One way to make a good show? Bring a great guest star.
Chris Vance can turn up on my TV anytime he likes. I liked him as Mason Gilroy on Burn Notice (anyone ever notice how these USA shows tend to share guest actors?), loved him even more as Dr. Jack Gallagher in the short-lived Mental, and am glad to see him in this week's Fairly Legal as Paul Shelton, a former rock star who needs Kate to help him mediate a business deal with his two old bandmates. Unfortunately, Mack and Sherry are married, raising a family, and want nothing to do with him. As if that's not harsh enough, he's dying.
Vance is in fine form, both as the out-of-control jerk Paul once was, and the recalcitrant guy he is now. This comes as no surprise; after all, he played a crazy antagonist to perfection on Burn Notice and showed a tender side in the lead on Mental. I was lucky enough to meet him just before he headed off to film this episode, and it was obvious from our conversation how much thought he puts into each of his characters. Plus, I had no idea that he could sing.
The plot is still somewhat telegraphed, however. From the moment I laid eyes on Brandon, it was obvious to me that he was Paul's son, not Mack's. And it's also not surprising that Paul is asked to choose between the business deal and his son. As much as I love Vance's delivery of it, I have to pause when we get a standard monologue about Paul's newfound clarity in life. The subplot about a mediation between online gamers casts them in the stereotypical "nerds with no lives" light. I'm a gamer, and I found it kind of ridiculous. And a herpes joke? Really?
Having said that, while the main plot is nothing new, it's at least emotionally gratifying. It's not overly weepy, and I do get a good feeling out of seeing everyone bury the hatchet and move on with their lives. There's a sweet payoff here, but it's such a familiar road to get there.
In other news, after putting the brakes on their relationship last week, Justin is already trying to mend fences with Kate. The two of them are also co-defendants in a lawsuit, as the people who bought their former condo are suing them over some maintenance issues. I really have to feel for Justin; he seems to get so much flak when most of the time, he isn't even doing anything - and he feels guilty. I want to grab him by the shoulders and tell him that not everything is his fault. At least this time, Kate admits her own share of responsibility, which is a step in the right direction for both of them.
There's some great performances here, and a plot that's entertaining, if overly familiar. Aside from the forgettable subplots, this is a pretty decent outing. Keep up the good work, Fairly Legal. Maybe you're starting to find yourself.