Saturday, July 2, 2011

Suits hard to define

Suits Sneak Peek [HD]     USA's Suits has now aired two episodes. In the second, "Errors and Omissions," Mike (Patrick J. Adams, Extreme Movie) is tricked into doing a colleague's work in exchange for help filing a patent. Louis (Rick Hoffman, Samanatha Who?) seems to take an interest in Mike, but Louis is actually using him to score a client. Neither of these things impress Harvey (Gabriel Macht, The Others), who Mike is supposed to be impressing. Now, Mike must not only fix Harvey's case, but out maneuver Louis, who plans on continuing to blackmail Mike into doing his bidding. Of course, Mike does both admirably, and Harvey gives him some begrudging respect.

     It's so hard to pinpoint exactly what Suits is, and who the characters are, that I neglected to cover the first episode. After the second, it's still not much clearer. Mike is not a licensed lawyer, but is incredibly smart. His unique personality is what persuades Harvey to give him a chance, and yet, once Mike begins working at the firm, Harvey seems to only want to deal with him when necessary. Further, Mike cannot continue not knowing what he's doing and faking his away along indefinitely. Thus, the long-term formula of the show is still murky. And it will have a formula. All USA shows do.

     Suits is not a legal procedural. There are cases in the first two episodes that must be won. Yet, those pale in comparison to the importance of Mike's main job, which is not to get caught as unqualified for the job he holds. But the hours aren't just following Mike as he avoids detection, either. In fact, the theme of the first couple of weeks seems to be Mike adjusting to his new life. Which, of course, will only go on for so long. What the focus will be after that is anyone's guess, but with such an intriguing hook and interesting beginning, it seems unlikely Suits will just shift more focus to the legal cases.

     The charm of every single one of the leads is what makes Suits worth watching. Louis is smarter and more cunning that viewers may first give him credit for. Harvey is a nut that's very hard to crack. Mike is eager to please, and desperately wants the life he is tasting. Toss in Meghan Markle (Horrible Bosses) as a paralegal with issues love interest for Mike, Sarah Rafferty as perceptive assistant who can stand toe to toe with Harvey, and Gina Torres (Firefly, Alias) as the boss, and there is a mix here that is extremely watchable. There is not a weak link among them. Because of the ensemble, and the inability to figure out what this show is trying to be, it's worth it to keep watching.

     To rank Suits among the other USA shows at the moment is difficult. It has not earned the right to join long running favorites like Burn Notice and Psych, or even relatively young White Collar, at the top of the tier. But it's much better than other recent freshman series like Necessary Roughness or Fairly Legal (yawn!). It's seeking to carve its own niche, and it's worth applauding USA that they are breaking from their molds, which had begun to grow stale, in new and old shows alike.

     Check out Suits Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on USA and see if you can figure it out.

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     Click here to catch up on episodes of Suits that you may have missed.

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