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TV Review: Harry’s Law with Kathy Bates

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I hate lawyer shows. I used to watch Law and Order when Jerry Orbach was on it, but never liked the law part of the show, especially Sam Waterston’s annoying DA. I don’t like arguing for the sake of it—or I should say, watching others do that. I really don’t like all the little catches and loopholes in the law that could affect someone in a good or bad way, depending who’s writing this week’s script. Which is why Harry’s Law appeals to me. Many are saying its target audience are Golden Girls from Bates’s generation who miss Murder She Wrote. I’m sure the show will appeal to them, but I used to like watching Jessica Fletcher solve her biggest-guest-star-dunits with my grandmother, too. How can you not like Cabot Cove, the murder capital of the world? It was Angela Lansbury, for Pete’s sake.

And that’s exactly why it’s fun watching Harry’s LawKathy Bates. She’s having a blast being ornery, saying all the curse words that her time slot will allow (asshole … asshole). And she’s Kathy Bates. It’s refreshing to not see yet another show headed by an unbelievably thin and perky cast. There is the token cast cutie in Brittany Snow, who thankfully also seems to have a sense of humor. Nate Corddry is a great foil and sidekick. The show is supposed to be set in Cincinnati. I’ve never visited Cincinnati, but I’ve lived in New York and D.C. and I’m sure the bad part of town doesn’t look like the block where Harry’s Law and Fine Shoes are located, but who cares; we know it’s a backlot. That’s not the point. It’s a chance to watch Kathy Bates kick some smarmy lawyer butt and get the wind taken out of her sails at the same time, with one client wackier than the next. But like I said, it’s really not about the law, it’s about the personalities.

What this show really reminds me of are two great British shows that I used to watch, Hetty Wainthropp Investigates, starring Patricia Routledge and Kingdom, starring Stephen Fry. Maybe David E. Kelley has been watching BBC America reruns lately. Hetty Wainthropp was ostensibly a detective show, but no one, no matter how guilty, ever went to jail. They may have gotten a stern lecture or a “tut-tut” and an expressive roll of the eyes from Hetty, but that was about the extent of it. So far Bates’s Harry is 2-for-2 getting her criminals off-the-hook, too. Hetty was a fun hour watching Routledge and a very young Dominic Monaghan team up to solve crimes in Northern England. Kingdom starred Fry as a small-town lawyer surrounded by a cast of extremely eccentric but lovable characters, including the wonderful Tony Slattery, Hermione Norris and Celia Imrie.

Harry’s Law is so much more entertaining than the show that precedes it, the hyped but horrible The Cape. I’m so sorry, James Frain. I love you but I don’t know if I can sit though another episode with such heavy-handed music and dialogue like, “Either you wear the cape or the cape wears you.” Yikes. Or, “Every cop cell in my body tells me that guy’s bad news.” Seriously, a killer cape that can behead department store dummies? I just hear The Incredibles‘ Edna Mode’s voice in my head on an endless loop, “No capes!”

Instead of suffering through The Cape again maybe I’ll check out Kingdom on Hulu and Hetty on YouTube as the perfect openers to Harry’s Law. And Kathy Bates and her show can ride on the cape-tails of a comic, but deliver the real comedy.

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  • Frank_PA

    Truly awful claptrap. Beyond left-wing nonsense.

  • jeannine

    Love Kathy Bates, but HATED the FAR left liberal agenda behind this show. I will not be watching the show any more.

  • The politics didn’t bother me, as I saw it as being as exaggerated as the rest of the show. I like her enough to keep watching, and we’ll see if they can keep up the attitude or not.

  • wes

    Love Kathy Bates and was really getting into the show until she started a typical David E Kelley liberal rant. Oh well, cross off another one.

  • Rath

    Great show glad I keep watching it. It wouldn’t track that she’d be a conservative and don anything interesting. The only interest in lawyer shows is taking the underdog position. Matlock, perry mason et all. Conservative agenda would just be “Let’s defend the the billionaires against the people they poison!” boooring.

  • ShirleeK

    Oh for goodness sake, it’s a story!

  • phyllis h

    kathy bates is awesome.why can’t we just watch for fun,and leave the politics behind.

  • RayL

    This show is “My Name is Earl” meets “LA Law”….and fails on both levels. NBC would be better off finding writers who are more like their viewing audience and not some young guns who think they know how the world should turn. Kathy Bates gives a good acting performance but the script confines her to beeing a slobby know it all b____…we get enough of that in real life! The script is dreamy and unreal…the characters are not believable and the plots seems to have no direction(erupting in liberal discourse and fashion statements) or end. Will not waste my time with this:( R

  • Grace

    Harry’s Law starts here in Aus next Sunday on ch 9 and there has been a lot of hype around it. After reading this review I’ll give it a go for sure and I always love a bit of Kathy Bates!!

  • Boeke

    Kathy Bates is the best part of the show, which would be a throwaway without her.

    Incidentally, Bates herself is conservative, and in subsequent episodes has expressed conservative positions. I guess that makes it Fair and Balanced, although rightists may not be satisfied, look at the way they leaped with outrage after the first episode expressed some mildly leftist views.

  • wilma torres

    Love show & Kathy Bates is wonderful!
    People get over political mumbo-jumbo ,
    It’s a well acted show w/subtance & heart. Great Job Kathy we love you !