One of my favourite shows of all time, if not my absolute favourite, is Boston Legal. How I miss it. Clever plots, snappy dialogue, the bromance between William Shatner and James Spader, Candice Bergen showing every actress under the age of 40 how to play ‘Ice Queen’. My favourtie moments were when Spader, playing smart-mouthed lawyer Alan Shore, would launch his closing argument against some morally corrupt individual or corporation (sometimes even government itself), a blistering mix of vitriol and righteous indignation. The screen felt as though it was crackling with sheer energy. Its cancellation back in 2008 left a big hole in my life.

Then along came Suits. It has so many of the same ingredients as Boston Legal. The legal plots are full of cases that are unwinnable, yet are often (but not always) won. The dialogue is as sharp. There is even a connection between senior partner Harvey Spectre and new associate Mike Ross, although right now this feels more like some Karate Kid-esque ‘mentor-mentee’ dynamic than a bromance. I enjoy it for all the reasons I did the former.

But there are some major gaps between the two. The first is we are dealing with primarily business law here, as opposed to criminal and civil action suits. The plots are all about takeovers, mergers, dismissal claims. There is little space for the kooky aspects of law, or for tacking bigger social issues. Perhaps this is why I find Suits less satisfying than I perhaps would like. There’s no big arena for the good guys to make their point, no opportunity to grandstand. Everything is solved behind the scenes, often through some veiled threat about public humiliation.

There is also a darker underbelly in Suits, or at least one that is more omnipresent than in Boston Legal. Everything is dependent on careful machinations. If Boston Legal was about convincing the opposition you are right, Suits is about manipulating them into thinking you are right. Plant the right seed, the right way, and allow the recipient to grow the thought in their own time. Everybody is a puppet to person who can pull the strings best. Victory is only gained by getting dirty.

Despite this, Suits is to all intents and purposes an enjoyable show. Perhaps we just need to remember not all those on the side of the angels are them. Besides, there’s a fabulous new baddie. Former senior partner Daniel Hardman is back, a man so black-hearted he makes Rotweiler-in-human-form Louis quiver. It seems like being the good guy is going to mean playing nastier than ever.

 

Advertisements