Harry's Law: Paul McCrane Weighs In on Season 2 Fixes and David E. Kelley's Take on Bullying

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:

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42 Comments
  1. Rain says:

    I loved Harry’s Law last season so I’m amazed that I love it even more this season! So happy they made the changes they have, hopefully the show gets a bigger audience so it sticks around!

    • Mare says:

      Why did they do what they did to Harry’s Law? I loved the show last season becuase it was special and unique. I have tried to give the benefit but it is just not what it was. It seems that they had to ‘Hollyroll it’ and now it’s just another LA Law or ‘The Practice’, okay shows but how long ago was that done? I started watching because it has Kathy Bates and found myself looking forward to each show. I would DVR every episode and it was one of the ‘events’ of the week that I looked forward to. Now…whatever. I miss it and feel like it has been taken off the air. I guess I don’t get why it had to be blown up.

  2. majamababe says:

    I’m not sure I like the new set – but I hope they keep both elements of drama and absurd. Really like Tommy Jefferson and Peyton. Hopefully, Mark Valley will stay for awhile. Hate that his show was cancelled on FOX last year. But, long live Harry’s Law – until NBC gets a bug and cancells it.

    • mw says:

      Cant agreee. Last season was fantastic. Changes this season are crap. Get rid of valley, a blockhead who is always deadweight/eye candy. Restore the quirkiness from the last season and get the shows character back. Now its just recycled Boston legal, the practice, crap.

      • Joan says:

        Put Harry back in the shoe store. It was great. I agree now it is just another lawyer show. Tonight is my last night for Harry, soooo sorry they changed the concept.

      • Jane says:

        They’ve taken a show that was unique, quirky, and really, really good, and they’ve dumbed it down to just another recycled law drama. What a shame, what a loss.

        After last season, I was so looking forward to this season. I was hoping they’d get back into gear by the time they reached “Queen of Snark,” but no, they had to add insult to injury and dump a very special cast member.

        I’ve had my DVR set to record this series each week. Now that it’s rapidly spiraling downward toward plain vanilla, I don’t think I’ll bother… I just hate watching anything die.

  3. Rebecca says:

    I don’t like the changes to the show this season. It’s lost a lot of the charm that the first season held. Still, it’s good to see a DEK legal drama on the air.

  4. Ann says:

    I think that the tweaks this season have made Harry’s Law much more run-of-the-mill. I especially regret the loss of Brittany Snow, whose Jenna character was just starting to show great depth and complexity at the end of the first season. I also miss the quirkiness of the law office in a shoe storefront. The move upstairs and adding Tommy Jefferson as an office partner makes it look like every other small-firm law show.

    • Suzanne says:

      I agree completely. I, too, miss the quirkiness and charm of the first season.

      • jake says:

        I’m glad that brittney snow’s character is gone — I love brittney snow and she deserved better and can go on to do bigger and better things instead of being wasted here. She had some very annoying storylines.

    • ErixN says:

      Definitely don’t like the changes. It has turned into a run of the mill show that I particularly don’t care to watch. I love Kathy Bates and liked most of the cast last season. The only character I disliked was Tommy Jefferson. My friend warned me that he would become a series regular when he first appeared last season because that’s David’s MO, but I hoped he was wrong. Unfortunately, my friend was right and now I am stuck with the most annoying character ever. I’ll give it a few more episodes, but I am not sure I will stick with this show.

    • cj says:

      I agree. I am sorry to see Snow leave. She added a different level to the show.They started to give her more…what happened? She was emotional, honest…her character could have been developed into more..they said it in her exit what she meant to Harry, and then just took it away and brought in the “pretty fillers: male and female”. Really? First season was fun and different (I was a big fan of L&O and am a paralegal,loved Boston Legal for the quirky). The writing and story lines have gotten better(less soap opera) and allow K. Bates to shine, but she is funny, too. That’s what I liked about season 1. Put some more sarcastic lines and take her back to the streets…we don’t need more corporate law firm shows. The characters were likeable, they cared.

  5. Jonathan says:

    Harry’s Law was one of my favorite new shows last season. This season….a HUGE let down. I don’t like how they figured they needed to make this like all of the other legal dramas. I loved the concept of a firm in the shoe store instead of on top. I loved Brittany Snow and the comedic touch she had. Now….the show misses the sparkle.

