Powered by i.TV
December 21, 2014

'Harry's Law' Needs to Ease Up on the Quirk, Emphasize Kathy Bates

by Joel Keller, posted Jan 17th 2011 9:00AM
Scene from 'Harry's Law' on NBC. Debuting 1/17/11 at 10PM ETWhen I spoke to David E. Kelley last week, he was quick to admit that his new show, 'Harry's Law,' is a bit of a risky move for him and NBC.

Not because it's an unusual show or something no one's ever seen before, mind you. "The production values of shows have become so sophisticated that to ask an audience to be patient, to sit in the courtroom and listen to Q&A's, I mean, it's just, it's a bit old fashioned. And this show is a bit old fashioned," he said.

After watching the first two episodes, I definitely agree with him. It has all the hallmarks of a Kelley series: quirky characters and setting, cases that touch upon current societal issues, long courtroom speeches. Unfortunately, in this case, that's not such a good thing.

What the show does have going for it is a high-wattage star in Kathy Bates. She plays Harriett "Harry" Korn, a noted Cincinnati patent attorney who gets fired from her job at a big firm, mainly because she stopped caring about her work. Through a series of concidental accidents, she decides to open a jack-of-all-trades legal office in an abandoned shoe store in a developing neighborhood.

In this office, Bates is joined by her perky assistant Jenna (Bittany Storm), who knows what to do with the shoes the last tenant left behind, and junior associate Adam (Nate Corddry), who left his huge firm out of admiration for Harry, as well as a desire to change things up after a huge break-up.

The firm fields cases of all kinds, mostly walk-ins from the neighborhood. In the first episode, for instance, she defends a college-bound kid (Aml Ameen) who's about to go to away for a long time for a relatively small charge, thanks to the three strikes rule. And in the second episode, Harry defends a grandmother who robs a liquor store to pay her rent. Both episodes have Harry facing off against district attorney Josh Peyton (Paul McCrane), who's prickly and tends to repeat the last words of a sentence.

McCrane's character is the epitome of why the first two episodes were tough to watch. Kelley is great at making characters full of tics and quirks, but the first two episodes of 'Harry's Law' are so jam-packed with quirkiness, it's hard to figure out where the realness of the characters begin. In the first five minutes of the show, Harry is fallen on and then, when she recovers, is hit by a car. Both accidents work in her favor. A seeming thug (Johnny Ray Gill) who comes into Harry's office seeking protection money really has a heart of gold underneath the gang wear. Judges let Harry do her signature Kelley courtroom soliloquies even though she's never had to litigate before.

What's going to draw viewers to 'Harry's Law' is Bates; she plays Harry with her usual combination of likable grouchiness. Harry doesn't have any family and has become disenfranchised by the law; this storefront law firm is her opportunity to help people and reinvigorate her own life and career. The more we explore that, the more we see Harry out of the courtroom and thrust into unusual situations, the better this show will be.

Kelley did mention in our interview that viewers will see more of that as the series goes on. Let's just hope that he has the chance to make that adjustment; the bones of a good series are here, it's just needs a little time to shed a bit of its "Kelley-ness."

'Harry's Law' debuts Monday, January 17 at 10PM ET on NBC.

(Follow @joelkeller on Twitter and at www.facebook.com/joelkeller.)

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

11 Comments

Filter by:
Brian Bell

This should be a remake of Matlock. Take Harry out of the shoe store and get her to different cities perhaps as she is doing her pro bono work. I want to see more out of her character because I was not impressed when she was facing disbarring. Her comeback came too late. We should not have to wait for something better out of this show. Don't get me wrong. I like it, but there are areas for improvement. Snow's character should not return for the second season. Either it gets written in or not. There are too many characters that are taking away from the focus of Harry and that is a big problem. So don't develop the supporting cast. They need to focus on Harry.

February 15 2011 at 6:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Melissa Crane

This is my new favorite show. I love the characters. Call it quirky and cheesy, I don't care. I think it's funny and it makes me laugh. Sometimes I just want to be entertained.

February 08 2011 at 5:42 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
nicolopulo

I looked forward to this new show from David Kelly and was not disappointed. Kathy Bates is so enjoyable and the goofy supporting cast as well. I have told everyone I know about this new show. However, this show should not be up against Castle. Move it to another time slot and you'll have a hit.

February 01 2011 at 10:19 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Carol

Enough already with the liberal ajenda and the bleeding heart lies........an 87 year old black women would
get food stamps housing allotment and most certainly be eligiable for medicade........they are not dying
of starvation............N B C.,,,,,,,,crap channel..........too bad the show could be great but I am tired of the
lectures and progressive liberal story lines.............count me out on this show..............see yah

January 31 2011 at 12:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Fran

The cheese factor and the preachy factor has to come waayyy down. Poor guy down on his luck can't catch a break. Give me a break. I want a story, not a lecture. This kind of garbage is where the term Hollywood Liberal got its term. The same formula, Raising the Bar, failed on cable. There are real life scumbags and they need legal representation too. Let's see more of those represented in these shows and less girl-steals-one-time-in-her-life-to save-grandma stories. I love the shoes though! Although they never would've survived intact in a poor neighborhood.

January 21 2011 at 7:56 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Philip

The quirkiness was not the problem. There was so much hokum that I felt embarrassed watching it all the way to the end. A lawyer's office and a shoes store is just plain stupid. When SNL did the "it's a floor wax and a breath mint" that was funny 35 odd years ago and only funny if you recall the Certs commercial of yesteryear.

January 19 2011 at 4:33 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Brad456

DOA
at this rate if I hear David E. Kelleys name attached to any project. I will not watch it.
he burned all his bridges with Boston legal (a god awful show) and now this.
Let me clue you in on a Hollywood secret.
nobody likes watching old unattractive people, trying to be funny.
if you like that crap move to england.

January 18 2011 at 3:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Christina Draper

LOVED it too! It was funny, relevant and yes quirky. Bates was great, but so were the supporting players. We just watched the pilot, and even the three 'thugs' that came in at the end looking for a patent lawyer had a certain charm to them.

I HOPE NBC and viewers give this show a chance, it more than deserves one.

January 18 2011 at 12:16 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
dialm4mry

Loved it! The writing genius that is David E. Kelley is enough for me. Kathy Bates is the cherry on top. There is so much drivel on anymore that when a truly intelligent individual puts pen to paper and adds some opinions (that I just happen to agree with) I'm a happy camper. Can't wait to see this one unfold!

January 18 2011 at 10:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
frankofdoom

Brittany Snow, not Bittany Storm

January 18 2011 at 10:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Follow Us

From Our Partners