Picks and Pans Review: The Guardian
Nick Fallin juggles his career as a hotshot corporate lawyer in Pittsburgh with his court-ordered community service as a children's advocate. (He reluctantly chose to put in 1,500 hours of pro bono work rather than face disbarment for a drug conviction.) Nick's life sounds exciting—or at least nerve-racking—but you'd never know it to study the face of Australian actor Simon Baker (Red Planet), who has the lead in this new series. Baker looks equally disengaged whether he's playing arrogance, confusion or concern.
Plotting on The Guardian has shown improvement since the premiere in late September. The third episode presented an intriguing situation—custody and paternity issues surrounding the wheelchair-bound son of a prostitute—and resisted the temptation to resolve it too neatly. Characterization, on the other hand, is still a weakness. Nick seems hardly more than a construct, a walking pretext for two kinds of legal drama. It might help if he had more meaningful interaction with Burton Fallin (Dabney Coleman), his father and law-firm boss. Granted, Burton isn't made out to be the warm, communicative type, but would it kill him to ask an occasional question about Nick's personal life? Over at Children's Legal Services, Nick's relationship with supervisor Alvin Masterson (Alan Rosenberg) has been marked by unrelieved antagonism. Masterson needs to develop some redeeming features or we'll wonder how he became a do-gooder in the first place.
In the end, though, tinkering around the edges won't be enough to ensure The Guardian's future if Baker's performance remains a void at the center of the drama.
Bottom Line: Unpersuasive advocate
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