In "The Guardian," Nick Fallin practices law in two very different worlds. 

Striking a Balance

He's thirtysomething, he's a crackerjack lawyer, he's smart as a whip, and he's a hottie.

Trouble is, he let the good life and a hefty amount of disposable income suck him into the vortex that sometimes snares the rich and weak-willed: He started messing around with drugs.

Then he got caught.

And that sets up the premise of "The Guardian."

Before the bottom dropped out of his world, Nick Fallin was sitting in the catbird's seat. He had a law degree, and, what's more, he worked for his dad, who was the head of one of Pittsburgh's most powerful law firms. But after he got busted, the judge gave him two choices. One was disbarment. The other was an enormous chunk of community service — as an advocate for children.

Nick picked door No.2.

Now, when he's not masterminding mergers, acquisitions, assorted civil suits and all of that dull — but extremely lucrative — stuff that lawyers do, he works for a child advocacy office. And although he started off hating kids and the idea of working for free, he's beginning to get into his new groove. He's actually starting to like straddling two different legal worlds.

His new clients need him as much, if not more, than the guys in the suits who live life out of their briefcases. Young Hunter Reed saw his father kill his mother, and now he needs Nick's help because he has to decide whether to tell the truth about what he witnessed. A teen-age girl accuses her stepfather of raping her, and Nick believes her at first. Then he discovers there are holes in her story. The handicapped son of a prostitute who's about to go to jail wants to live with his stepfather while his mom's behind bars. But the stepfather has a checkered past, and social services wants to put the boy in a group home. A 16-year-old boy who's been kicked out of his house because he's gay is living on the streets. A gay couple is willing to adopt him, but the court won't allow it.

Nick has to find solutions to their problems, while at the same time keeping his dad's rich clients happy. The balancing act is not an easy one.

Executive producers Michael Pressman and David Hollander have cast the series well. Simon Baker plays Nick Fallin, with Dabney Coleman as his father and Alan Rosenberg as the head of the child advocacy office.

Baker first grabbed headlines nearly a decade ago when he won a top new-talent award in Australia. He packed his clips and moved to Los Angeles, where he was immediately cast in the movie "L.A. Confidential." His most recent film was "Red Planet," and he's just wrapped the period film "Affair of the Necklace" co-starring Hilary Swank.

Coleman has a number of films to his credit, including "9 to 5" and "Tootsie," and his TV credits include series ranging from "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" to "That Girl." Rosenberg has more TV than big-screen experience in shows such as "L.A. Law," "Cybill" and "Chicago Hope."

It's hard to find a new take on an old standby like lawyer shows. But "The Guardian" has done it, and so far has done it very well.


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