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.