  6. Snsetblaze says:

    Some of the changes I like. Some I don’t. Loved Jean Smart’s Rosanna Hosanna. Would like to see Camryn Manheim’s character again. Don’t miss any of Adam’s women. Really liked the Alfred Molina storyline. What happened to the Damien character?

    I do like moving Tommy Jefferson and his assistant in with Harry even though they are not technically partners but two attorneys sharing office space and equipment but don’t like the move upstairs to the fancier offices.

    I also don’t like the big addition of about a dozen or so staff members (except the PI). Harry never wanted Adam – why would she want to run a bigger (although not a big) firm? And how could she even afford to all of the sudden? It doesn’t seem like her character. Her purpose last season was to help those that needed it but who had limited or nonexistent resources. Is that going to change? I do look forward to seeing Paul McCrane’s ex-prosecutor again. It seems like some of the clients are more well-to-do.

  7. Midori says:

    I watched the first epsiode this season and it just wasn’t anything close to being the same show anymore. It’s Boston Legal-Lite.

  8. uhyeahright says:

    I was disappointed this 2nd season to find the show basically become Boston Legal. As others have mentioned above, I kind of liked the quirkiness of it being a shoe store and attorney office. It was refreshing to see an attorney that was there for the non-rich (99% of U.S.). I have enjoyed seeing all of the DA’s on the show, including Paul McCrane, Camryn Manheim, and Jean Smart.

    Would be great to see some of the actors from The Practice guest star on the show. And maybe actors from Boston Legal.

    I was kind of disappointed that Mark Valley was back, considering he was already in Boston Legal for a long time already, so was kind of getting tired of him as a lawyer (nothing personal though). I did like him in Human Target though, because it was a different type of character with different personality. Maybe if the showed him running around in a car doing private investigations, chasing people, etc, that would be cool for the show (kinda like how Matlock always had an investigator always running into trouble trying to get more info investigating).

    • uhyeahright says:

      * Would be great to see some other actors from “The Practice” guest star on the show. Camryn Manheim has already been guesting on the show, so that is awesome. Michael Badalucco is also an incredible actor.

      * Kinda like Matlock or Perry Mason.

  9. jake says:

    They just need to add a character who is quirky and funny – a charmer.

    • cj says:

      That’s what’s missing this season. Mark Valley, who obviously is going to play a major role is a good actor, but doesn’t fit. No offense to the other actors, but they were believable in the environment, not hunky male models (that goes for the new female actors, too.) Snow and others were attractive, flawed, believable. We could relate. There is no need to have “predictable sexual office tension and possible romance” in this series. That’s where season 1 started to go wrong (regardless of characters). Stick to the law and character development within that context. This was not presented as a “drama.” I will keep watching, but don’t “fix” the parts that weren’t broken. Give it a chance to get an audience that wants to be entertained. That’s who spread the word to watch the first season!

  10. wooster182 says:

    This show is SO much better now. The writing has improved so much that it really gives Kathy Bates a platform to be the epic actress she is. McDonald is such a wonderful addition to the show. They dumped the heavy preachiness and ramped up the drama. Getting rid of Snow and her character’s boyfriend also allowed for much better actors and more interesting characters to step in, freshening up the show a lot. I liked it before. I love it now.

  11. connie says:

    I too am not happy with the changes. It was about a lawyer in a shoe store-where’s the shoe store? She was a located in a rough neighborhood-not any more. It’s just another lawyer show. It will probably still be a good lawyer show, just nothing special.

    • Snsetblaze says:

      She’s still located in the same neighborhood – just upstairs in remodeled, fancier offices. But we haven’t seen the characters from the neighborhood this season.

    • cj says:

      How are you going to explain the stilettos in the opening pic now that Snow is gone to NEW viewers?

  12. Linda says:

    Glad to see most of the changes. Why did they change the theme song? I LOVED the Harry’s Law music last year. The gang members last year were laughable, so it’s good they are gone, unless you can find actors that are more believable. (sorry guys!) I like Tommy Jefferson, but agree with some of the other comments…….The premise has been lost…the quirkiness of a law office in a rough neighborhood. I can see that the shoe store thing had to go. Hate to see Brittainy Snow go…You couldn’t figure out a spot for her character? Camryn Mannheim is great, as is Jean Smart. Looking forward to Jason Alexander next week.

