Simon Baker (The Mentalist, The Devil Wears Prada) stars in the legal drama The Guardian, which ran for three seasons from 2001 to 2004 on CBS. Baker portrays hotshot corporate attorney Nicholas Fallin. After being busted for drugs, Fallin is sentenced to 1500 hours of community service at Children’s Legal Services.
An interesting dichotomy unfolds throughout this first season as Fallin balances his community service job representing children and their often heartbreaking legal woes, while at the same time maintaining his position in his father’s massive corporate legal firm. In one scene Fallin will be fighting to allow a desperate child to stay with his family, and the in the very next scene he will be brokering million dollar deals at the negotiating table between greedy corporations. The stark contrast in the priorities of his diverse clientele make for a compelling, eye-opening dynamic that is absent from many other legal dramas on television.
Simon Baker absolutely shines as the overworked, deeply complex attorney. He manages to make an abrasive character sympathetic and likable. As the season unfolds the audience learns more about Fallin’s background, and Baker handles every twist and turn with impressive performance after impressive performance. The strained relationship between Nicholas Fallin and his father, Burton (played by Dabney Coleman, The Trouble With Girls, On Golden Pond) is a running theme throughout the entire season. Watching these two go back and forth in Burton’s high-rise office is a real treat. Baker's monologue near the end of the episode "Family" is definitely a season highlight. He displays an outstanding ability to convey a wide range of emotions as he talks to a teenage family member about how to deal with a cancer-stricken mother. It should come as no surprise that Baker was awarded with a Golden Globe nomination for his role in The Guardian in 2002.
The pacing of this show is a little slower than viewers might be used to. Plots often develop gradually. Often times single episodes will follow litigation from Fallin & Associates and several cases from Children’s Legal Services. The dialogue-driven action may be a turn-off to people who require their programs to have a minimal amount of action, but those people probably wouldn’t be interested in this DVD set in the first place.
The 22 episodes that comprise the first season of The Guardian are very entertaining. Special features for this set are almost nonexistent. The lone feature, "CBS Series Launch Promos," are advertisements that are simply marketed as special features. Despite the lack of legitimate special features, this first season is certainly worth looking into for fans of well-written legal dramas or fine acting.