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Harry’s Law: libertarian worldview/liberal rhetoric

Last night, for the first time perhaps since I moved to LA, I watched two one-hour dramas back to back.  Indeed, this may well have been the first time I watched an one-hour drama alone since Northern Exposure was cancelled, save when I tuned in to see an acting friend who snagged a part on a show.

I watched The Cape tonight for a similar reason, a friend of mine helped produced the show and Harry’s Law for another reason altogether, one of my favorite actresses, the accomplished Kathy Bates, headlined the program.  It’s great to see someone so talented on screen (big or small), but sad that she hasn’t had much screen time as she deserves.  If this show succeeds, then, on that score at least, justice will be served.

And it was nice to see a TV show set in my home town, Cincinnati, Ohio.

I liked both shows, but admit being a little confused by The Cape. It seemed there were too many threads, but there was a lot of great dialogue and the pleasure of seeing Keith David on screen as the mentor to the young hero possessing the title garment.  Like Kathy Bates, he hasn’t had as much screen time as he deserves.  And whoah, what a voice.  What a voice.  Great casting choice.  He so works as the aging wise man.

And both shows were very well-written with snappy dialogue and well-conceived plots.  

The latter show, however, seemed to be trying a bit too hard to push Democratic talking points with Kathy Bates’s Harry, while engaging the prosecutor in a debate on drug legalization, added an aside on how while conservatives were the first to propose ending the “drug war,” the party has since been hijacked by Rush Limbaugh and his ilk.  As if series creator David Kelley just had to promote the narrative that the GOP has lost its libertarian moorings.  And even though Bates’s Harry later acknowledged her ambivalence on said war, when she took on her courtroom rival, she articulated arguments which warm the heart of many a libertarian.

Had they cut that one line about Limbaugh, I would have no objection to the show.  That debate on the drug war coupled with the trial of another character, Johnny Ray Gill‘s Damien Winslow, who runs a protection racket in a “bad neighborhood” (didn’t the writers do any research on Cincinnati so they would know to call it “Over-the-Rhine”?), helped create a show with a very libertarian theme.

Gill’s Winslow comes in to the eponymous lawyer’s storefront office to offer her protection at $200 a month.  Telling him off (in a well-written/well-delivered “tough gal” speech), Bates’s Harry brandishes a gun, but in the end makes him an offer he doesn’t refuse, providing him legal services free of charge if he protects her.  Later, he’s arrested for shooting a man who attempted to rob the store of one of his, shall we say, clients.

The words Winslow offers defending himself, if rendered in the third person, would not be out of place on a conservative and/or libertarian blog, tacitly defending the right to bear arms while articulating the reasons private individuals need to look out for their communities.  We see this man (and his “gang”) doing the work the police refuse (or are slow) to do.  Seem his ideal is not much different from the world envisioned by a certain blogger well-regarded in conservative circles.

I had not intended to write a review of these programs when I turned on the TV tonight, so perhaps have not considered them as a TV critic might, but then again, I’m not such a critic, I’m a blogger.  

And this blogger liked both shows, hoping that further episodes of the Cape will help weave those seemingly disjointed threads into an an engaging tapestry.  It’s nice to see good writing on the small screen.  And some pretty good acting too, particularly David and Bates, but also a lot of the supporting characters on each show.  (Well, I guess David is a supporting character in his show.)  Let’s hope these shows are given the chance to succeed.

Looks like, for the first time in well over a decade, I’ll be watching network television on Monday night, but on NBC not CBS.



  1. And then there’s Police Women of Cincinnati on TLC. Not to mention that episode of Food Feuds Graeter’s vs. Aglamesis. The town’s getting some exposure besides WKRP.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — January 18, 2011 @ 3:52 am - January 18, 2011

  2. Hollywood doing research on flyover country? bwaahahahahahahaha!

    Re: The Cape. Watching the two episode pilot does help. I’d like to see Summer Glau’s Orwell be more like the JLU’s Question than super hacker though.

    And yes, Keith David has been on my radar since Gargoyles. Now they’ll just need to do an episode where Salli Richardson-Whitfield shows up as an old flame, and my inner geek will be happy.

    Comment by The_Livewire — January 18, 2011 @ 6:52 am - January 18, 2011

  3. So you passed on the far superior, conservative-themed Chuck?

    Comment by V the K — January 18, 2011 @ 7:51 am - January 18, 2011

  4. #3: “So you passed on the far superior, conservative-themed Chuck?”

