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October 9, 2015

How to Tell If You're in a David E. Kelley Show

by Stephanie Earp, posted Jan 10th 2011 5:00PM
This week, Kathy Bates, an actress who has won Golden Globes, Emmys and an Oscar, will debut in her new show 'Harry's Law.' This is perplexing. Bates clearly has a love for television rarely evinced by successful film stars, but her roles on 'Six Feet Under' and 'The Office' are the TV equivalent of the Queen's sedate wave from her coach, as if to say 'Yoo hoo, I'm here, just being my awesome self, directing stuff and being in theater and just thought I'd remind you of how much I rock.'

'Harry's Law' is another thing altogether -- it's another legal show from David E. Kelley, a man so far past his best-before date that I'd blissfully forgotten he existed until the previews for 'Harry's Law' started running.

I can't explain what Kathy Bates is doing in this show. I can only guess that perhaps, with her busy schedule, she didn't realize what she was getting into. And lest this situation befall anyone else, I thought I'd draw up a quick list of warning signs that you too might be in a David E. Kelley show.

Are you slightly heavier than your average stick figure?
If you are, ask yourself if you frequently make cracks about your weight, using self-deprecating humor that, on the page, seems amusing, but said aloud, misses the mark and just makes the people around you feel vaguely uncomfortable. Do you also become unreasonably upset if other people make the same kind of cracks, either about you or about other people who are slightly heavier than an angel dancing on the head of a pin? Would you consider suing someone who made these remarks?

If the answer to any of these is yes, you may be on a David E. Kelley show.

Are you really, really skinny?
If yes, ask yourself if no matter what you might do later in your life -- from marrying the world's most famous lesbian or marrying Han Solo, to wearing a pink tutu to the Golden Globes as Jack Nicholson's date -- if you would still be primarily famous for being ridiculously skinny, even though you are actually quite talented and deserve better.

If the answer is yes, you may be on a David E. Kelley show.

Do you find yourself in situations that should be humorous, but aren't?
For example, does your office have a unisex bathroom that should lead to hilarious encounters, but instead it's mostly people whining about their relationships? Or, do you practice law out of a high-end shoe store in an urban ghetto?

If yes, you may be on a David E. Kelley show.

Are you about to get canceled?
While being close to cancellation is certainly no guarantee that you are on a David E. Kelley show -- you could be on any number of excellent shows and have the same fate -- the good news is that if cancellation comes swiftly, as it did for 'Girls Club,' 'Snoops' and 'The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire,' you'll be saved a lot of embarrassment, such as doing a strip tease while reciting a legal argument, moving to a half-hour comedy format, or doing crossover episodes with William Shatner. The bad news is it can pretty much kill your career; just ask Gina Gershon, Chyler Leigh or Kathleen Robertson.

Are you a criminal, and if so, do you have a heart of gold?
Whatever crime you may have committed, do you find that against all odds, you find yourself represented by a sympathetic and superior lawyer? A lawyer both young and agile, with a skill that belies his or her age, which would indicate they are just barely finished clerking? Do you find that when you explain to your lawyer that like Jean Valjean, you had to steal/shoot/rape/ whoever or whatever you stole/shot/raped for the greater good, that they suddenly get all fired up and deliver a closing argument so strong that even God weeps tears in heaven, despite the fact that about a million basic tenets of the justice system were overlooked or mishandled during your trial, and the judge overturns the verdict of the jury to make sure you get another chance?

If this has happened to you, congratulations -- you are in a David E. Kelley show, and you are just about the only person in the show that's going to wind up happy.

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Are you finding yourself in the midst of a musical for no logical reason?

January 11 2011 at 1:10 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Do you find your co-workers mysteriously disappearing between seasons to be replaced by cheaper generic replacements?

January 11 2011 at 9:28 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Are you acting in a court room scene where the judge comes in to render a decision and begins a speech that sure does sound like he/she is deciding one way. And then out of nowhere he/she whiplashes 180 degrees the other way for the verdict. Do you think, "Hey, that's cool how he did that 3 legal dramas ago. But now the surprise is no surprise at all."

January 10 2011 at 6:39 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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