So Help Me Todd: Do Marcia Gay Harden and Skylar Astin Make a Winning Team in CBS' New Legal Drama? Grade It!

CBS’ So Help Me Todd, perhaps better thought of as Take Your Hot Son to Work, is the story of a private investigator forced to investigate the most private thing of all — his relationship with his mother.

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When we meet Skylar Astin‘s titular sleuth in Thursday’s premiere, he’s busting a woman in the middle of a grocery store for collecting disability despite having healed from an injury she suffered while working at an airport. The sight of her children is too much for Todd to handle, so he agrees to delete his proof if she promises to go back to work. I’m no cardiologist, but I reckon our boy Todd has a heart of gold.

Todd’s mother’s heart, on the other hand, is very much of the stone variety. Played to uptight perfection by Marcia Gay Harden, Margaret never misses a chance to remind her son how displeased she is with his life choices, particularly the ones that got him stripped of his private investigator license. (Something about a crooked mentor who tricked Todd into getting charged with wire tapping and forgery? Honestly, there was a lot of backstory squeezed into this first hour.)

In addition to being a high-powered attorney, Margaret is also a Mom with a capital M. She accidentally calls her kids on FaceTime, she mixes up celebrities’ names, and she specifically asks people to send e-mails to her phone — even though, as Todd can’t resist pointing out, you don’t have to tell someone where to send an e-mail. You can access it from pretty much anywhere.

Anyway, these polar opposite humans are suddenly forced to spend a lot more time together when Margaret’s husband Harry goes missing, immediately sending Todd back into P.I. mode. Using every tool in his arsenal (mostly social media stalking), Todd eventually catches Harry on a flight to Iceland. He isn’t dying of Parkinson’s, as he led Margaret to believe — he just doesn’t want to be with her anymore. He says she’s too critical, and she doesn’t let him be himself, a pair of grievances Todd is all too familiar with.

But Todd doesn’t merely track down Margaret’s husband in this first hour. He also assists her with a murder trial, one she eventually wins by forcing the defendant’s mother to out herself as the real killer. It’s one of those extremely on-the-nose situations where the outcome of a case also teaches the lawyer an important life lesson, but this show is cute, so we’ll allow it.

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