NBC is following its cancellation playbook by canceling Harry’s Law after one season, but star Kathy Bates won’t let them have the last laugh.
She will return this fall with her legal firm to an area populated by pimps and hookers and also serving as a shoe store.
Harry’s Law returned with a dramatic makeover in its second season after opening to much fanfare. Gone was its shoe store setting and replaced with more conventional legal drama elements similar to L.A. Law or The Practice with some humor from Boston Legal; Kathy Bates remains intact, but her character and cast have altered dramatically over time.
Harriet Korn of Bates no longer finds her work glamorous or exciting; instead, she’s found success as a successful but less-than-glamorous local attorney in Cincinnati’s rougher neighborhoods, first operating from within a shoe store with the name Harry’s Law and Fine Shoes before opening an actual office nearby in an unsavory part of town. On her staff are the likes of Christopher McDonald (Tommy Jefferson), Nate Corddry (Adam Branch), and Karen Olivo (Cassie Reynolds).
Harry’s clients may not always be the most promising. Sometimes they need someone to lend a helping hand – for instance, an overweight mother seeking compensation from fast food manufacturers or an overwhelmed college student contemplating suicide after receiving poor exam results. However, Harry sometimes takes on clients Madison Avenue prefers not to take on: people without much money and little influence over society.
Harry often takes on complex cases, knowing she must do them or no one will. Her actions often put her at odds with her moralistic superiors when she threatens criminals into surrendering or humiliates them into taking their own lives.
NBC made the mistaken decision to cancel this series after its second season due to insufficient viewership within Madison Avenue’s 18-49 age range, even though it drew more viewers than anticipated, even close to surpassing Smash in viewership numbers and close in comparison with Law & Order: SVU in audience size! There should be legislation against such misguided policies.
Harry’s Law was created by Emmy Award-winning writer and producer David Kelley (Boston Legal) and stars Academy Award Winner Kathy Bates as its title character. The series centers around a tough-talking patent attorney who takes cases that no one else wants but finds that sometimes things do happen for a reason; eventually, her world collides with that of a kind college student, former gang member, and an impressive lawyer, all who leave their firms to join forces at her rundown shoe store and form an unlikely team.
Harry’s Law features an ensemble cast that spans both veterans of legal drama and comedy genres and some new talent, with several stand-out figures highlighted below.
Brittany Snow as Jenna Backstrom (seasons 1 & 2): Jenna is Harry’s assistant and paralegal who also runs the shoe store; she loves pretty shoes and fashion, often wandering into supply closets when upset. Jenna can experience sudden mood changes triggered by anything.
Matt Servitto as Judge Lucas Kirkland: An overbearing judge who oversees many of Harry’s cases but disapproves of her various courtroom antics. Christian Clemenson as Sam Berman: An attorney from Harry’s former firm with whom she clashes, especially regarding attempts by this shady character to steal clients from her.
Frank Renzulli as “sleazy” Vinnie Delgato: Harry often uses private detective Vinnie Delgato for information regarding various cases she is working on, while at times trying to rape her as well.
Rashad Hood as Lewis Epps: Former gang member seeking Harry’s help transitioning out of gang life and enrolling at college. He feels she is responsible for him making this vital life choice – she was his inspiration in leaving gang life and going straight. Later, when Lewis needs liver transplant surgery, Harry assists in finding him a donor.
Alfred Molina as Tommy Jefferson: Tommy is a lawyer working alongside Harry to take on various cases, such as a case involving a gang responsible for kidnapping and killing her parents; their approach differs in how to approach this particular matter, which eventually causes friction between themselves.
Harry’s Law first debuted as a midseason replacement series in January 2011. At first glance, it resembled typical David E. Kelley legal procedural shows: quirky lawyers and receptionist, unusual setting (the office doubled as a shoe store). Yet it also took an innovative and intelligent approach by placing its characters within a working-class neighborhood with distinct challenges.
Harriet Korn is a former patent lawyer who opened her small law practice from an abandoned shoe store in Cincinnati’s roughest neighborhoods. Her extended work family includes Tommy Jefferson (Christopher McDonald), Cassie Reynolds (Karen Olivo), and other associates.
Nate Corddry and Brittany Snow round out the cast as two promising young lawyers who switch from corporate law firms to Harry’s firm. Johnny Ray Gill appears as a Robin Hood figure who protects residents without police intervening as quickly.
Harry’s Law made waves during its initial run. With fantastic characters and an inventive plotline, it shifted seamlessly between drama and comedy as viewers saw some surprising sexual content without overreaching itself or trying too hard. Harry’s Law stood out among its peers by being unique and original compared to traditional law shows on TV, making it stand out from others, such as Suits or Criminal Minds. Unfortunately, however, its second season saw something of a decline; still entertaining but lacking originality; perhaps ratings played some part here?
NBC’s new legal drama is performing impressively against Castle and Hawaii Five-0 in its time slot, premiering to 10.5 million viewers and maintaining decent retention through week two despite facing off against Castle’s heavy promotional episode featuring Beckett and Castle’s first kiss – an excellent feat considering what was at stake in terms of competition from Hawaii Five-0 and Castle.
Harry’s Law’s main problem lies in its overall concept. I believe David E. Kelley is an exceptional television show creator; unfortunately, his show lacks passion or emotion due to the ineffective execution of its vision. Kathy Bates may be a talented actress, but this role doesn’t showcase any of her charisma as other parts did; another issue with this show is its lack of passion or emotion, which I find particularly disappointing given how creative his previous projects were.
Some genuinely fascinating cases were featured in this episode, yet something about this show doesn’t stand out amongst all legal television shows. Perhaps it’s due to casting issues or just not as funny an episode as usual, but this was one of my most minor enjoyable episodes this season.