Friday, June 24, 2011

SUITS: If Criminal Minds and Franklin & Bash Had A Baby After A Franklin & Bash Party

On Thursday nights, at 10pm EDT, is a new series called Suits (USA), that follows one of my favorite shows, Burn Notice.  Last night was the Pilot, for the show.  I'm not going to give you full major character breakdowns, as I don't feel it's necessary to do so, but I will give you a decent breakdown of the two main characters.  The premise is pretty simple, and I'm sure the end game is the ruse being exposed (if it's not known, already).

Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) is a closer for a law firm.  Anytime I refer to him, I will refer to him as Balinca.  Anyone who has seen Franklin & Bash will recognize him as an amalgam of Carp, Franklin, and Bash.  He has the attitude and personality of Carp, the ethics of Franklin, and the con man mentality of Bash.  He is all these characters rolled into one.  He likes to play poker, and loves his ability to read people.  A very important thing to know about his character is that he's a bluffer.  His introduction to the show came in the form of a case falling apart.  He is called in to fix things.  In the process of attempting to do that, he arrogantly bluffs the client into signing an agreement he absolutely did not want to sign.  This results in him being promoted to Senior Partner, over the weasel, Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman).  Balinca is not above breaking ethical codes to "win" his cases.  Unlike Franklin & Bash, he doesn't want to end up in court, he wants to settle.  I'm guessing that's what his main skill is, getting people to settle.  He goes about his duties pretty sociopathically, and loves him some him.

Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) smokes pot.  He takes tests for other people.  He's a smart loser, since he's basically just using his brain to commit fraud.  However, he does have one particularly amazing skill, and that is that he remembers everything he reads.  He is what would happen if Dr. Spencer Reid, from Criminal Minds, had begun a drug habit, been a slacker, and had an interest in law, as opposed to science.  He's obviously very smart, perhaps too smart for his own good.

Ross's Grandmother is in a Nursing Home, and he is told if he does not come up with $25,000, she will be institutionalized.  He doesn't want this to happen, so he agrees to set up a large marijuana sale for his "best" friend, a covert drug dealer, just so he can get the $25,000 to keep his Grandmother from being institutionalized.  His friend finds out the buy is really a set up, but is not allowed to contact him.  Ross goes to the drug deal, but luckily for him, he realizes something is not right, and bails before going into the room where the deal is going to take place.

It is also extremely fortunate, for him, that Balinca is conducting interviews for his law firm, of Harvard Law graduates.  In the process of escaping from being busted, he ends up in the interview area, just in time for the interview of someone who didn't show up.  Balinca's Assistant had been tasked with finding someone like him, with absolutely no success.  Due to Ross's interaction with her, she decides he meets all of the traits of Balinca's desired candidate, and he is led in for an interview.  At this point, the briefcase with the marijuana flies open, and the marijuana falls out.  It is at this point that Balinca knows this guy is not there from law school.  After a series of back and forth ego throws, it is determined that Ross is a superhero type, when it comes to law knowledge, and Balinca hires him, even though he does not have a law degree.

Upon returning to the office, Balinca finds that his title of Senior Partner has been rescinded.  When he goes to find out why, he is told that the client he bluffed realized he was bluffing, and then fired them.  He is then told to toe the line, or that's it for him.  So, he goes back and tells Ross that he's fired, because he can't take a chance on it being discovered that Ross doesn't have a law degree.  Ross then uses his brain to get leverage on Balinca, which causes him to re-hire him.  Then, Balinca goes to his boss's office and uses his brain, to get leverage on her.  She gives him back the title of Senior Partner.

The comedy, if there is any, is that even though Ross has extensive law knowledge, he has no clue about how any of the details (paperwork) are done.  That's where his learning curve, and partnership with the best Paralegal in the firm comes in.  He still has the problem of what to do with the marijuana briefcase, and his screwed up friendship with his now former "best" friend to deal with, but at least he now has a home.

In the course of the first episode, we are also shown how Balinca isn't all he appears to be.  He's a very narcissistic guy, and getting below his extremely self-centered surface is part of what this show is going to be about.  Ross is him, 10 or 15 years ago, a smart scam artist, with no skills or ability to get to where he can be useful (being a lawyer).  So, to make his rise to stardom, in the law firm, Balinca had to have someone take him under his wing, who was willing to deal with his numerous character flaws.

This is a fully formed Pilot, as Pilots go, but it's not a particularly strong one.  It's watchable, yet not believable.  We have to stretch our imagination to get past the many technical issues that go along with the fraud that Ross and Balinca are committing.  I can't tell if this show is supposed to be a farce, or totally believable.  I can't tell if it's supposed to be a comedy-drama (dramedy), or a straight up drama.  There isn't enough funny to make it a comedy, but the drama isn't believable enough to take it seriously.  I'm figuring the proper adjustments in tone will be made throughout the season.  The concept isn't funny, so I'm going to watch it like it is a drama.  I could change that conclusion later.

My suggestion is to watch the Pilot, and decide if you want to continue with it.  There's enough there that I think you can get a good idea of where the show is going.  If you don't like the Pilot, I don't think there's enough potential for the show for you to continue watching.  If you do like the Pilot, then you will probably enjoy the future episodes of the show.  This Pilot was particularly exposition heavy, for a show of its type, but I can still clearly see that the show has a decent amount of potential to improve, despite its rather weak Pilot.  The color correction in the promo for the second episode is dramatically different than the look of the Pilot, so you can likely expect a big change in the look, and probably quality, from the Pilot to the second episode (likely for the worse).

The ratings for Suits, out of the box, were excellent (nearly double the average overall viewership of Franklin & Bash), and it lost very little of its lead in from Burn Notice.  Just based on the first episode, I think this show will make it, and I am going to continue watching it, even though I much prefer its smart ass brother (father?), Franklin & Bash.  Thanks for reading.

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