Though I watch an alarming, copious number of cop dramas, this legal drama didn’t really sound like my sort of show – surprising given it aired on one of my most favorite networks, but eventually, I did my usual reading up on it plus heard good reviews from a friend, and found it actually did sound promising. Good thing I stuck with it because that reading sure paid off.
Upholding the law in the courtroom is all in the family. For the respected name of Reed, it is the family business. The family has their own law firm – Reed & Reed, started by the patriarch, Teddy. Only thing is… Kate Reed (Sarah Shahi) is no longer a lawyer. Leaving behind the life of late night research and court dates was a change easy for Kate. Instead she became a mediator – and she is darn good at it. Her brother (Ethan Embry) also left the world of hundred-dollar suits and wine-and-dining clients when he became a family man. Even her almost-ex-husband Justin (Michael Trucco) is an assistant D.A. Though the pair has mutually agreed to divorce proceedings, their relationship is far from over. Kate’s life is no longer right: Following close on the end of her marriage, her father passes away. A week late, she is headed back to the office but Kate is nervous about the will especially when it comes to the fact that her father had remarried a woman years younger than he – a woman who now owns half of Reed and Reed and all of its assets.
Lauren (Virginia Williams) loved her husband dearly and is by profession a lawyer – a career that assured her a managing partner title in the family business. Feelings between Kate and Lauren are mutual: Neither one of them like the other. To make matters worse, Kate despises Lauren because her father was happy with her and now she has to share what was meant to be her legacy with a woman who may legally be her step-mother but is barely any older than Kate herself. The two rarely see eye-to-eye but when secrets about Teddy’s past reveal themselves in the reading of his will, things get more than a little complicated.
Those of you who have read this blog for any length of time know that I go crazy over this (USA) network’s shows which is why it should come as no surprise to myself how much I adored this show, and yet… it unpredictably did. It is probably the best new show to be developed from them since Burn Notice albeit from a completely difference genre. Every little detail in this conceptual show sparkles – its quirks make it unforgettable and its concept makes it fresh. The scripts, acting and their respective characters are some of the best I’ve yet to come across. Fairly Legal has that special “something” that makes it stand apart from and above the competition.
Before even the pilot’s credits roll, we are keenly aware of the troubled or passionate dynamics between any two characters we may look closer at. Pair up Kate and Lauren and there are fireworks – clearly – and not the good kind. Watch the interaction between Kate and her loyal but hilarious comic book buff of an assistant, Leo and there is a relationship there. Interestingly despite Kate trying to make Lauren out to be the wicked witch (which she literally does – more on this later), Lauren is actually a very relatable, human character and not the stereotype “villainess” we love to hate. She does need to work on her own dislike of Kate where she always accuses Kate of being childish, Lauren can in fact play into their petty games with each other as well – she is equally guilty and yet like Kate, we cannot help but come to like Lauren, seeing her as more than Kate’s foe. Kate herself is insanely delightful! As a leading lady, I found her quick to like; a lover of all things Oz (her ringtones are even set to the characters in the story, hence Lauren’s being dubbed the Wicked Witch) and a woman who is constantly running late in turn dumping her hectic schedule on Leo’s shoulders, everything about this girl’s quirky personality is hard not to smile at. She has such a big heart for people – to see that their issues are resolved to everyone’s satisfaction that we sometimes loose sight of just how flawed she is how careless she can be in her personal relationships. This then brings us to her relationship with Justin.
It took me several episodes to realize the pair was not yet divorced which made their on-going relationship easier to accept – and I know there is a “new guy” in season two now but I loved these two together! Justin is oh-so-patient with Kate though he is far from faultless. Their witty banter was adorable and each time they were together it left me sighing with pleasure – hoping they’d reconcile even though the logical, experienced TV viewer part of me realized writer’s would never do that because it would just be “wrong.” Never mind that it would take us by surprise (as would have a different conclusion in the finale), it simply isn’t done. That doesn’t seem to affect the writing though which is sharp and quick with one-liners, and keeps us on our toes. This one has an uncanny ability to engage us not just in the lives of the characters but the revolving mysteries. The scripts then drop those mysteries altogether before then bringing it back again and surprising us with a kind of reaction that makes us realize that we’d forgotten about it but obviously still care. That is great writing.
If I could only say one thing about this show it’d be that is was fun. Every detail works together to create an environment that backdrops great stories and the actors do a superb job at making their characters seem human. The filming could be better in their flash-back depictions but it is modern and stylish, keeping up with trends without making the cuts awkward or disrupting the frames. Favorites included the pilot as well as the finale. It was one of the more emotional ones I’ve seen in a long time in an unconventional way without being the kind of cliff-hanger that makes us unable to stand the wait. No doubt about it, Fairly Legal is the surprise hit of the year – at my house that is.
(Content concerns: Kate and Justin fall into bed half a dozen times. She is seen walking around in his shirt, and a post-morning shot. There are one or two other sensual scenes between them. Once to resolve a dispute, Kate has him walk outside naked [we see a full shot of him and another man without seeing anything]. Various sexual innuendoes are a part of the scripts as is profanity here and there. One man is hit by a truck [blood pools around his head]. Characters lie and affairs are uncovered as well as social drinking. It is rated TV14.)