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Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Fairly Legal" Review: USA Welcomes Another Great Character

With such a great run of successful dramas with quirky characters, you’d think the day would come that USA’s luck would run out.

Today is not that day…

That’s when USA rolls out its newest drama, “Fairly Legal.” “Legal” stars Sarah Shahi as Kate Reed, who after becoming disenchanted by the law as an attorney, now works as a mediator. When we meet Kate, she’s returning to work after the death of her father, who ran the firm where she works.

Kate is forced to work with her stepmother, Lauren (Virginia Williams), who she hates, to try and keep the firm going. That means having to ask for favors from her soon-to-be-ex-husband, Justin (Michael Trucco), a San Francisco ADA. Helping Kate keep it all together is her assistant, Leo (Baron Vaughn).

In the premiere, Kate is court-ordered to mediate a lawsuit, but she also finds herself trying to do the right thing in a case involving one of the firm’s biggest clients. Of course, doing the right thing puts her in direct opposition to not only Lauren and Justin’s wishes, but also her father’s.

Shahi is fantastic in this role as she goes from quirky to crusading to vulnerable and is totally convincing doing it. Williams is perfectly cast as the witch, even though it appears she may not be quite as bad as Kate thinks. Ethan Embry (“Sweet Home Alabama”) also lends solid support as Kate’s brother, Spencer, who quit the firm to become a stay-at-home dad.

Kate’s methods of mediation may come off as just too easy or way too clever sometimes, but they’re still entertaining. And the resolution of the main case in the episode will definitely leave you wanting to see more.

“Legal” still has all the hallmarks of a legal drama—the battling attorneys, the passionate speeches and the behind-the-scenes deals—but the difference here is that they’re given the USA touch. And that means a good drama with great characters that you’ll grow to love.

Although with Shahi playing Kate, that won’t take long…

“Fairly Legal” premieres tonight (Thursday) at 10 p.m. on USA…

Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels/USA