NBC’s new legal drama “Harry’s Law” starring Oscar champ Kathy Bates (“Misery”) is the first new show from Emmy favorite David E. Kelley in four years. He has 10 of TV’s top honor on his shelf, having won for producing and writing some of the medium’s biggest hits. And Kelley’s creations have won his performers a record number of Emmys (35) as well as nominations (106).
Kelley took home three Emmys in a row for Best Drama Series “L.A. Law” (1989 – 1991) and then won back-to-back for “Picket Fences” in 1992 and 1994. He contended the following two years as part of the team on “Chicago Hope” before prevailing for “The Practice” in both 1998 and 1999. That last year saw Kelley make Emmy history when his other TV show “Ally McBeal” won Best Comedy Series. Though he contended in the drama race twice more for “The Practice” and two times for “Boston Legal,” those Emmy bookends in 1999 were his last victories.
Known for a quirky style of writing that showcases his characters, Kelley creates shows which resonate deeply with viewers and voters. Critical reaction to “Harry’s Law” was generally positive though certain reviews chided Kelley for the inconsistent tone of the show. Finding fault with Kelley is nothing new — “Ally McBeal” earned numerous negative notices. Many women loathed it, and Time even ran a cover asking if feminism was dead with a picture of “Ally McBeal” star Calista Flockhart. However, Kelley has shown that he is not afraid of tackling controversial moral and legal issues and could craft episodes of “Harry’s Law” that make for compelling viewing by the Emmy jurors.
Bates has received raves from many critics for her performance as Harriet “Harry” Korn, a patent lawyer who starts up a make-shift law practice in a shoe store in the seedy part of Cincinnati, Ohio. The character actress won a Golden Globe as well as the Oscar for “Misery” and another HFPA award for her supporting performance in the 1996 telefilm “The Late Shift.” That role earned her the first of seven Emmy nods, but she remains winless.