    I have tried to watch Chuck because I have been told it’s great (both my mom and my partner’s mom LOVE it) but every time I sit down to try to watch an episode the strangest thing happens. A minute or two into the episode Adam Baldwin will come on screen and suddenly all I can hear is a loud Barry White song drowning out the dialogue, I start to feel faint and dizzy like I smoked a joint, my mouth inexplicably hangs open like a bassett hound’s, all I can do is stare at the TV, and my limbs feel paralyzed like I can’t move.

    Then, all of the sudden I snap out of it and I realize an hour or two has passed like I had some kind of blackout. Here’s the weirdest part–I always come out of it holding a pen and scrawled on my left hand and wrist will be things like, “Mr. Adam S. Baldwin,” “Mr. and Mr. Adam S. Baldwin,” “Mr. and Mr. Adam S. Baldwin-Arther,” “Adam and Sean Baldwin,” “Adam and Sean Baldwin-Arther,” “I heart Adam,” “Adam + Sean 4-Ever.”

    What could it possibly mean?

    Comment by Sean A — January 18, 2011 @ 10:58 am - January 18, 2011

  5. I have never heard of either of these shows. Might have to check them out.

    Unfortunately, I missed most of Season 1 of Chuck. I heard good things about it, so I’ll have to get the DVDs.

    Comment by Neptune — January 18, 2011 @ 11:21 am - January 18, 2011

  6. Dan,

    David Kelley has a leftist agenda. He´s the creator of series (now ended) Boston Legal and The Practice. He used the shows to take potshots at G.W. Bush, Republicans, anc conservatives.

    Last night I watched an old episode of Law & Order with my favorite tv actor, the late Jerry Orbach with Jesse L Martin. Dick Wolf is another one who uses the program to brainwash the viewers. In the epeusode, ADA Jack Mc Coy is the quintessential gun grabber, the Second Amendment does not give the right to possess firearms. He claimed that the majority of the people, at the time the nation was formed did not own a firearm. To which I have to ask how did they hunt for food? With bows and arrows?

    What is needed, and probably will never air on major networks, is a program which extols virtues and elevates conservatism and takes potshots at the left and Obama. May Rush can create such a series.

    Comment by Roberto — January 18, 2011 @ 11:22 am - January 18, 2011

  7. What could it possibly mean?

    It means you’re a girl in Jr. High. 🙂

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — January 18, 2011 @ 12:38 pm - January 18, 2011

  8. #7: LOL, don’t I know it! I turn into such a silly little chick when it comes to Adam Baldwin. Honest to God, he is the ONLY celebrity crush I have ever had but I have found it to be both enduring and mildly incapacitating. It all started at a Hayward, CA movie theater circa 1980 when I was 9 years old. I saw Adam in “My Bodyguard” and that was IT for me. He was a dreamboat then and he’s a dreamboat now and I’ve just always thought he is the hottest man alive.

    So, when Adam started writing for Breitbart’s Big Hollywood and I found out he’s also a hard-core conservative, well….I’m sure you can imagine how that did NOTHING to diminish my obsession with the man.

    I admit it. I am such a homo for Adam Baldwin. There. I said it.

    Comment by Sean A — January 18, 2011 @ 1:01 pm - January 18, 2011

  9. Sean’ll be in his bunk. 😉

    Comment by The_Livewire — January 18, 2011 @ 1:28 pm - January 18, 2011

  10. Dan-

    We thought “Harry’s Law” was good — but accepted the obvious liberal bias. I mean come on — it was inevitable since the setting is a tough neighborhood in a Democrat-controlled city in Ohio, right?

    Bates was great. We will watch again, but the show is on my short leash for repetitive anti-conservative pot shots. Who knows — I may write a Big Hollywood piece about it! 🙂

    Comment by Bruce (GayPatriot) — January 18, 2011 @ 4:19 pm - January 18, 2011

  11. Sean’ll be in his bunk.


    Comment by V the K — January 18, 2011 @ 5:25 pm - January 18, 2011

  12. The latter show, however, seemed to be trying a bit too hard to push Democratic talking points with Kathy Bates’s Harry, while engaging the prosecutor in a debate on drug legalization, added an aside on how while conservatives were the first to propose ending the “drug war,” the party has since been hijacked by Rush Limbaugh and his ilk. As if series creator David Kelley just had to promote the narrative that the GOP has lost its libertarian moorings. And even though Bates’s Harry later acknowledged her ambivalence on said war, when she took on her courtroom rival, she articulated arguments which warm the heart of many a libertarian.

