Lawyers can be such a drag, that’s why USA Network’s new show Fairly Legal focuses on Kate Reed, a mediator extraordinaire.

fairly legal poster

Sarah Shahi (Life, The L Word) plays Kate, a character I can’t help but want to describe as “plucky.” She’s optimistic, sarcastic, and a bit of a rebel. You definietly get to see that she has a soft underbelly, but she’s no timid pussycat.

Michael Trucco (Battlestar Galactica, Castle) is Kate’s ex-husband and works with the D.A.’s office. So, yea, there’s tension there. Virginia Williams (Revenge of the Bridesmaids, How I Met Your Mother) is Kate’s evil stepmother, and her boss now that Teddy Reed (Kate’s Dad) is dead. While we never meet Teddy Reed, his affect on Kate means he still plays a large part in the show. (Hopefully we’ll meet him in a flashback episode someday!) Baron Vaughn (The Other Guys, Law & Order) is the amazing, uber patient, assistant who loves both both Dungeon’s and Dragons and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I would hang with him anytime to talk about the Buffy Motion Comic.)

Having seen the Fairly Legal pilot just last night as I held my brand new adopted kitten (cue the group “awwww” because she really is as adorable as you are imagining) I hopped to writing up this review. This show deserves all good press that it gets, because it was really fun to watch. It is highly likely fans will respond positively to the new series, and give USA Network yet another home run. I don’t do well with sports metaphors, or sports at all (they make me itchy and sweaty) but USA Network is proving itself worthy of the fictional “World TV Championships.”

Sarah Shahi slips into this role like it was custom-written for her to deliver. I believe her, I like her, and I love her clothes. Seriously! The character of Kate Reed is already one of my fictional TV best friends.

The pilot manages to unveil the different characters in Kate’s world without being overwhelming. In fact, one of the greatest things is that Kate is a modern day Dorothy and has corresponding ringtones for people in her life she’s amusingly cast as characters from The Wizard of Oz. The ex-husband is The Tin Man, the stepmother is The Wicked Witch of the West, the brother is The Scarecrow, the assistant is The Cowardly Lion and her father remains The Wizard. As gimmicky as this might sound, it actually plays beautifully in the pilot and I’m curious if the characters were actually written with these established fictional character templates in mind.

sarah shahi fairly legal

There were two things I didn’t love, and a review isn’t worth its salt if it doesn’t find something not to love. So, okay. There is a storyline in the pilot that involves a wedding and I didn’t care for it all that much, especially the rather predictable outcome. Relating to that, I’m a tiny bit nervous that one of my favorite bits of the pilot was when Kate was doing her mediating job, but in a much different (and one-time) format. Still, Kate is a fantastic mediator (I wish I had this skill set) and it’s entertaining to see her execute her job wherever she happens to be. If you ever wanted to be a diplomat, this might be another job to consider.

The Fairly Legal fashion gives you guys some really fun and beautiful clothes to lust after. Kate wears peep-toe Christian Louboutin shoes in the pilot. She has two great large bags you’ll see, a vintage-looking owl necklace, eggplant purple leather jacket, and a really amazing red leather trench coat with a belt. Kate has a good fashion sense, but she’s not at all prissy. Girlish, cute? Totally. (I’m thinking of one of the latter scenes in the pilot where she’s on the dock of her boat, jumping in boots….) She also does “sexy” well, and there’s even  a bit “hipster” that shows on the edges of her tastes. She’s probably not dressing as professional and subdued as her stepmother would like. Which is probably half the reason Kate will never change her closet.

What is there to look forward to past the pilot? Uh, pretty much tons. I want to see how Kate interacts with her neighbors in the future and I’m also feeling especially invested in her friendship with Leo (assistant) and the odd dynamic she has with her stepmother. I predict those two will be able to eventually bond, but with a great bit of forced tolerance being executed on both sides.

What I like about the character of Kate the most is her ability to be silly and strong.  The more I think about it, there are hardly ever that many comedic leads in a drama, especially if we’re talking about a female lead.

For those who find themselves fans of legal dramas, this a different approach to the world you love. Fairly Legal is a clear winner, and a primetime must-see for Thursday nights.

fairly legal picsFairly Legal TV Show Synopsis: FAIRLY LEGAL centers on Kate Reed (Shahi), a top litigator who became frustrated with the endless bureaucracy and injustice she witnessed on a daily basis and decided to become the ultimate anti-lawyer: a mediator. Using her knowledge of the law, along with intuition and a whatever-it-takes approach to resolving conflict, Kate finds the middle ground for a wide variety of adversaries — from Fortune 500 corporations to bitter divorcees. After the death of her father, she finds herself at odds with her new boss, her stepmother Lauren (Williams)…and in bed with her soon-to-be ex-husband Justin (Trucco), himself a lawyer in the DA’s office. Helping her keep all of this chaos at bay is her trusted, geek-chic assistant Leonardo (Vaughn).

Fairly Legal Guest Stars (per press release): Recurring guest stars include Richard Dean Anderson (“Stargate SG-1,” “MacGyver”) in the role of David Smith, a man who has a mysterious connection to Kate’s late father; Ethan Embry (“Brotherhood,” “House, M.D.”) portrays Spencer, Kate’s younger brother and a new father; and Gerald McRaney as Judge Nicastro, who has no tolerance for Kate’s lack of regard for the legal establishment. Other guest stars this season include Ken Howard, Peter MacNicol, Clyde Kusatsu and Anne-Marie Johnson.

And, who’s in charge? (per press release) From Universal Cable Productions, FAIRLY LEGAL was created and is executive produced by Michael Sardo (“The American Embassy,” “Wings”) and executive produced by Steve Stark. Russ Bucholz serves as co-executive producer.

virginia williams fairly legalFairly Legal Trivia:

  • Fairly Legal is filmed in Vancouver, BC.
  • Kate picks up a black and white cookie in the beginning of the pilot, yet throughout she tells people how everything is not black and white.
  • The original name of this series was Facing Kate. (I had liked that name a lot, and was bummed when it was changed.) It was changed for a good reason though, because test audiences thought it was a reality show about Kate Gosselin. (To which there is a high yuck factor. I would never advise you watch a show about that.)

The Fairly Legal premiere date is Thursday January 20, 2011. The premiere will be a 90-minute episode followed by nine, standard one-hour episodes. Let’s support the show and make sure it moves on to Fairly Legal season 2!

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