Wednesday, April 06, 2011

harry's law finale

Article first published as Television Review: Harry's Law - Finale on Blogcritics.



After 12 episodes I still really like Harry's Law. The main characters are great and have a good rapport with each other. The stories are wacky and outlandish sometimes, but they work in combination with Kathy Bates's indomitable will and general state of irritation. She's a curmudgeon with a grudgingly warming heart and such a pleasure to watch.

Lawyer shows are always an either/or proposition — either the protagonists will win or lose the case of the week. There's no way around the clich√© structure since the early days of Perry Mason. Harry's Law has decided to mess with that formula by always winning, so the show became more about the social interaction of the characters than the issue-of-the-week. When, on the rare occasion of Harry's firm losing a case, she and her lawyers still won't take no for an answer and vow to keep pursuing their case in a higher court.


Harry the character makes quite an impression on everyone she meets — not always a positive one, but still quite an impact. Especially nice about this show is that many of the quirky personalities she runs up against don't do just a one episode walk-on, but tend to drift in and out of her life and the show. Recurring characters like Tommy Jefferson (Christopher McDonald), a high-profile huckster who is attracted to Harry's integrity like a moth to flame; Kim Mendelsohn (Camryn Mannheim), a beyond-tough assistant district attorney who can screw over the firm's defense in a few short words and then ask the lawyers if they want to hang out after the trial; Josh Peyton (Paul McCrane) the district attorney who started the season off aggressive and obnoxious and ended in, well, the same way, but also vulnerable and strangely likable; Damien Winslow (Johnny Ray Gill) a street hustler who runs a protection racket and ends up being Harry's bodyguard and neighborhood advisor.


The best part about the finale was the last scene. Like a scene in a play, Kathy Bates and Nate Corddry, the two star players, sat quietly discussing the day as the lights faded to black. It was very theatrical, a nod to Bates's Broadway acting career and the general theatricality of the show. And it was also nice. These people are likable. And I'm looking forward to checking in on them again and hope that Kathy Bates and Co. are back for a new season of dramatic lawyering and shoe selling.


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