No one expects much from summer programming. Relationship-heavy and plot-light bits of fluff fill the airwaves. That’s fine, but it does mean an occasional summer-lowering of TV quality.

By that rational, USA’s new legal show, Suits (Thursdays at 10pm), is too good for summer. Much too good.

The basic premise of Suits has a ring of familiarity to it. A young quasi-criminal by the name of Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) runs straight from a drug deal into an interview with Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), a lawyer at one of New York City’s most prestigious firms. Thanks to Mike’s genius brain (he remembers just about everything he sees) and Harvey’s restless boredom, Mike Ross is quickly installed as the newest associate at the law firm of Pearson Hardman.

What separates Suits from the majority of summer shows is what happens next.

Mike gets his law job, but he’s not an immediate star. While the young man has passed the New York bar exam (on a dare) and is therefore legally-qualified to practice law, he doesn’t know anything about the day-to-day work of a lawyer. Mike botches witness interviews, gets scared by a mean supervising partner (played by Rick Hoffman, giving definition to the word “smarmy”) and doesn’t even know how to fill out paperwork.

And then there’s Harvey. Initially coming off as entertaining but two-dimensional, Harvey Specter rapidly gains character. His perfect-lawyer arrogance melts away during interactions with his secretary, Donna, and with the firm’s managing partner, Jessica Pearson (the always incredible Gina Torres of Firefly fame).

Mike may be the super-genius on Suits, but Harvey has the smarts to keep up with him. As it turns out, Harvey knows a lot more about what it’s like to be Mike than you’d think.

Strangely, the gimmick of Mike’s perfect memory doesn’t come up too often. He uses his memory to get out of a couple of sticky situations, but mostly the plot moves on problem solving and personal relationships. Also, when it comes to the law, Harvey really is every bit as smart (possibly even smarter) than his genius protege.

It’s refreshing. So often on TV — shows like Psych, House and White Collar come immediately to mind — the hero bests everyone using his unique skills. Everyone else just tries to keep up. In Suits, everybody is running at the same speed: lawyers outwit the opposition, the paralegal performs key research and even the secretary cracks the best jokes.

Although Suits has its serious moments, the two leads’ banter and the interactions between all of the characters keep the tone light and the pace quick. The result is an excellent summer show and — more than that — a truly high-quality piece of television.  

(Image courtesy of USA)

Laurel Brown

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Laurel grew up in Mamaroneck, NY, Grosse Pointe, MI and Bellevue WA. She then went on to live in places like Boston, Tucson, Houston, Wales, Tanzania, Prince Edward Island and New York City before heading back to Seattle. Ever since early childhood, when she became addicted to The Muppet Show, Laurel has watched far too much TV. Current favorites include ChuckModern FamilySupernaturalMad Men and Community. Laurel received a BA in Astrophysics (yes, that is possible) from Colgate University and a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies and History of Science from Columbia University before she realized that television is much better than studying.