The courtroom drama has become such a staple of American television, it is impossible to imagine a program with a completely unique approach to the legal genre. Yet, you always hope a show can tweak the formula and give you something you haven't seen a hundred times previously. While USA Network's "Suits" certainly isn't revolutionary television in its casework, it has brought something quite unexpected to the defense table. Spending more time in the boardroom than in the courthouse, this remarkably engaging show has brought a sense of smarts and sophistication to the proceedings--and trust me, I haven't used the word sophistication to describe a basic cable TV show in some time. A lot of elements work just fine here, but there are two specific things that elevate this show to the next level. First, the dialogue is snappy, genuinely funny and filled with clever wordplay. Second, the two leads (Gabriel Macht and Patrick J. Adams) have uncommonly good timing in serving up that dialogue. Furthermore, their relationship (a blossoming bromance, if you will, of give and take) is electric--a true standout in the television landscape.
The show, like any other, needs a hook to set up its premise. The conceit here is that Adams is a legal prodigy. Unfortunate life choices have derailed his chosen career path and he exists as a typical mid-twenties slacker. When his life starts unraveling, he has a fortuitous meeting with Macht, a successful and brilliant attorney. Macht, a huge egoist, is looking for "the next me" to be his assistant. Adams, of course, fits the bill--just one problem. Despite his vast and encyclopedic knowledge, he's not really a lawyer. But this being television, this is a slight complication which requires some creative navigation. Is it strictly believable? Not particularly. But it is handled in such a fashion that you want to stick with it. Again, credit must be given to the verbal sparring between the two men.
The cases themselves, from episode to episode, don't always break new ground. The show, however, is reliably good fun with a nice bite. I like the supporting cast as well. Gina Torres, as head of the firm, has some nice moments as a sexy and strong professional. Rick Hoffman plays a largely comedic rival and foil to Macht--and while I like him, it's not always a consistent characterization. Meghan Markle is a suitably appealing paralegal that challenges Adams to be a better man. And the show's silent secret weapon is Macht's receptionist Sarah Rafferty, who with just a few minutes of screen time every episode makes me laugh out loud! But still the show would not exist without the easy charm of Macht and Adams, who play off one another to perfection. When they aren't together, you notice the absence. Add the truly witty banter with the undercurrent of rivalry and respect, and this pairing is the best duo to hit TV in a long time! KGHarris, 8/11.