    • Drew says:

      They DEFINITELY need to bring the theme song back. The one they have now is complete crap, and may as well not even be there.

  13. Liam says:

    The changes are terrible, IF you liked the original show, and not a Boston Legal (et al) type show. It used to have excitement and unpredictability. A type of robin hood quality helping the neighborhood denizens. So I am sorry to leave but it’s not the show I started to watch last year….

  14. Mary Jo says:

    Totally different show this year- and not in a good way! I really love Kathy Bates but the premise has changed as well as some of the major characters.I loved that she worked for the under-dog and the dynamics of the small office and much of the show out in the neighborhood. Tommy Jefferson is most of the time a sleese-bag and not the same type of character as Harry so I don’t see their sharing offices. I am sorry the show changed totally into some predictable program that’s already on TV- It has lost it’s charm. And you have lost me as a viewer.

  15. uhyeahright says:

    SPOILERS of EPISODE FROM 10/12 below:

    Well, at least they gave her a proper send-off with some good writing / acting. Instead of just shooting her and having a shock moment. This show is definitely changing from being unique to being plain ol’ regular stuff on TV. Maybe the only hope is that they’re giving Kathy Bates some better dialogue to work with than in the first season.

  16. evergreen9382 says:

    Just saw episode “Queen of Snark” about gay bashing. Very good episode, but hated the ending. Blogger should have been found guilty. You could have taken a strong stand against bullying. Instead you shugged your shoulders and said “too bad” and let the bully go free. Shame on you. That’s why bullying goes on and on.

    • Drew says:

      Yeah, it should be illegal to call people gay.

    • Bruce says:

      I agree with you 100%. I thought that some good writing might save the fact that Harry was going to defend a homophobic cyber bully. I thought that maybe the defendant might end up being gay, and was rejected by the deceased, or that the defendant was envious that the deceased had, in her own way, begun to learn more about who she was and maybe where she was going, or, maybe that this would be the case that Harry would lose. Any of those would have been better than Harry defending this behavior, and the girl just gets to walk away. No way! Gay bashing is real. It maybe can be explained, but not justified. I am insulted that the producers, writers, and Kathy Bates herself, expect that an educated consumer will accept this. I will ‘never’ watch another episode of this show.

  17. mdvd says:

    Ok…I have watched all of the episodes this season. I keep trying to like the show that I loved last season. I certainly don’t love this season, and now I don’t even like it. It is beyond disappointing. Whatever heart the show had is GONE. This is so typical of NBC. 5 hours a week of Jay Leno at 10PM…remember that one? What is it with this network? Tinker Tinker Meddle Meddle….and then Destroy. Is this redo brought to us by the same brilliant mind that gave us Free Agents? Just asking.

  18. lulabelle the rabbit says:

    Gosh, like my input as a viewer on the web will make any difference, but I wanted to weigh in…Let’s say we had a new show, one that was inventive, risky, interesting, weird, cool and warm hearted…lets say we got hooked on the show in the first season, waited and waited for the season two and low and behold, it was doctored up and watered down and became edgy instead of warm hearted and quirky. You see how different that is? Really, do you? Hey, I’d watch Kathy Bates put her shoes on, she’s do it with such pinache. I’d watch brittany snow and McCrane and Jean Smart just to see what they came up with this show. yep, I even got used to Tommy Jefferson’s character. But…the ghetto was part of this, the blackness of the neighborhood has been erased. Bring in Mark Valley ok, I love him, but let him be something new to the plot. Where’s the quirky – take it outside, really? Where is the team that backed Harry’s new start and don’t tell me it takes one season to go from pennies in a sock cases to corporate giant! Where’s the struggle? David Kelly – did you stop writting the show? Come on, you were the best part – you and Bates…you could have brought out the best in her. You did with McCrane…didn’t you. Come on guys…listen to us – the fans…we were word of mouth advertising this show last season…this season I don’t love it. I don’t love the cast anymore they are too cold, too distant they are not of the neighborhood or in the neighborhood anymore. Where are the quirky neighbors, store owners, factions that are common to inner cities. Where is the show’s grit. Yeah, that’s it…the show had grit. So little today has real grit and courage and Harry’s Law used to have it. It got lost in the shuffle up. If you cancel this show…just because you ripped the heart out of it…what’s new. That’s what is done these days. If it’s not violent, sleazy, filled with sexual tension and innuendo…it’s not a show??? How many years do you expect to get out of this show? It won’t be remembered unless it is memorable…think about it, what’s memorable about it now? Nothing. Please consider putting back the heart of this show. Ask us, the fans…we know where the heart was. Thanks.

