David E. Kelley's learned a couple of things in three decades of pumping out television shows: lawyers are weird, funny people; American viewing audiences will often accept quirk as a substitute for character development; and a sense of justice is more important than the fine points of law. Fortunately for Harry's Law, his unremarkable but quite likable new project which premieres on NBC tonight at 10 pm, Kelley also picked up a lesson from Mike Nichols and Primary Colors: It's always a good idea to give Kathy Bates a big gun.
Bates actually begins Harry's Law with a big joint (the gun comes later, as a rat eradication device and a means of avoiding paying protection money). A bored patent lawyer who defenestrates herself from her firm by means of a doobie, Yosemite Sam cartoons, and a deeply laconic mouthing-off, Harriet Korn lands a new law office in a former shoe store in a bad Cincinnati neighborhood. The story of how she got there is filmed in a way that suggests Kelley harbors an unfortunate desire to hit dancing-baby gold again. Bates is joined by Brittany Snow as a legal secretary who sets up an alternate revenue stream by selling off the leftover shoes from the prior tenant; Nate Corddry as a young associate at a large firm reinvigorated by defending the head of a local protection racket; and British stage and screen actor Aml Ameen as a college student with a cocaine problem who pays Harry back for his defense by coming to work for her.