Harry’s Law, which premieres this Monday at 10p ET on NBC, isn’t David E. Kelley’s first rodeo. Is Kelley refreshingly forthright, already resigned to failure or both? Among his comments at the winter press tour on Thursday:
“We’re not kidding ourselves, we know this will be tough sledding,” Kelley said. “It’s a very tough timeslot and it’s not conventional and we have a 60-year-old lead and not many shows do and not many networks have come to me recently and said ‘Can you give me a show with a 60-year-old lead?”
“But I have to believe that in the universe of 500-plus channels, there has to be room on the landscape for one. And there has to be room on the television landscape for one or two or three series that are willing to engage in topical things. I realize you alienate a good part of your constituency when you do that. But at the same time, any writer has to decide what story he wants to write and what stories he wants to tell.”
Not loving a time slot is nothing new. I’m not sure writing topical stories is really something that alienates an audience. But with broadcast network advertising focused on adults 18-49, the 60 year old lead might be another story. I grew up watching ‘Barnaby Jones,’ ‘Matlock’ and ‘In the Heat of the Night’ and the age of the leads did not alienate me.
But those shows have something in common in addition to 60+ leads, those shows all launched before the mass exodus to cable. “Matlock’ and the ‘Heat of the Night’ were also both examples of shows that started on one network and finished on another. It was a different time.
I can’t fault Kelley for trying to tell the stories he wants to tell and doing it with a 60 year old lead. But if those are the types of things that alienate the viewing audience, it does raise the question of why NBC picked up the show.