 2016, Goliath on Amazon Prime Video has been a very underrated and almost overlooked gem of a series. Now in its fourth and final season, Goliath serves as a showcase of what’s possible with a modest budget but enough dedication and clever use of current technology. In our opinion, it’s one of the prettier shows streaming right now, especially the fourth season, which released late September 2021. Running in beautiful 4K that very closely resembles the quality you get with physical discs, Goliath looks fantastic in each of its seasons, but the final one really kicks it up a notch, making it highly recommended for fans of legal dramas and superb cinematography.
The name presumably comes from the story of David and Goliath, with the latter being represented in the show by various powerful and often corrupt interests. In the first season, the bad guys were the military-industrial complex. The second centered around crooked politicians and developers. The third was probably the weakest, but still good, as it dealt with water and farming rights in the deserts outside Los Angeles. For the final season, ultimate showrunner Lawrence Trilling (who took over from David Kelley and Jonathan Shapiro) focused on the pharmaceutical industry, a fitting enough topic for the times we live in.
Goliath is at heart a legal drama, but much darker, more mature, and nihilistic than most. We think the David of the story is just us, the regular person who’s confronted with powerful forces in society that in their quest for some goal completely trample over people. Goliath is quite fair with its villains, as they’re not always bad people, but rather very selfish or greedy and thus while reluctant to hurt others, eventually willing to do so if it helps their self-serving goals.
The Davids of the world are represented by the main character of Goliath, Billy McBride, who’s played by the always good Billy Bob Thornton. McBride is an aging lawyer who used to be co-owner of his own legal firm but fell from grace into a life of alcoholism and general depression. But then he gradually becomes a champion for those who can’t defend themselves, and takes on the same powerful forces we mentioned before. He’s assisted by a devoted team that often gets very annoyed with McBride for his corrosive personality. Nina Ariande, Tania Raymonde, and Diana Hopper are all superb. For the villains, there’s a whole gallery of them, but William Hurt, J.K Simmons, Ana de la Reguera, Olivia Thirlby, Mark Duplass, Dennis Quaid, and Jena Malone are just a few that come to mind. If you want good acting, Goliath has that in spades.
Goliath looks stunning. In pristine 4K, all four seasons are a sight to behold on a big screen with a good projector. We’re not sure what Amazon Prime Video are doing to the source files for Goliath, but every season looks way better than the average 4K UHD stream, with pixel-perfect clarity and accurate, convincing colors.
The first two seasons looked great, but the setting was largely conventional, focused on legal and political affairs in LA. However, with season three the show started taking a turn for the psychedelic, moving most of the action to remote desert locations and hallucinatory settings.
With season four being Goliath’s confirmed final outing, the producers went all out and cinematographer Jeffrey Greeley didn’t hold back. Goliath season four is a feast of visuals and locations, with so much mood and atmosphere it’s almost difficult to describe. The season is set in San Francisco, a city that lends itself very well to moodiness. There’s a strong noir element that might as well be Blade Runner, with constant night and rain. Then we have a sleek corporate realm with gleaming offices and seemingly cozy rooms that hide many secrets, and a Twilight Zone-like dream dimension that you should watch for yourself. It’s a shame Goliath won’t have a fifth season, because it almost feels like it’s just now hitting its stride. But with tough production conditions and a small audience, we understand why Amazon Studios eventually decided to let it go.
Chances are you haven’t watched Goliath yet, and if that’s the case we really recommend this show and hope you’ll give it a fair shake. It’s one of the highlights of the post-2015 streaming boom in our opinion, and far more important than its humble footprint may suggest.
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