REVIEW: USA's "Fairly Legal" Premiere

I’m a big fan of procedurals so out of curiosity, I decided to check out USA’s new series Fairly LegalFairly Legal stars Sarah Shahi (Dani Reese on Life) as lawyer turned mediator Kate Reed.  Kate works for her recently deceased father’s law firm alongside her “Wicked Stepmother” Lauren (How I Met Your Mother‘s Virginia Williams).  The two are fighting to keep the firm in business as their competitors woo their biggest clients away in the wake of Teddy Reed’s death just a week before the series premiere is set.  Kate, like any good protagonist, has her own definition of the “law” that naturally falls against the grain of everyone else including the late Teddy, Lauren, and her ex-husband-and-sometimes-lover Justin (Michael Trucco aka ANDERS!!! on Battlestar Galactica). Only her faithful, Dungeons & Dragons lovin’ assistant Leonardo (Law and Order‘s Baron Vaughn) really gets her and puts in much overtime, no questions asked.

While I definitely liked the first episode, I didn’t love it.  It has all of the ingredients to be a good series, but there’s just something missing.  The characters have depth and in my opinion, it was well written but there was an odd flow to it.  About halfway through, I started checking to see how much longer there was to the episode though that could be due to the fact that the premiere clocks in at one hour and four minutes on Hulu.  Or maybe it’s because I watched it right after finishing Fringe‘s spectacular “The Firefly” episode (SO DAMN GOOD) so the stakes were high.  I think that the problem was there was too much Kate.  Don’t get me wrong – I like the character – but she comes in very strong in almost every scene; there’s just no dynamics in tone.  I love a strong female character on television but to throw her in almost every scene playing savior in almost single scene can get tiring.  There was nothing to offset that.  On The X-Files, you had Mulder playing off Scully.  On Bones, the supporting team of Squids provided humor to balance out Dr. Temperance Brennan’s lack of people skills.  Agent Olivia Dunham on Fringe has Dr. Walter Bishop’s fondness for strawberry milkshakes to make people forget how she rarely smiles.  As much as I loved Gilmore Girls because of Lauren Graham’s portrayal of Lorelei (hey, she made it cool to be a chatterbox…), Kate Reed reminds me of a more mature Lorelei Gilmore who looks all sexxxy like Kim Kardashian.

One final thing I want to note before I wrap this sucker up: The Wizard of Oz analogies scattered throughout the episode, beginning with the Wicked Witch of the West’s theme playing in the opening scene to notify Kate that Lauren was calling her cell phone.  Each main character who called Kate’s cell phone had their Caller ID and ring tone set to a character/song from the movie.  Lauren was the Wicked Witch, Kate’s brother was the Scarecrow, Anders!!! Justin was the Tin Man, Leonardo was the Cowardly Lion and her father was (what else?) the Wizard.  Kate, naturally, was Dorothy and that was less than subtly: she wore a blue coat and there were several shots of her shoes, which looked red from underneath.  It could’ve been overkill, but I liked it.  It did what it probably set out to do: provide pre-characterization for each character as Kate saw them so we knew what we were in for.

I have a 5 episode rule for new shows that don’t completely suck and/or turn me off within 5 minutes, so I’ll keep watching Fairly Legal.  It’s almost there; it’s right at the cusp of that “quirky good time” it’s aiming to be.  Count me in as one of them people rooting for the show to grow into its full potential.

Did anyone out there reading this watch the series premiere of Fairly Legal?  What did you think?


[Fairly Legal airs Thursdays on the USA Network.  It can be found on Hulu here.]

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