by Larry Brody
…Really I have.
But neither the first season nor the just-ended season two have worked for me.
Don’t get me wrong. The star, whose name I can never remember (if I were her agent this would worry me), is cute and perky and talks even faster than Matt Smith as The Doctor. And the rest of the cast is uniformly attractive and believable too. The constant banter doesn’t even bug me because, let’s face it, that’s the way all the TV writers I know talk to each other at lunch. (Yeah, we’re an oh-so clever bunch.)
But that cute and perky, fast talking character played by the cute and perky fast talking star bugs the hell out of me. She’s annoying in the same way teenage daughters are annoying, absolutely certain that she’s right, refusing to see any other point of view, and lying and manipulating everyone she can every way that she can in order to get what she wants.
What? You’ve never had a teenage daughter and don’t know what I’m talking about? Your 9 year-old girl child is just precious as can be? Wait two or three more years. You’ll see what I mean.
Cute Perky Fast Talking Character wouldn’t bother me so much if I saw any hope for her. Which is to say if there was even a glimmer of self-awareness about her, a sign that she’ll start seeing how insufferable she is and let herself grow up. I keep dipping in and out of the show because P.R. material for both seasons has proclaimed that she’s a brilliant legal mind who has problems handling people but it’s okay because we’re all going to get the chance to watch her mature. So far, though, there’s not a sign of that happening.
Instead, all signs point to an otherwise quite expert writing staff (or staffs because there seems to have been a big change between seasons) hampered by a total inability to understand how real human beings relate and behave and feel and think. CPTFC’s personal M.O. is to want something from someone she loves (usually her ex-husband because, you know, exes all secretly love each other forever, right?), demand it from that person, fail because what she wants is ridiculous, and then lie and cheat to make that thing hers anyway. For which she is punished by a withdrawal of the other person’s love – until next week when all is forgiven so CPTFC can start the process all over again.
Professionally, as a court-appointed mediator, she does exactly the same thing. She gets a ridiculous idea about how to solve a conflict, presents it to both sides, is rebuffed because what she’s asking is nuts, and then she lies and cheats to make it happen anyway. For which, however, she is cheered and praised and rewarded because betraying clients for their own good is, I suppose, the best thing a lawyer can do.
In other words, I disagree with every choice the writers of this show have made regarding ethics and honesty and just plain storytelling on every episode I’ve seen.
Will FAIRLY LEGAL be back for a third season? No one’s saying.
Should viewers watch it if it comes back? Or in re-runs now? Well, sure, okay – but probably with the sound off and your eyes firmly on the Cute Perky Fast Talking Star’s really nice legs.
Should writers wanting to break in watch it and think they’re learning how to write terrific drama and devote weeks to writing spec episodes of the show to wow agents and executives? Well, I’d say that while FAIRLY LEGAL demonstrates the kind of good, tight conversational rhythm you definitely need to know, imitating this show isn’t going to teach you one single thing about adult storytelling.
Unless that’s the point?