  19. Sheri says:

    Don’t like the 2nd season changes. Just another law show now. Will find something else to watch until DAVID KELLY gets his act together and writes a show that Harry is having a dream and wakes up in the shoe store office with the original characters. Don’t need Mark Valley. He is a pretty face. Don’t need the extra characters. Need Harry, Adam, Jenna, and Malcolm. Tommy would be ok too. He brings in the sleeze to the show. You had a great show. Why did you ruin it?

  20. bd says:

    Ug.

    Did anyone else think brittany snow’s (underwritten) character’s emotional departure was forced? What basis of a relationshop did she have with anyone but harry for all the crying?

    And wow, throwing in the David E Kelley obligatory “wizard of oz” reference “you most of all scarecrow” — to adam. It was so stupid. She had maybe 4 conversations with that Adam character last season. What the heck is the big deal?

    I agree with paul mccrane, who i love, that dek can sometimes write good stuff on topical matters. But I dont think he gives us a lot of new insights, he just expresses the two opposing sides. Big whoop. Lawyer Gives One Side of the Issue then Lawyer 2 Gives Other Side of the Issue. So?

    And he’s been doing this for four shows now. Just change the names of the characters and you basically have all of kelley’s legal dramas since The Practice. He quotes his old scripts, uses old stories, it’s 2011 and he’s on the same stuff he was doing over ten years ago. He has basically been writing the same show since 1997 – and yet he’s still “brilliant”?

    Paul McCrane needs to watch more cable.

    And Kelley isnt what makes this show even decent, it’s Kathy Bates, with a side order of Christopher Macdonald (if you can ignore how derivative he is of William Shatner) .

    Whatevs. I was watching some Modern Fam anyhow.

  21. MH says:

    Bring back the humor. Kathy Bates is capable of so much more. Loved last season, sighing through this one. Hope for more soon.

  22. AH says:

    So disappointed in the new season. I loved that the old Harry’s Law was as much about character development and relationships as it was about law. Now, as many others have said, it’s just another legal drama. I liked the pace of the show last year with the shoe store and the neighborhood and the slow reveal of the main characters and their lives. Now it’s loud and boisterous and a weekly sermon. I miss the characters of Jenna and Malcom. I DVR’d the show each week last year. Not sure I’ll do that this year.

  23. Donna says:

    I do not like the changes this season. Tonight’s episode was our last.

  24. Chad says:

    I agree with you word-for-word, 100%! I was beginning to wonder if I was the only one after reading these comments. Lol! I love the fact that they’ve retained some quirkiness and really amped up the drama. It does remind me of Boston Legal and that most definitely is a GOOD thing.

  25. Chamonix says:

    To put it bluntly, the network ‘suits’ must have brought in some so-called ‘experts’ to make DEK change the entire show to fit some ‘success formula’, and the result is a boring, unoriginal doppelgänger for every other legal drama ever broadcast.

    Note to DEK: You guys really blew it when you changed the location, format, concept and characters. What were you possibly thinking? Tell me you weren’t actually sober, to make dismantling of a wonderful, original show at least a little understandable.

    No reason to tune in anymore to what has now become just a so-so duplicate of every other ‘lawyer’ show out there.

    What a waste!

  26. Kathy says:

    grrr why did they make all those stupid changes to Harry’s Law. Put her back in the shoe store and bring back the main characters from last year. Only a few weeks in and I’m hating the way the show is going. Kathy Bates still rocks, but too much Tommy Jefferson…I like his character and think he should stay…in small dosages. All the new characters are just melding.