TV Review: Suits

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I had almost written off USA shows after the premieres ofCovert Affairs(Piper Perabo joins the CIA because she got dumped!) andFairly Legal(she's an arbitrator with a messy personal life who doesn't go by the book but gets results!). The endless sunshine ofBurn Notice,In Plain Sight,Royal PainsandWhite Collar-where New York City always looks like a gorgeous 75 degrees-was starting to sear my retinas. So it was with some sense of duty fulfilled that I watched the premiere ofSuits, another lawyer procedural with a twist.

This time, the twist is ostensibly that new law firm hire Mike Ross (Patrick Adams) doesn't have an actual law degree, but is a brilliant underachiever who has memorized the law so he can make money by taking the bar exam for other students. Cocky closer Harvey (Gabriel Macht) sees something of himself in young Mike-neither of them play by the rules!-and hires him anyway, mostly out of desperation to avoid another Harvard stick-up-his-ass.

The actual twist is that USA is going a little darker. The arch banter is firmly in evidence, particularly between Harvey and his mentor and boss, Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres, welcome on every show saveGossip Girl), but this time the stakes feel slightly more real. Mike's first case is a sexual harassment suit, not one of the flimsy lawsuits that are found on most cable network lawyer shows. And pothead Mike only barely escaped arrest when he briefly joins his best friend in dealing pot.

The tone matches the look of suits: glossy, crisp and cool. There are the titular articles of clothing, which makeSuitssomething of bespoke porn, but there are also clouds hovering over the city for once. Adams and Macht are off-kilter leading men, both of whom don't look or act like traditional leading men. Macht has a shark's smile more suited for the villainous role here played by Rick Hoffman, but saves Gabriel from being another Neal Caffrey, the suave, unruffled role Matthew Bomer plays onWhite Collar. Macht always seems on the verge of snapping, which adds a frisson of tension to the usually flaccid USA pedigree. Hopefully, he and Ross can keep up their ambiguously friendly, vaguely hostile banter.

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