Review: NBC’s Harry’s Law – If Only It Was Better

No spoilers.

NBC’s Kathy Bates vehicle Harry’s Law would be such a great show… if it wasn’t the way it was.

Maybe it is the David E. Kelley trademark or maybe it is the half-hearted execution of an already flimsy premise.

Kathy Bates is Harriet Korn, a successful patent lawyer who’s tired of patents, gets fired for slacking off the job (by watching cartoons while smoking a joint no less), then gets flattened by a young man (Malcolm played by Aml Ameen) jumping off a building to commit suicide and soon after gets hit by a car driven by an attorney (Adam played by Nate Corddry) she had gone up against once upon a time.

Her two near death experiences compel her to buy a foreclosed shoe store to set up her own law firm to defend the defenseless. Along with her assistant Jenna (Meg Pryor Brittany Snow), Adam and Malcolm, Harriet starts her schmaltzy, preachy, new criminal law career and in turn a new chapter in her life.

And that is exactly the problem. The pilot came across as schmaltzy and cute… odd, sure, this is a David E. Kelley series. But the quirks feel awfully forced and unnatural, the one-liners and sight gags not far from seamlessly woven into the series.

It doesn’t help that the main case of the episode (that of Malcolm who is being charged with drug possession) ends up with a predictable and syrupy sweet ending that doesn’t help the uneven tonal shifts that could have better handled.

The series isn’t helped visually either as every set is so obviously a Hollywood backlot that it adds to the show’s feeling of being a half-hearted effort by Kelley and the rest of the production.

Kathy Bates does what she can with such an uneven script in one of those unfortunately too often “They deserve better material”/”Their talent is being wasted” situations. The rest of the cast, namely Snow, Corddry, and Ameen, also have potential but aren’t given much to chew on.

Harry’s Law with all its flaws still has potential to be something else… a good show. A quirky, off-beat law show needs to have more than just producers and writers and directors phoning it in.

There’s something here if only they cared enough to try harder.

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