    But that is undeniably true. It’s a result of social conservatives being brought into the Republican fold; social conservatives want government intervention everywhere – in the women’s health clinics, in science classrooms, in gays’ private lives, locking people up for using drugs, regulating the airways so their kids don’t see an inch of butt crack, etc., etc. It certainly doesn’t help that very prominent figures in social conservatism have turned out to be complete hypocrites; Ted Haggard was using meth with male prostitutes, Rush Limbaugh was popping pills while insisting on harsher penalties for drug users, David Vitter was moralizing about Bill Clinton’s affair while carrying out illegal affairs of his own.

    Which doesn’t make sense. The libertarian view would be that prostitution and drug use should be legal – but these guys have figured out how to make a living by appealing to conservative Christians. Who cares about the libertarian foundations of the Republican Party? They’re doing it this way and getting votes, which is the only principle that you guys really care about anyway.

    It isn’t as if it ends there, anyway. Remember how Bush campaigned that there would be no nation-building under his watch? That libertarian viewpoint was abandoned almost immediately after his first crisis. Add to that Bush’s budgets and expansion of the federal government, and I simply don’t understand how someone can take issue with this kind of characterization. You know, if someone told me that the Democratic Party had completely sold out to corporate lobbyists and special interest groups, I would agree with them. Both parties lie about who they are and what they plan to do, and hammering down a consistent platform for either of them based on the things that their representatives say is impossible.

    Comment by Levi — January 18, 2011 @ 6:26 pm - January 18, 2011

  13. #9, #11: Oh, I see. I let my guard down for one minute and bravely confess the very special connection that Adam and I share, um…uh… I mean,…the very special connection that I have toward Adam and what do I get in return? Vicious mockery. Very nice you two.

    Well, all I can say is that when Adam finally starts responding to my tweets and realizes that he can no longer live a lie with that woman and three kids who I’m sure mean NOTHING to him (they’ve only been married like, 15 years–it’s basically just a long-ish fling) and he finally admits that we belong together (hello! soulmates belong together–am I right?), both of you are going to be desperate to come to our commitment ceremony at the Laguna Niguel Ritz Carlton. But I’m afraid there’s going to be a problem. You’ll both excitedly scamper to your mailboxes expecting to find formal invitations with your names on them, but uh oh…no invitations. Instead, there’s just going to be a copy of the latest People Magazine and you’re just going to have to read about me and Adam getting hitched in an enchanting seaside ceremony and the magical, celebrity-infested reception in our honor that followed.

    THEN you’ll be sorry for insensitively mocking me. And Adam.

    Comment by Sean A — January 18, 2011 @ 7:37 pm - January 18, 2011

  14. Was there a point behind LEvi’s bloviation? At least he doesn’t pretend that his socialist brethren want any concept of human freedoms.

    Comment by The_Livewire — January 18, 2011 @ 8:18 pm - January 18, 2011

  15. Was there a point behind LEvi’s bloviation?

    Is there ever?

    Comment by V the K — January 18, 2011 @ 8:38 pm - January 18, 2011

  16. Yes. It was proving that racist and fascist government worshipers who demand that thegovernment confiscate wealth, censor the media, control what products people purchase, and demand torture and imprisonment for political dissent have no sense of irony when it comes to ranting about intrusion into peoples’ private lives.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — January 18, 2011 @ 9:03 pm - January 18, 2011

  17. Bruce, yeah, Kathy Bates was great. It may have more anti-conservative pot shots, but I wonder if David Kelley is aware how his program promotes some Tea Party ideals.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — January 18, 2011 @ 9:05 pm - January 18, 2011

  18. And to put this in perspective, Levi and his Obama Party supports and endorses dressing toddlers as sexual slaves and taking them to a sex fair to “show off” in front of and pleasure naked and masturbating adults, but insists that it should be a capital crime to buy them a Happy Meal.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — January 18, 2011 @ 9:09 pm - January 18, 2011

  19. I suspect that I’ve outgrown The Cape’s target demo, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m not familiar with the comic (if it is a comic) but the show was well acted, there was a scope and dimension that myth allows for, and it wasn’t juvenile (I’ve also outgrown that) There were a lot of threads but I liken it to reading a novel – it takes a while to wrap up, and there may be subplots and the characters may be spun into a sequel, but if it’s engaging, you’ll stick with it.
    Having said that, I think Monday 9 PM is going to be a competitive slot. I hope The Cape finds an audience.

