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I’d be lying if I said the thought of yet another legal series on TV had me jumping for joy. It’s not that I dislike the genre, but with so many shows centering on law firms and lawyers, with varying degrees of humor and drama, on TV today, it’s fair to wonder what might make one show really stand out above the others. Going into the pilot episode of USA’s Suits, I expected to find the characters charming and quirky in typical USA fashion, with the story more or less formulaic to what we’ve come to expect from a lot of today’s legal shows. Two charismatic lawyers team up and combine their knowledge and people skills to tackle tough but interesting cases, while also struggling with their own personal issues. It’s fairly standard, but it works well for Suits, thanks in large part to its characters.
Gabriel Macht plays Harvey Specter, a successful attorney with an appreciation for dressing sharp and taking major risks if it means advancing in his career. One of those risks is hiring Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams), a college drop-out with a shady past but an excellent book-knowledge of the law. Gina Torres (Firefly, Angel) plays Jessica Pearson, Harvey’s boss. And Rick Hoffman plays Louis, a sneaky man set to get in Harvey’s way and make us laugh with his excellent facial expressions.
The series introduces us to Mike as he’s earning cash by taking a law school examination for a paying customer, nearly getting caught in the process. This, added to his friend’s marijuana-selling ventures, is pushing Mike’s life further along a road he started down after he was kicked out of college. When the opportunity to work as Harvey’s summer associate at a prestigious law firm falls into his lap, Mike sees it as an opportunity to get his life back to where it was supposed to be. He’s extremely smart and quick-thinking, which would make him a great lawyer and despite not having a law degree, he has passed the Bar. Harvey decides to take a chance and hire him, which kicks off this shaky adventure between an ambitious lawyer with a boss to please, and a young but motivated sort-of-attorney ready to take his photographic memory, book knowledge of the law and street smarts into an actual courtroom.
The premiere episode, which runs over an hour, manages to squeeze in the set-up for the series, introductions to the characters, Mike’s transformation from budding criminal to practicing attorney, and his first real case, which is a sexual harassment suit. Between lawsuits and expensive suits, the pilot covers enough to give us a fair understanding of what we’re in for here. Success as a practicing attorney isn’t likely to happen overnight for Mike, especially considering he has a lot to learn and I’m thinking his past might not be completely behind him, but he’s off to a good start.
Harvey and Mike aren’t all that different from one another, despite their backgrounds and while we don’t exactly see them hit it off as newly made BFF’s in the first episode, you get the sense that there’s some common ground between the two. They are each other’s chance at a better future.
With series creator Aaron Korsh having a background in TV comedies (Notes from the Underbelly, Just Shoot Me, and Everybody Loves Raymond are among his credits), it’s no surprise that there’s an undercurrent of humor in this series, despite the serious nature of the work Harvey and Mike do.
Suits fits USA like a glove. The characters are fun, surprising and intriguing and the writing is smart and consistent, which is why this is exactly the kind of show that works for USA, especially during the summer.
Suits premieres Thursday, June 23rd at 10:00 p.m. ET on USA.