Characters Welcome. It's the slogan USA has used to enormous success over the last few years and it applies perfectly to season two of Fairly Legal.
Having seen the March 16 premiere during a set visit to Vancouver late last month, I can safely say that the fantastically charming characters have returned, ready to take their personal stories to the next level and continue mediating in and out of the office.
The first season left legal mediator Kate Reed's (Sarah Shahi) personal and professional life in shambles, as this legal mind may have found success professionally, but her results with personal relationships didn't match the outcome she achieved for clients.
The re-burgeoning connection between Kate and her ex-husband, Justin Patrick (Michael Trucco), came to a crashing divide, leaving both disappointed and heartbroken, while Kate's stepmother and new owner of law offices Reed & Reed, Lauren Reed (Virginia Williams), dropped the bombshell: Kate was fired.
But don't think that season two will spend its time wallowing in despair. Rather, the show picks itself right back up, giving plenty of time to focus on developing not only Kate, but the surrounding cast as well. The wheels of change are turning, but the original fun remains the same, if not better.
Shahi maintains a plucky personality and determined zeal force you to root for her. You can be sure that getting the boot from her job isn't going to permanently stop her from doing what she does best. The actress gives the series a sexy and smart attitude while seeming frazzled and wonderfully put together at the same time. She's the kind of leading lady that avoids the stereotypes and goes straight for humanizing, flawed and endearing.
Additionally, instantly likable newcomer Ryan Johnson - as intelligent, brash, and cocky lawyer Ben Grogan - gives Kate a good dose of antagonistic fun, pushing her to be even better than before. His lawyer to her anti-lawyer makes for irresistible banter, sexual tension and a spark of legal entertainment.
But does Ben's appearance spell potential love triangle? Sure, but with Kate, Justin, and Ben emanating their own strong wills and desires to succeed on their own terms, there's sure to be as much competition as there are flirty conversations.
And since the second season promises to provide more character-focused stories, Justin Patrick is looking to make moves as more than simply Kate's go-to sounding board. Which of course means that Trucco gets to dig a little deeper into the good guy, straight laced, play by the book character. Not everything for Justin will be be so golden.
Similarly, Lauren Reed and Leo Prince, each marvelously played by Williams and Baron Vaughn, will be branching out from their respective roles. The former is learning to find ways to work with Kate and become something more than just her late husband's wife and the latter, while giving great one-liners and equally humorous expressions, looks to be more than just the on-top-of-things assistant. Can we say that maybe some new love interests might be out there for them as well?
This high caliber cast syncs right back up and certainly Johnson as an addition fits in perfectly, providing that last piece of the puzzle. And don't think that this show about lawyers and law means for any instance of dry and otherwise boring focus of overly fastidious cases. The final result is the sparkle and pleasing shine of character driven stories and a winning personality that delivers a truly catchy and enjoyable hour of television.
Classy and sassy never looked so good. Case closed.
Fairly Legal season two premieres at 9/8c on USA Network Friday, March 16.
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.