This week Amber West and I return to somewhat of a normal Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday review as we take on two of our favorite summer channel’s programs: USA’s new series Common Law and the returning Fairly Legal.
Now in its second season, Fairly Legal follows former attorney turned mediator Kate Reed (Sarah Shahi, Life) as she tries to change San Francisco for the better. On the exterior, Kate appears tough and callous, but anyone who actually knows her knows that she has a bleeding heart for those less fortunate – and by less fortunate, we only mean those that the rich can afford to beat down in a court of law.
Kate lets both sides tell their stories, and she typically sides with the underdog. Actually, even though she works for a large and prestigious law firm (founded by her recently deceased father), Kate doesn’t like much about Corporate America.
But Kate is good at what she does, and most of her cases are assigned to her by the courts and usually by a judge that keeps a stern fist with Kate (Judge Nicastro, played by Gerald McRaney, Simon & Simon). Trust us; Kate needs someone to keep her in line…
One of Kate’s only confidants is her assistant, Leo (Baron Vaughn), because for the most part, Kate alienates everyone around her: her step-mother/partner/roommate/boss, Lauren Reed (Virginia Williams); her ex-husband/ADA, Justin Patrick (Michael Trucco, Battlestar Galactica); and the firm’s most recent addition, her partner Ben Grogan (Ryan Johnson).
The first season of Fairly Legal was fresh — instead of the traditional TV police procedural or courtroom drama, we see a glimpse into the life of another legal aspect: mediation. Season one follows Kate, a highly flawed character who can fix anyone’s life but her own. We watched as she deals with the aftermath of her father’s death, working with Lauren without her dad around, and her separation from Justin. She lives on her father’s boat, broken from his death and her impending divorce, and really tries to ground herself as best she can.
But season two has changed the story – changed Kate in our opinion.
The boat is gone (some sort of leak caused an explosion), forcing Kate to now live with Lauren. Despite the obvious animosity shared between the two in season one, the Reeds really seem to be trying to work it out this season. Why are the two working so hard? To form a united front against the next big change – the new partner.
Reed & Reed (the law firm) is under water (not literally; it’s struggling), so Lauren brings in a cut-throat, no-nonsense attorney as partner along with this finances. Ben represents just the type of person Kate can’t stand – he’s arrogant, he’s successful, and he’ll do anything to win regardless of who or what might stand in his way – he’s the male version of Kate.
The character of Ben also brings a new twist to the show – the love triangle. In the first season, Kate struggles with her love for Justin but realizes she is better off without him. Now, Kate has two successful men vying for her attention. Honestly, this storyline is predictable and boring. Fairly Legal took something that wasn’t broken and attempted to fix it.
But the love triangle isn’t the only facelift to Fairly Legal this season. Something has changed with Kate – she’s borderline annoying. She’s pushy and argumentative, but in a different way from last season – she’s almost bratty. She’ll use anyone or anything to get her way, but then becomes overly argumentative when someone else uses her very same tactics to accomplish their goals. Kate was lovable in season one, and somehow she’s lost this appeal with the show’s new direction.
I figure the creators made these changes to save the show. The USA Network took a long time to announce when a second season would air, something that is very unlike one of my favorite networks (especially during the summer months). But since this is my review, I’m downgrading my rating to a JFTV rating – Fairly Legal is perfect TV viewing when you have what I like to call “boredom hunger” (when you grab that bag of chocolate that you’re only eating because there’s nothing else left to do). Last year, if I had reviewed Fairly Legal, it would have earned the MacTV rating. But the only thing worthy of my favorite cheesy shell this season is the character of Ben.
But keep this in mind, all of the said frustrations with season two don’t stop me from recording Fairly Legal and watching it when I’m caught up on everything else… so it’s still worthy of a watch.
What do you think? Do you watch Fairly Legal? Do you like the changes to the storyline in season two or did you prefer the first season? And since we brought up the love triangle, should Kate be with Justin or Ben? I’d love to hear from you!
Come back next week when Amber and I revisit two of our previously simmering reviews: Amber determines if Smash really is a “smash” hit and I try to give Lifetime’s The Client List the benefit of the doubt.
Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.
A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:
GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech