July 18, 2018

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “Suits”


SUITS:  Wednesday 9PM on USA

7 seasons ago, Aaron Korsh’s SUITS was introduced by USA Network as the story of a young con man with a photographic memory named Mike Ross, hired by flashy New York lawyer Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) to be his mentee, sidekick and quasi-little brother.  Along the way, Mike became a real attorney himself, and fell in love with paralegal and eventual lawyer Rachel Zane (Meghan Markle), who was herself the mentee and sidekick of Donna Paulsen, Harvey’s secretary (and lately the firm’s COO) and semi-requited love interest.  But all of that came to an end last season, when Adams and Markle–the latter rather more spectacularly–decided to move on.

That left Suits in need of refurbishment for Season 8.  Harvey’s firm, which has gone through many incarnations over the seasons, had its latest by merging with the firm run by Rachel’s father Robert Zane (Wendell Pierce).  Dule Hill (Alex) and Amanda Schull (Katrina), recurring lawyers for the past several seasons, are now regular cast members.  (Although his character is the new firm’s managing partner, Wendell Pierce remains recurring.)  The marquee move was the hiring of the ever-wandering Katherine Heigl to play Samantha Wheeler, Robert Zane’s ace junior partner.

Tonight’s Season 8 premiere, written by Korsh and directed by Christopher Misiano, took all these new elements out for a spin.  Despite her featured billing, Heigl was a supporting player in the episode, and so far she appears not quite comfortable with the bang-bang rhythms of Korsh’s dialogue.  (She also seems to be styled to recall Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, which is less glamorous than odd.)  Samantha is being set up as competition for Alex, since both are angling to be the firm’s next name partner, but her larger place appears to be as Harvey’s new foil–and, one imagines, a potential will-they-or-won’t-they factor in the story, which would put her in Donna’s lane.  Katrina, historically slotted as the ruthlessly devoted mentee of Harvey’s partner Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman), was softened through the course of the hour as she was tasked with firing the firm’s redundant associates, and seems to be on a new path to become Donna’s replacement for Rachel.

As is often the case on Suits, the supposed storyline–something about Harvey and Robert competing to have their respective clients drop divisions that would cause conflicts of interest for the firm–was barely explained and just this side of nonsense.  The competition was the point, and the ability to have one scene after another where an adversary anticipated the other’s move and strutted utter confidence or victory.  Since the plots on Suits are minimally engaging, the show relies on the relentless smart-ass banter between the characters and their tangled relationships to keep momentum going.  Mike and Rachel were the chief dance partners for Harvey and Donna, so their absences leave big gaps to be filled.  The premiere provided a blueprint, but not yet a clear solution to the problem.

USA has lots of confidence in Suits, not just renewing the series despite the need for major changes, but also commissioning the spin-off Second City, starring former co-star Gina Torres.  Macht, Rafferty and Hoffman provide a strong returning core, and no doubt Korsh will be given plenty of time to make the refitted Suits work.  If necessary he, like his characters, will adopt whatever shifts in strategy are needed for a win.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."