Plot: Nick Fallin (Simon Baker) is a legal legacy, the son of high powered attorney Burton Fallin (Dabney Coleman), so he seemed destined for success and as expected, he would rise through the ranks in the field. Nick had the world in his hands, but a drug charge would force him to watch as much of what he had built would slide right through his fingers. Although he was given a lenient sentence, he does have to perform over a thousand hours of community service and his legal skills will be put to use as a child advocate. His old world of big money, fast paced legal work was quite different from the trenches he serves in now, representing clients for an advocacy firm run by Alvin (Alan Rosenberg), but Nick settles in to make a difference. Will this new role help guide Nick to a lifestyle of more substance and helping those in need, or will he return to his hotshot ways once his hours have elapsed?
Entertainment Value: The premise here is a familiar one, as a rich, powerful person is forced to see how the other half lives and in the process, hopefully learn to be a better person. But The Guardian never feels like a retread and in truth, is one of the better legal dramas from its broadcast cycle. The show has Nick in the middle of two legal worlds, the cutthroat corporate law firm run by his father and the hard hitting child advocacy firm he is sentenced to assist at. If you think legal shows with one case have a brisk pace, imagine Nick darting between cases and investigations for two different firms, it can be a little much at times. I think The Guardian balances those elements well however, as in most episodes, it results in a quicker pace and less filler, but still ample time to explore the cases involved. The show does lean on having children’s cases a lot, as this elicits more of an emotional reaction than typical cases seen on similar shows, but that is to be expected. After all, if we want Nick to have his heartstrings tugged a little, we have to expect the same to happen with us.
The lead here is Simon Baker and he is more than capable, though he handles the hotshot side better than the sensitive advocate side. But that makes sense with this role, as he has focused on himself on success more than anything else, so he likely won’t do a full turnaround that fast. His past is explored a little, but you can tell from his time around his father how he was brought up, so yes he is on the cold side, but it is easy to see why that is. He has all the charm and presence to pull off the slick, high powered lawyer role and it is interesting to see how Nick develops over the series, so solid work from Baker here. Dabney Coleman is a lot of fun as well, in an abrasive, but humorous role as Nick’s father, another bottom line driven lawyer. He is a consistent presence on the show as well, appearing in all the episodes, so that father/son relationship is given some focus at times. The cast also includes Raphael Sbarg, Wendy Moniz, and Alan Rosenberg in prominent roles, with other supporting players rotating in and out over the course of the series. I think The Guardian is a terrific legal drama and for fans of the genre, is more than binge-worthy stuff.