Nick Fallin (Simon Baker, "The Mentalist") works for his dad, Burton Fallin (Dabney Coleman) in his Pittsburgh law firm - only after getting in trouble for drug use. The series opens with Nick being sentenced to 1500 hours community service working for Children's Legal Services as a child advocate. Having worked as a high-powered corporate lawyer, Nick must now balance his time between working for his demanding father and with children who desperately need his help. The show does an excellent job balancing the corporate law cases and the cases involving the children.
The characters are all strong and well developed. Nick Fallin is a great example of a multi-layered character that finds balance between his ego and his heart - which is not only due to the writing but Baker's convincing - and surprisingly sympathetic - performance. At the Children's Legal Services, Nick works with Alvin Masterson (Alan Rosenberg), who is initially skeptical of Nick, but grows to realize he genuinely means well.
Nick also works alongside James Mooney (Charles Malik Whitfield), who goes to great lengths for his clients. The difference between the characters/cases at Childrens Legal Services and the corporate law firm is an interesting contrast, but what makes the scenes at the corporate law firm so enjoyable are the conversations between Nick and Burton. Coleman is fantastic opposite Baker and together they manage to create a very believable father-son relationship: while the two love one another, the relationship is certainly strained at times, and Nick harbors some resentment towards his parent.
"The Guardian" has a promising premise and touching (and some heartbreaking) storylines. However, it's often the subtler moments here that make the series as moving as it is. While it's not entirely a new concept for television (the list of legal dramas on TV in the last several years seems never-ending), there are some standout episodes in this first season of "The Guardian", including the pilot episode, which thrusts Nick into a hearing he's unfamiliar with given that he deals with corporate law. The realization starting to settle in that he's going to have to learn to work in a new way with more unsettling cases makes the pilot one of the more enjoyable episodes of the season. The pilot case involving a young boy named Hunter (Erik Knudsen, in a moving and memorable performance) spans throughout 4 episodes and is well-handled by the series.
The episode "Loyalties" brings in a potential love interest for Nick named Lulu (Wendy Moniz) who also happens to be his new boss at Children's Legal Services. Lulu remains throughout the show's three season run and has very nice chemistry with Baker. Another enjoyable episode is "Casualty" that sees Nick go up against his dad and Alvin facing a case from his past.
Although the series may not have provided anything too new, "The Guardian" did manage to offer a bit more heart than most shows in the genre, as well as strong performances (Baker got a Golden Globe nomination) from the ensemble cast. Fans of Baker's "The Mentalist" may want to check out this prior drama.
• Season 1
1. 25 Sep 01 Pilot 2. 2 Oct 01 Reunion 3. 9 Oct 01 Paternity 4. 16 Oct 01 Lolita? 5. 23 Oct 01 The Men from the Boys 6. 30 Oct 01 Indian Summer 7. 6 Nov 01 Feeding Frenzy 8. 20 Nov 01 Heart 9. 27 Nov 01 The Funnies 10. 11 Dec 01 Loyalites 11. 18 Dec 01 Home 12. 8 Jan 02 Causality 13. 22 Jan 02 Privilege 14. 5 Feb 02 Family 15. 26 Feb 02 In Loco Parentis 16. 5 Mar 02 Solidarity 17. 12 Mar 02 The Divide 18. 26 Mar 02 Mothers of the Disappeared 19. 9 Apr 02 Lawyers, Guns and Money 20. 7 May 02 Shelter 21. 14 May 02 Chinese Wall 22. 21 May 02 The Beginning
VIDEO: "The Guardian" is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen by Paramount. The picture quality looked very good, as while these episodes never appeared razor sharp, they looked consistently clear and crisp.
Still, a few minor concerns were spotted, including a couple of minor instances of edge enhancement and a few slight traces of pixelation. The elements used in the presentation looked to be in great shape, with no visible wear. Colors appeared bright and warm, with very nice saturation and no smearing.
SOUND: The show's audio is presented in Dolby 2.0. The show's audio was perfectly fine, if nothing to write home about - not surprising, given the material. Dialogue remained clean and well-recorded, while music sounded full and warm. Overall, the show's audio covered the bases well enough.
EXTRAS: The only thing included here are three promos for the series.
Final Thoughts: "The Guardian" offers a superb ensemble cast and several strong episodes throughout this first season. The DVD set provides next-to-no supplements, but fine audio/video quality. Recommended.