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TV Review: Harry’s Law – “Last Dance”

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NBC’s Harry’s Law just completed its first season this past Monday night. Only twelve episodes in the freshman season, not atypical, considering it did not premiere in the fall, though it is ending its run over a month before most of the spring finales. That’s bad news, because it’s been an enjoyable ride. At first, I thought it a lesser sibling to David E. Kelley’s other awesome legal dramas, The Practice and Boston Legal, but it began to come into its own in the second half of the season, setting itself apart from the other two, and starting to define its identity. Good news for fans of the show, it looks pretty likely it will be renewed for a second season, though it is not yet official.

While overall I am quite satisfied with the first season, I have some requests for season two. First, expand the cast. Four main characters is pretty small, especially for a Kelley series. Tommy (Christopher McDonald), Rachael (Jordana Spiro), and Damien (Johnny Ray Gill) all deserve upgrades. I would not argue against Peyton (Paul McCrane) or Judge Coulis (Amy Aquino) also making the cut, though find them less likely to, since they are more outside of the central circle. In a perfect world, Kim (Camryn Manheim) would join them, making a case for focusing on both the prosecution and the defense as The Practice did. But that is likely unrealistic, as she has already starred in a Kelley drama. I’d add Richard Kind to the list, but despite my affection for the actor, his character of Marty may not have the legs for full-time status. Just please make him recurring.

I’m also almost ready for a new office. Because the shoe store has served so little function, I think it will be time to upgrade the digs by at least the middle of season two. I like the idea of Jenna selling shoes at the same place the other practice law, but it has not yet been very important to the story, and certainly never been a major plot element. We can loose the store easy enough, though they should stay in the same neighborhood, as that has become a character unto itself. Kelley said that Harry would begin to work her way up the ladder as the series went along, so let’s see a bit of that. Just not so far up that she forgets where she is starting from. In conjunction with the set improvements, we also need some more income. Perhaps Tommy could join forces, but retain his type of clientele?

In the finale, Harry (Kathy Bates) defends Josh ‘Puck’ Peyton, a frequent court room sparring partner of hers. Peyton, known for his tendency to repeat phrases, has been facing a bit of a breakdown, having stripped and ranted in the courtroom an episode earlier. Apparently, the craziness continued as he walked into a house that wasn’t his, something that happened off screen before the episode begins. Harry is drawn to Peyton as she seems to be to all misfits who are essentially good people, and defends him. He gets off with a time served sentence, and a beautiful friendship is born. Let’s hope Peyton’s leaving the D.A. will not keep him off the series.

Could there be something more than friendship between Harry and Peyton? While Harry seems to resist any romantic story, Peyton does ask her to be his date to a legal gala. She turns him down because she already has a date, the often obnoxiously over the top Tommy Jefferson. Here, Harry is sought after by two men, at least to accompany them for the evening. Yet, only her offense at Tommy complementing another woman shows even the slightest interest on her part of anything beyond one evening. Personally, I’d love to see Harry pursue either Tommy or Peyton, both fun characters. This is a side of the character that needs development.

I do not understand the hesitation to take these steps towards romance. Perhaps it’s because Harry’s personality is so off putting, though that argument begins to fall apart when you look at just how many people befriend her whether she wants them or not. Either way, I think the older group needs to be given their relationship due as much as their younger counterparts.

Both Tommy and Harry have had exes appear on the show, both played by fabulous actors. Harry’s Marty (Richard Kind) is a defense lawyer, while Tommy’s Kim is an assistant D.A., which opens up the door for both of them to return. It also means a Tommy-Harry pairing could come complete with already introduced past baggage to get in the way.

Adam (Nathan Corddry) has ended his love triangle as things come to a head with Rachael (Jordana Spiro) in the finale. The two work together to try to stage an appeal for a client on death row (The Blind Side star Quinton Aaron). Of course, their feelings get in the way, as Adam has recently left his girlfriend and declared ongoing emotions for Rachael. Rachael, in turn, proposes to her boyfriend as a reaction. Her strong mood swings, one moment hating Adam, the next calling him her best friend, exhibit her own feelings for him, even if she has trouble deciding what to do. Kim lets the engagement slip in her office, making Adam ask for time apart from Rachael as soon as the case is finished.

Honestly, I didn’t know which element of the Adam and Rachael scenes to care about more. Obviously, I love me a good serial plot, and things between Adam and Rachael have been brewing for some time. I could have jumped up and down cheering when she shows up at his office at the end of the episode and kisses him. I assume she then left to break up with her fiance.

On the other hand, Aaron makes a fantastic guest star, and his story is extremely moving, especially after he loses his appeal. I hope he returns in season two so that Adam and Rachael have anther chance to save him from execution. I believe he’s innocent! Both Kim and Adam and Rachael made such strong arguments, I can accept that the duo lost. Yet, Aaron is such a great get for the show, it would be a shame not to see him again.

I’m still not totally on board with Jenna (Brittany Snow) and Malcolm (Aml Ameen) as a couple. She has such a strong personality that he is likely to be completely overshadowed by her. Plus, Malcolm is on the verge of getting his life together, and has a lot of work ahead of him. I don’t know he can possibly do well in law school and put up with the very high maintenance Jenna. I like both of them separately, but think they would work better with other people. Should they continue, at least stop the pattern of her getting angry at him in every episode and giving him the silent treatment until he has to apologize for something he didn’t even know he did. Three consecutive episodes of it is fine, as have already been done, but any more, and it’ll get old really quick.

Thank you Kelley, Bates, and the rest for a nice show that proved pretty darn entertaining. I look forward to more of it.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com