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'Harry's Law' review: David E. Kelley's Wonder Woman reaches TV

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I freely admit I’m as susceptible to a good ratings ploy as anyone else. Thus were my eyeballs led to Wednesday night’s Harry’s Law, where Smallville‘s Erica Durance was to be seen wearing a Wonder Woman costume. I’d say this was worth sitting through a script co-authored by show creator David E. Kelley, but that’s really not true. Still, as a little media in-joke, at least half of the hour was almost amusing, until it became mired in soggy Kelley-isms.

The joke, of course, is that Kelley tried to launch a Wonder Woman series (starring Friday Night Lights‘ Adrianne Palicki) but the show’s pilot wasn’t picked up by its network. This episode of Law, written by Kelley and Amanda Johns, enabled him to get the costume onscreen, and on the right person. Durance, so radiantly charming as Lois Lane on Smallville — and a good sport who donned a number of cinched costumes over the course of that role — gave off an easy authority as Wonder Woman.

Alas, Kelley made viewers pay for any pleasure. In a gravely downbeat plot line, Durance played Annie, a woman who’d been repeatedly raped by her husband and found emotional release by dressing as Wonder Woman, going out and attacking other abusive men, for which she was arrested. She was defended in court by Nate Corddry’s Adam, and there was a lot of witness babble about Annie’s “complicated dissociative state” and such. There wasn’t a second of humor here; why, when the expert psychiatrist (the fine Robert Picardo) said that Annie, when in costume, “goes on autopilot,” no one even made a joke about Wonder Woman’s Invisible Plane.

It’s too bad Durance didn’t get a chance to act with the star of the show, Kathy Bates — both spunky performers, they might have sparked to each other. Bates, however, was trapped in the other half of the hour, some typical Kelley ridiculousness about the legal rights of apes who can use iPads. (Yes, I can hear you — they can really do that! Still doesn’t make ’em compelling plaintiffs… )

After watching Harry’s Law, one was reminded that it was probably just as well that Kelley’s version of Wonder Woman never got off the ground.

Twitter: @kentucker