January 21, 2011 by Post Team
Fairly Legal, From CBS’s The Defenders to USA’s ‘Fairly Legal” to TNT’s upcoming buddy lawyer show Franklin & Bash, comedy has entered the legal franchise in a big way. The TNT series stars Breckin Meyer (Clueless) and Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Raising the Bar, Saved by the Bell) as two young, idealistic and rebellious attorneys who join a high-profile corporate law firm.
Executive producers Kevin Falls (Shark, The West Wing) and Bill Chais (Shark, Dirty Sexy Money) spoke to AdweekMedia’s Alan Frutkin about the series.
I want to like ‘Fairly Legal” more than I do.
There’s a lot to love about USA Network’s newest original series, beginning with Sarah Shahi, who proves that her outstanding performance as the cynical recovering alcoholic Dani Reese on NBC’s late-but-still missed Life wasn’t a fluke. As lawyer turned mediator Kate Reed, Shahi has plenty of charm, a winning smile and an earnestness that’s infectious. Kate is almost the complete opposite of Reese – except for maybe the father issues – and Shahi plays both roles equally well, proving that it’s about time someone gave her a series of her own.
Unfortunately, I don’t know if the writing is going to unlock the potential of these characters; right now, ‘Fairly Legal” still feels to me like an updated Ally McBeal, minus the dancing baby and the musical numbers. Kate spends a good portion of the pilot running around from one issue to another, either cutely bantering or neurotically panicking along the way. She and her compatriots talk far faster than any human being normally would. Not to mention, she does it all while looking beautiful and in two-inch heels. Were it me, my hair would be screwed up and I’d have blisters from all that hurrying about. She’s also got the typical cool assistant (Baron Vaughn, who has potential) and the crusty old judge that hates her (Gerald McRaney). Not to mention those daddy issues. The pilot seems to be hinting at an ongoing subplot regarding Kate’s father’s passing, or at least her relationship with him. It seems like an attempt to create a mythology in the vein of other USA Network series, and such a thing just doesn’t fit in this one.
It’s entirely possible that with a few more episodes, ‘Fairly Legal” will establish itself better and the writers will find its unique voice. It certainly has the potential to be another USA Network hit, especially when future episodes boast guest stars like Richard Dean Anderson and Chris Vance. Yet I wanted to love it, and instead I came away feeling as if I liked it…but I wasn’t in love.
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