Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Fairly Something Alright

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).

Lauren screaming into an ice bath… clearly she had a day FULL of Kate.

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.

Kate’s hottie ex-Justin — I’d throw my arms up in the air if dealing with Kate too…

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.

Ben, the best part of season two…

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 ratingFairly 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

Tele-Tuesday: March Madness, TV Style

Television programs air sporadically today, and we’re not safe assuming (we all know what that really means) all new series and returning shows begin in September and January.  It’s simply not true anymore.

Since introducing so many new programs to 2012 in January, we decided to take the first few weeks of February to provide a breather of sorts.  But now we’re back, introducing yet another pilot series to ABC and two returning sophomores to Fox and USA that perhaps not everyone will be familiar with.

What will you watch?

*****

GCB

Originally Good Christian Bitches and later Good Christian Belles, GCB follows a former high school Queen “B” (Amanda, played by Leslie Bibb from Crossing Jordan) after she returns to her home town (Dallas) following a divorce and moves in with her mother (Annie Potts, Designing Women).

Despite the fact that Amanda left her “mean girl” days behind her, the girls she terrorized in high school haven’t quite forgotten the way she treated them.  Everyone, including Amanda’s mother, seems to be stuck in the past and the tables have turned on her.

GCB also stars: Kristin Chenoweth (Pushing Daisies) as Carlene, Marisol Nichols (24) as Heather, Jennifer Aspen (Party of Five) as Sharon, and Miriam Shor (Damages) as Cricket Caruth-Reilly, the girls Amanda terrorized in high school.  The series wouldn’t be complete without the husbands: David James Elliott (JAG) as Carlene’s husband, Ripp; Brad Beyer (Jericho) as Sharon’s husband, Zack; and Mark Deklin (Lone Star) as Cricket’s husband, Blake, who happens to have a Dallas-sized secret of his own.

GCB premieres Sunday, March 4thon ABC.

*****

Breaking In

How many shows can actually say they have officially survived a literal network cancellation?  Not many; Fox first resurrected Family Guy in 2004 after watching continued success of the previous seasons in DVD sales and reruns airing on Adult Swim.  And now Breaking In can, a Fox program originally cancelled in May 2011.

Breaking In follows a team of “legitimate thieves” working at Contra Security, a high-tech security firm.  Clients hire Contra to break in and highlight flaws in security systems already in place.  For example, in season one the Contra team is hired to break into a house with a supposed impenetrable security system in an attempt to retrieve a valuable belonging to the homeowner.  Later, they discover that the house belongs to their team leader, who unbeknownst to them happens to be on the verge of a nasty divorce.

Perhaps our favorite episode of the first season was when the Contra team was hired to protect an invaluable DVD sequel until its national release party at Comic-ConGoonies 2.  The pop culture references and comedic events were absolutely spot-on and hilarious, at least for those of us who will forever be a Goonie.

The Contra team is led by Oz (Christian Slater, Heathers), a man who loves to play mind games on his staff… a staff composed of: Cameron (Bret Harrison, Reaper), a genius with top-rated hacking abilities; Cash (Alphonso McAuley), a gadget guy and hacker; Melanie (Odette Annable, House), the hot girl with safe cracking abilities; and Josh (Trevor Moore), the master manipulator and master of disguise.   Season two will see a new, yet familiar face at Contra Security when Megan Mullally (Will & Grace) joins the cast as Veronica, Contra’s new boss.

Breaking In returns to Fox Tuesday, March 6th.

*****

Fairly Legal

We love the USA Network’s programs here at Tele-Tuesday, which is why when Fairly Legal premiered last year we immediately checked it out.

Fairly Legal follows Kate Reed (Sarah Shahi, Life – a great short-lived series, by the way), a former attorney turned mediator working at her father’s law firm in San Francisco, as she deals with life both professionally and personally following a failed marriage and her father’s untimely death.

Kate, while extremely beautiful and successful, lives life by the seat of her pants.  She resides on her father’s boat, arrives late to almost everything, and relies heavily on her assistant (Leonardo, played by Baron Vaughn) to keep her day straight.  Once Kate arrives at the office, she not only has to deal with arguing clients assigned to her by the courts (especially those difficult cases assigned by Judge Nicastro, played by Gerald McRaney), but also with her new boss and step-mother, Lauren (Virginia Williams, Monarch Cove).

Unfortunately for Kate, her professional life isn’t the only thing leaving her rushing around with her head cut off.  Factor in her soon-to-be-ex husband Justin (Michael Trucco, Battlestar Galactica), who she continues to have an on-again/off-again relationship with, and the secrets surrounding a man (Richard Dean Anderson) involved with her father prior to his death, and Kate’s life is hectic.

Fairly Legal returns to the USA network Friday, March 16th.

*****

Will you watch GCB?  Do you agree with ABC’s decision to change the title?  How about Breaking In and Fairly Legal?  Did you catch the first seasons and if so, what did you think?  I’d love to hear from you!