First Impressions

Harry's Law

Aired on: NBC

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            I love Kathy Bates!  I believe her to be one of the most under-rated actors in the field.  I’ve seen her in such diverse film roles as an overweight Southern housewife with an ailing marriage struggling to find herself, an author’s number one fan…atical lunatic, a political aide with a conscience, the incomparable Molly Brown, a hard woman wrongfully accused of murder, a backwater no-nonsense mother and so much more.  This woman can act and is believable in every role she undertakes, which is why when NBC announced Kathy Bates’ return to primetime television in Harry’s Law, I couldn’t wait for the show to air at 10PMEST on January 17, 2011.

            As the show begins, we find Harriet Korn (Kathy Bates) laying back in an oversized chair in a rather large office, smoking a joint and watching Yosemite Sam cartoons.  Harriet is a patent lawyer who has become disenchanted with the profession.  When she is fired from the firm, Harriet must figure out what to do with her life.  Enter Malcolm Davies (Aml Ameen), and what an entrance he makes, falling out of the sky to land atop Harriet.  We later learn that Malcolm is a college student with a drug problem who was facing jail time.  On that day, he had decided to end his life, but it was apparently not his day to die.

            A bewildered Harriet leaves the hospital wondering what else the world has in store for her when she spies a For Rent sign on a store across the street.  Feeling that this For Rent sign holds an opportunity for Harry, she heads across the street toward her future…only to be struck by a car.  The driver, Adam Branch (Nathan Corddry), is a lawyer who tried a case against Harry in the past.  Amazed that Harry has not been seriously injured and knowing what an amazing patent attorney she was, Adam decides to offer up his services as an attorney for her new law firm. 

            So has Jenna Backstrom (Brittany Snow), Harry’s former secretary from her old firm.  She’s not worried that Harry can’t pay her the equivalent of what she was making before.  You see, the place Harry is renting for her new firm used to be a shoe store and there are some very choice name brand shoes left behind in that store.  Jenna sees her opportunity to help Harry make more money by creating a side job selling high-end shoes and providing Harry with assistance on cases.

            And then there’s Damien Winslow (Johnny Ray Gill), a local street thug who starts off his relationship with Harry by offering street protection for her business.  Harry offers him free legal aid instead of money and it isn’t long before Damien needs it, providing Adam his first criminal case as he defends Damien against a shooting and illegal gun possession charge.  We soon learn that there is more to Damien Winslow than the street thug persona he puts forth.

            Oh yeah…remember Malcolm?  Well he happens to be the firm’s first client.  Feeling that things happen for a reason, Malcolm comes to Harry for help.  He believes that she can help him beat his drug charge.  The first in his family to go to college, Malcolm is facing prison time for his third drug possession offense.  Having been in rehab before the clinic he was being treated in closed, Malcolm believes he can kick his drug problem, finish college and become a productive citizen of society.  His belief in Harry and Harry’s belief in Malcolm’s sincerity prompts her to take his case.

            The premiere episode of Harry’s Law has some predictability, there is no question, but there are some amazingly unpredictable moments, too, thanks to the show’s producer David E. Kelley.  This is the man that brought us such quirky series as Picket Fences, Ally McBeal, The Practice, Boston Public, Boston Legal and more.  This man knows that legal shows can be a tad boring and sometimes over the head of his audience and so, he spices things up.  His ingredients: quirky, but lovable characters, cases and clients that aren’t always what they seem, and interesting endings to those cases.  These have proven to be the perfect ingredients for a successful David E. Kelley legal series over the years and I couldn’t disagree with the formula.

            Harriet “Harry” Korn is an incredibly enjoyable character - a woman with spunk tackling a side of law she has never been involved in before with a vigorous spirit and incredible compassion.  She’s a character that any woman could look up to - a no-nonsense kind of girl willing to give up a guaranteed money-making job for something a little less profitable but a lot more satisfying.  And Kathy Bates, once again, pulls this character off perfectly.  This is the sort of role Bates excels in.  The supporting cast is equal to the challenge of performing with such a well-rounded talent as Kathy Bates.  David E. Kelley’s team did their casting well.  Each character is totally believable in their role and adds just that much more spice to an already enjoyable concept.

            In short, I loved the first episode of Harry’s Law and can’t wait to see what the rest of the episodes in the series have to offer.  Fans of David E. Kelley’s other series like Ally McBeal and The Practice are going to fall head over heals in love with Harry’s Law.  I, for one, will be seated right in front of the television every Monday night watching NBC at 9PM EST for The Cape and at 10PM EST for Harry’s Law.


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