A case could be made in court that Harry’s Law is on the cusp of a turnaround. On the heels of NBC ordering six additional scripts for Season 2, this Wednesday at 9/8c the legal drama presents one of its more compelling hours, as Harry (played by Kathy Bates) and Ollie (Mark Valley) defend a Gossip Girl-like blogger accused of playing a role in the suicide of a closeted lesbian classmate.
ER alum Paul McCrane, who last month won an Emmy for his work as Harry’s sometime foe, Josh “Puck” Peyton, and this week also stepped behind the camera to direct, spoke with TVLine about the new, “surefooted” Harry’s Law, a cast member’s imminent exit, and what series boss David E. Kelley brings to the teenage bullying discourse.
TVLINE | Congratulations on your recent Emmy win. That’s fantastic.
Thank you. It was a very, very nice surprise, and a very sweet treat.
TVLINE | Having been a part of Harry’s Law on both sides of the camera now, how would you sum up the tweaks between Seasons 1 and 2?
I think that the first season, as is often the case with a new show, it was trying to find its way. David is such a brilliant writer [who] tries to take chances, and some of those work better than others. [Regarding the cast changes,] not being right for a given show doesn’t make you not a good actor; it just may mean that the direction of the show is growing and they decided to go a different way. The show, to me, feels a lot more surefooted. Some of the things that were still a little bit up in the air last year have been resolved, and for my money, the show feels on much more solid ground.
TVLINE | What are the elements that you feel like are stronger this season?
They’re placing a bit more emphasis on the dramatic aspects of the show while hopefully not losing the absurd aspects of the show, because that’s such a strength of David’s writing. Also, the look of the show is even stronger than it was last year. The new set that is their home base, I have to tell you, as a director, is a joy to shoot in. It photographs beautifully and gives a lot of options.
TVLINE | Is there anything that this week’s episode, “Queen of Snark,” does that the show hasn’t quite done before?
The subject matter, as with all of David’s writing, is about things that are topical and really matter in our society. David’s writing takes a stand and voices social issues, and one of the strengths of this episode is that he gives strong arguments in both directions, which if you’re taking a position makes your position stronger.
TVLINE | That leads to my next question: What distinct POV on bullying does David E. Kelley bring to the conversation?
David’s position, I think is fair to say, is more of a liberal position on social issues — and I think he is pretty unabashed about that. In my mind, rather than liberal, I’d say it’s a humanist position and one that I agree with for the most part. Whether you’re leaning to the right or leaning to the left, liberal or conservative, really doesn’t matter. What’s more important to me personally is the notion of humanity and compassion. And that’s something I think David does very, very well.
TVLINE | Is this also the episode that sets up Brittany Snow’s exit?
I can’t tell you what happens with Brittany here, but something does. [Laughs]
TVLINE | Anything else about the episode that you’re excited about?
In a very minor way, it’s the first time I’ve directed myself on something. I had very little to do [in the episode] as an actor, but it was interesting experience to do that and to trust in the other folks that are there to let me know if there was a problem or not. And they certainly did. Otherwise, honestly, I just think it’s a really good, strong episode, one I’m very proud to have been a part of.
In keeping with this look at bullying and teen suicide, Harry’s Law original cast member Brittany Snow participated in this PSA: