HARRY’S LAW “Wheels of Justice” Review

HARRY'S LAW "Wheels of Justice"

HARRY’S LAW “Wheels of Justice” Episode 4 – This one was a bit of a letdown after a promising start. I’ll say it: if you have a show starring Kathy Bates in which Kathy Bates is hardly seen, the problems probably begin there. And that doesn’t take anything away from most of the backup players; I’m just saying that if you have more Law than Harry, you’re starting at a disadvantage.

First, the positives: Brittany Snow finally did something somewhere within the acting realm, as Jenna actually showed a little depth in revealing a past that included childhood molestation by her uncle. The character’s always (and somewhat forced) sunny disposition was at least partially explained, and Snow showed an excellent bit of restraint and nuance in a speech that could have easily gone overboard. So kudos to her. And … Jenna may not be as kindhearted as she seems. More on that later.

And since we’re talking overboard … I’m not sure if it was the acting or the directing (Jeff Bleckner) that needs to take the hit with this, but since the acting has thus far been pretty good I’m going to blame the direction. Because aside from Snow (and Bates of course) subtlety seemed a lost art in “Wheels of Justice.” Whether it was Thomas “Tommy” Jefferson (Christopher McDonald) adopting an extended “tears of a clown” face to emote his inner suffering for a good five seconds, which was about four seconds too long … or Rachel (Jordana Spiro) looking longingly at her hand for another long, long, long glimpse into the depth of feelings she clearly still has for Adam (Nate Corddry) after he passingly touched it …

Ehhhh. The problem is, these actors have impressed me in the past with their ability to display subtle nuance. So somewhere in my mind I’m thinking that the freaking director was like, “Okay, you feel pain / longing. Now hold it … hold it … ho-o-o-o-o-old it …!”

Sorry, Bleckner. Maybe I should blame the editor for not chopping fast enough.

Another issue I had was a distinct lack of surprises. Everything seemed to flow in one direction, and I could say I was shocked by nothing. Jefferson’s mini-crusade against Evil Corporate Fast-Food ended predictably (though $800,000 seems a little weak in the settlement department). And Damien (Johnny Ray Gill, not exactly a “subtle” artist himself) going after Chunhua’s attacker wasn’t a surprise, since he basically told us twice he was going to.

Plus he hits like a girl. No offense, girls.

The only mystery left is who gave him the address. My money is on Jenna … especially after Damien nodded his thanks to her afterward.

Come on, Harry’s Law. Should it be this easy? Give us something to ponder.

So what was good? Some will say Irene Keng as Chunhua has improved, but that’s like saying an icicle melted after being given some time out in the sun. I’m still not impressed, though part of it has to do with how she was written. “Chunhua! You’re happy! No, now you’re being attacked! Scream! No, now you’re beat up but determined. No, now you’re having a sudden and irrational freak-out, doing exactly what the cop told you not to do and causing your father to also freak out and burst into the police line-up—“

(I do like the little spazmonster that is Chunhua’s father, played by Kaidy Kuna. He seems like a generational leftover from every chopsocky movie I’ve ever seen, ready to Hulk out at a moment’s notice. I can actually imagine that little dude kicking everyone’s asses.)

I’m still more in favor of Spiro’s Rachel getting more screen time. Aml Ameen needs something to do as well. Right now, all Ameen’s Malcolm is doing is rushing from here to there looking cute. Tommy’s assistant Lisa (the interesting Dana Sorman) may have been right when she said to Malcolm, “There’s never a bad time to be cute,” but if all you bring to the table is “cute” … I don’t think you’re not going to go very far.

Well, maybe in the Miss America pageant. Not in episodic television.

Malcolm. He’s cute. He’s smart. He’s just not very interesting.

Hopefully the Great Bates will come give us a better show next week. It looks like she’ll be in it, at least.

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