Thursday, August 09, 2012
And yet, out of this pack has emerged one truly excellent show – SUITS. I shouldn’t say “emerged”; it’s more like “evolved.”
SUITS started out last summer like most USA Network shows – with a high-concept premise and quick beauty shots of New York. Gabriel Macht is Harvey Spector (no relation to Phil), a super-slick shark attorney with charisma and bravado to burn. Adam Levine without the tatts. He works in a sleek Manhattan law firm – the kind that handles the Bank of America and Charlie Sheen. He hires Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) as his junior lawyer/protégée. Mike is brilliant, has a photographic mind, but he is harboring a little secret that only Harvey knows. He’s not a real lawyer. He’s a law school dropout. But just saying you went to Harvard Law School apparently gets you a job in a prestigious New York law firm or a staff writing job on THE SIMPSONS. Yes, it’s a preposterous premise, but as the series unfolds that gets pushed to the background.
What surfaces instead are knotty legal problems, fun quirky characters, strong internal dynamics, and first-class writing. THE GOOD WIFE meets DOOGIE HOWSER.
I’m guessing at the start the focus was supposed to be on young Mike Ross. How was he going to avoid getting caught? How was he going to save the day by remembering a box score from 1985? But Harvey has become the true main attraction. Some actors just command the screen and Gabriel Macht is one of them. Best of all, you can just sense he’s having an absolute ball playing this character. And why not? He’s a cocky asshole who is smarter than everyone else and always right. If you can’t be Michael Phelps or Batman, this is the dude you want to be.
The side characters are also noteworthy. Especially Rick Hoffman as sleazy lawyer, Louis Litt. Picture Frank Burns but smart. The man can grovel and strut at the same time. Not easy to do.
Season one had more self-contained stories. Season two has a continuing arc of Harvey facing disbarment and the firm being taken over by a guy so insidious that even the ghost of Johnny Cochran has said telepathically, “If a lawyer’s that snide, I cannot abide!” These guys are always in a pickle.
What I admire most about the show is the storytelling. Series creator, Aaron Korsh and staff have an uncanny knack for trapping their characters with seemingly no way out. And yet, ingeniously and organically they do manage to pull a Houdini act week after week. To my knowledge it's the only USA series that doesn't end every week with a warehouse explosion.
SUITS airs tonight at 10. Well worth one billable hour a week.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM