tek's rating: ½

Fairly Legal, on USA Network
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Caution: potential spoilers.

Okay, there's this San Francisco law firm, Reed & Reed, which was founded by a lawyer named Teddy Reed, who at the start of the series has recently died. His daughter, Kate Reed (Sarah Shahi), was a lawyer in the firm, but at some point she quit, at least as a lawyer. She still works for the firm as a mediator, in which capacity she helps opposing parties "get on the same page" out of court. Meanwhile, she doesn't get along well with her stepmother, Lauren Reed, who she isn't happy about her father having married (and who isn't significantly older than Kate). Of course, it also isn't easy for Lauren having to deal with Kate, even though they both loved Teddy. And now that Lauren's managing partner of the firm, she's having trouble keeping clients from taking their business elsewhere, after her husband's death; but Kate proves helpful with this, in spite of their differences. Then there's Justin Patrick, an Assistant District Attorney from whom Kate is in the process of getting divorced, though they're still sort of friendly (and still occasionally sleep together). But, like Kate's late father, Justin believes in the letter of the law, whereas Kate is much more interested in justice, which she sees as sometimes incompatible with the law. Which is why she's no longer a lawyer. But Justin can still be helpful to her in her mediation cases. And she has an assistant named Leonardo Prince who is also a great help to her, as well as being a good friend. He's into stuff like computer RPGs and graphic novels (he's actually writing one) and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and stuff like that. Kate also has a brother named Spencer, formerly a lawyer for the family firm, who's now a stay at home dad, while his wife works (but we rarely see him on the show).

Anyway, Kate's life is obviously pretty complicated, particularly because she usually has more than one mediation case going on at once (sometimes these cases are assigned to her by Judge Nicastro (Gerald McRaney), who threatens to hold her in contempt of court if she doesn't settle the cases quickly). Because of all this, she does a lot of running around, and rarely gets to her office, which means Leo (or sometimes Lauren) is left stalling with the people Kate's supposed to be mediating. It also means she never has much time to deal with personal stuff, which is just one more thing that bugs Justin. Her job always takes priority over their own issues. (Though that seems a bit hypocritical to me; it's not like he doesn't take his own job seriously, so I think it's unfair of him to always act like the injured party just because her schedule is often inconvenient for him.) Anyway, Kate is often worried that she's not living up to her late father's standards. However, at one point Kate and Lauren find out that Teddy's will had one other beneficiary besides them: a man named David Smith, whom neither of them had ever heard of. Kate tries to find out who he is. She eventually meets him, and learns some things about her father that make her question his legal ethics, but I won't say any more about that. She doesn't tell Lauren she'd found Smith, though Lauren finally finds out in the first season finale. Which, by the way, was a pretty bad day for Kate in various ways. It's all the usual stuff, of course: multiple mediations, personal stuff with Justin, and all that. But it's worse than usual, and it ends with Lauren buying out David Smith's share of the firm, I guess, and then firing Kate (even though Kate still owns half of the firm).

And in season two, Kate comes back to work at the firm. Also, a successful lawyer named Ben Grogan buys his way into the firm, which means Reed & Reed is now a partnership between Lauren, Kate, and Ben. Oh, and for reasons I won't get into, Kate starts living in Lauren's house. Anyway, um... I should say, Ben isn't the most likable guy. Very snarky and obsessed with winning, and nearly Kate's ethical opposite. So obviously, the two of them don't get along well. And he doesn't get along well with Lauren, either. But he's kind of necessary, because the firm continues to struggle. And I should also say... it took a few episodes, but I eventually started to find him a good addition to the show. He's fairly amusing, and provides conflict that just sort of works, storywise. And he's not necessarily a bad guy, even if his road isn't as high as Kate's or even Lauren's. Um, and I should also mention that Kate and Justin finally get divorced, but their relationship remains complicated. They still care about each other, and they still fight, and... well, there's another personal plot point I won't spoil. But I will say that Justin decides to run against the current District Attorney, Aaron Davidson. And in spite of Kate's increasingly complicated feelings toward Justin, she still believes he's the better candidate.

Anyway, the show's reasonably funny, slightly quirky. I definitely find Kate to be a likable character, and I enjoy her style of mediation. I also like Leo (whose interests are much the same as my own). Oh, and I should mention there's a girl named Kim, who delivers sandwiches, and who is a potential love interest for Leo. Well, it's a fun show, and the cases each week are fairly interesting, and uh... I guess that's all I can think to say.

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