Katherine Heigl was born to be a defense attorney. Even on Grey’s Anatomy a decade ago, Heigl could put a backspin of righteous emotion on the most unfathomable dialogue. Now she’s been tasked with pleading an unpopular case: that of her own presence on TV in 2017. After all, this is an actor to whom various small scandals, most notably her perception that her movie Knocked Up was “a little sexist,” have stuck for years. Heigl’s treatment has mostly been unfair.
But that has given her tendency to play the crusader fresh resonance. In Doubt, a new CBS legal drama, she shines. She plays Sadie Ellis, a lawyer covering up inner strife with work and courtroom antics. Alternately quavering or rageful, Heigl does indignation as well as ever. Doubt‘s cast includes Elliott Gould, as an avuncular mentor, and Orange Is the New Black‘s Laverne Cox, whose character matter-of-factly processes her career through her understanding of the world as a trans woman seeking compassion.
Doubt finds its energy in soapy extremes, amping up interpersonal drama among those who thrive on fighting the status quo. The premise lends itself, easily, to unburdening heart-to-hearts and endless objections. The team, like the best defenders, may just persuade you to grant Doubt–and especially Heigl–a reprieve.
Doubt airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. E.T. on CBS
This appears in the February 27, 2017 issue of TIME.