    Comment by Janer — January 18, 2011 @ 9:35 pm - January 18, 2011

  20. When Kathy Bates made the Limbaugh comment, I instantly changed the channel to Hawaii 50 (I think that was the program) and won’t be going back. Too bad, it had some promise.

    Comment by Whippersnapper — January 18, 2011 @ 9:41 pm - January 18, 2011

  21. I watched The Cape and enjoyed it, wasn’t expecting to. Being that it’s on NBC, it’ll probably be canceled after about 8 episodes, just like they did to Journeyman. I’m glad ABC is giving No Ordinary Family a chance though, but, does Jim remind anyone else of The Thing from Fantastic 4 (since the actor played The Thing)?

    Comment by Cliff Ball — January 18, 2011 @ 9:56 pm - January 18, 2011


    Comment by Kate — January 19, 2011 @ 1:55 am - January 19, 2011

  23. I’ve not gotten into NOF (Which is funny, since I like Michael Chickless and Julie Benz) but then I’m not gotten into many new shows, and am watching fewer old ones. Heck, I’ve not even seen one Hawaii 5-0 episode yet despite it being a ‘grace park in little clothing’ show.

    That said, yes, I’d have preferred he get a mental power or superspeed or something that goes against type.

    Comment by The_Livewire — January 19, 2011 @ 6:39 am - January 19, 2011

  24. Oops, forgto to add. The Thing was the best thing (pun unintended) about the FF movies. He was awesome in the role.

    Comment by The_Livewire — January 19, 2011 @ 6:40 am - January 19, 2011

  25. I enjoyed the Kathy Bates show until the Rush Limbaugh crack. I immediately switched over to a basketball game and have no intentions of ever watching that show again.

    Comment by Joey — January 19, 2011 @ 10:52 am - January 19, 2011

  26. The Limbaugh crack was another fine example of weak writing skills. I mean, how much more obvious and predictable could that be? I’d be willing to overlook it if I see some nice potshots at Andy Stern, SEIU, Chris Matthews… or any left-wing golden calf.

    Spread the zingers far and wide and it will be a fun show. Focus on nailing the right and I’ll be watching reruns of I Dream Of Jeannie.

    Comment by JP — January 19, 2011 @ 1:32 pm - January 19, 2011

  27. Really enjoying The Cape so far. Comments about David are right on. A happy surprise for me is the inclusion of Martin Klebba as a cast regular. Marty is a friend from High School (although I haven’t seen him in 20 or more). We had a very talented drama dept. and even then he had charisma, talent and guts to spare it must be hard to carve out a career in that business. Next weeks episode looks to be “Rollo-centric” so you’ll all have a chance to see his chops.

    Comment by Krebstar — January 19, 2011 @ 1:54 pm - January 19, 2011

  28. “What is needed, and probably will never air on major networks, is a program which extols virtues and elevates conservatism and takes potshots at the left and Obama. May Rush can create such a series.”

    I guess I should note that the ABC remake of “V” has taken some rather blatant potshots at big government, and the Obama/Pelosi Administration in general.

    In season one there were a few choice lines when the aliens started opening “Healing Centers”, a.k.a. “giving everyone free health care”. Naturally the aliens have an ulterior, evil motive for doing such a thing.

    A bit ham-handed in my opinion, but refreshing that Hollywood is at least TRYING to be even handed sometimes.

    Comment by Stephen R — January 19, 2011 @ 4:55 pm - January 19, 2011

  29. […] possession. And she unleashes a tirade against the drug war and against an outmatched prosecutor. Conservative bloggers have complained because Bates’s character Harriet “Harry” Korn said that […]

    Pingback by Kathy Bates Takes on Drug Legalization | Daily Libertarian — January 22, 2011 @ 5:00 pm - January 22, 2011

  30. I don’t think the city of Cincinnati can be held responsible for left lean of this show. On the 1/24/2011 show, the writer’s liberal slant became even more blatant. As a Cincinnatian, I hoped the show would be worth watching, but I think it is time to bail.

    Comment by CinciGuy — January 24, 2011 @ 11:13 pm - January 24, 2011

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