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Judging from the reactions of a group of young lawyers to “First Years,” NBC’s new television series about first-year associates at a San Francisco law firm, the network’s executives need not concern themselves over whether to change the name for the second season. The hour-long show, which premiered last Monday night, bombed with the critics and with a group of first-year associates at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, who watched it together at a Pearl Street saloon. According to an NBC press release, “This comedy-drama … takes a humorous, intimate look at the lives of five first-year law school graduates as they struggle to get their careers off the ground in San Francisco.” The 40 actual Cadwalader first-year associates were treated to free booze at the bar up front, and a large-screen TV projection in the back room. “It’s a bonding event,” explained Annette Friend, director of associate development and recruitment. “We look for opportunities to have a good time.” From the perspective of those responsible for “First Years,” it was not a good time. To set just the right “humorous” and “intimate” tone, the opening scene featured a female cast member — young and blonde — performing a stupendous beer belch. Soon thereafter, yet another young blonde gave up trying to extricate her panties from beneath the hairy torso of a drunkly dozing dot-com hunk she had met the night before so that she might be fully dressed for a “big meeting” that very morning. After the meeting, she had this exchange with her regular swain: “You’re an arrogant pig!” “Well, you’re a tease!” THE CROWD THINS At about the halfway mark of the premiere episode of “First Years,” the backroom crowd had dwindled to 10 hard-core titterers and guffawers. For the benefit of associates at Cadwalader and elsewhere who chose to miss much of what the producers, director and cast had wrought, here are the highlights the rest of the show: A mocha-skinned female character named Riley Kessler delivered a curiously perky rant on the dominant American cultural oppression of her people. A free-spirited character named Egg is introduced. Some characters on the show think Egg is gay because: Egg displays a painting of a handsome fellow in full-Monty regalia, Egg wears a flower-pattern shirt, Egg’s lips are pouty, his expression insouciant. At one point a cast member inquires, “You’re gay, right?” (Actually, that’s one of the other guys. Egg is involved with Riley. We know, we know; with those names, it’s confusing.) Two lads of the television law firm ensemble are directed by a partner to serve a subpoena on a doctor. The pair get wind that the doctor plans to dine that night at a posh restaurant. So they wangle a nearby table for themselves. One of them throws himself to the floor, flailing about as the result of a deadly peanut allergy attack. His compatriot calls out, “Is there a doctor in the house?” The hapless physician steps forward and — bingo! — the flailer slaps him with a subpoena. At this point, there came a rousing critical chorus from the backroom crowd: “Puh-leeze!” “Now, that’s pretty creative,” suggested Garry Gordon, a Cadwalader associate. “Um, how come they didn’t just walk up to the doctor’s table and serve him?” Gordon is a fourth-year associate, hence the voice of experience. “Well, but if a TV show really told it the way it is,” said Chris D’Antuono, a bona fide first-year associate, “this room would really be empty.” Another associate, Jackie Friedman, deadpanned, “Oh, my life is exactly like that. They must have a camera in my apartment.” Roslyn Morrison, however, was not open to the ironic possibilities of “First Years.” “This is really unrealistic,” she said. “We are not involved in each others’ lives like this — not remotely!” Jonathan Hirshey allowed as to how the show had “some decent acting.” But would he watch the next installment? “I doubt it.” For the record, the crack NBC execs left no comedy stone unturned. Not even the one where the leering male lawyer remarks to a toothsome blonde as to how he could lose his briefs if she wanted.

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