Lynn – “You SUCK, you should just quit now!” she looks at herself in the mirror with disgust while practicing interrogations for tomorrows witness. It is her first trial … and she is terrified.

Paul Wong
Courtesy of FOX
Avril Lavigne they are not.

Jeannie – “It’s a school night.” She smiles awkwardly at her boss’s dinner invitation, feeling inadequate and pressured in the male-dominated world of litigation. He is very interested in her success, but for all the wrong reasons.

Sarah – “You’re a dyke!” she explodes at her most hated coworker as the office goes silent. After agreeing to weekend anger management seminars to save her job, she heads back to do research wondering if she’ll ever see the inside of a courtroom.

Welcome to “Girls Club,” executive producer David E. Kelley’s (“Ally McBeal,” “The Practice”) fresh look into the lives of three young San Francisco lawyers on FOX. Lynn (Gretchen Mol, “Donnie Brasco”), Jeannie (Kathleen Robertson, “Beverly Hills 90210”) and Sarah (Chyler Leigh, “That 80s Show”) friends since law school, now work for the same firm where stress is prevalent and mistakes are inevitable. Surrounded by bosses that disrespect them and bombarded by clients ranging from the overwhelming to the outrageous (in true David E. Kelley form) their bond of friendship is the only thing that keeps them sane.

Attempting to fill the big shoes left by “Ally McBeal” on Mondays at nine, this drama has touches of the same flare as its predecessor without the wacky special effects and dance interludes. On “Girls Club,” it is time to get down to the business of being a lawyer. The pilot episode opens with Lynn bugging Jeannie and Sarah to listen to her opening argument in the middle of the night. She has practiced thousands of times, but her first case, a murder trial, means everything to her.

Meanwhile Jeannie works on a deposition for a lady suing her ob-gyn because he fainted duringher examination. A hilarious flashback brings comic relief. Jeannie is determined to succeed, but at what cost? Her boss, Spencer Lewis (Brian Markinson, “Dark Angel”) has a suggestion, actually several sexual ones, leaving Jeannie trapped and disgusted.

After feverishly studying to write a brief, Sarah is reprimanded by “The Praying Mantis” (the firm’s only female partner played by Lisa Barns) who is “disappointed” in her writing and loses the case. Overwhelmed with frustration, she blows up in a homophobic manner. Sarah dreams of life in the courtroom but fears the partners, especially Nicholas Hahn (Giancarlo Esposito, “Ali”) who she believes want them to fail.

Long time “McBeal” fans might be disappointed in this levelheaded drama, offering more seriousness and less laughs. But “Girls Club” has the elements needed to become great in its own way. The cinematography is inviting and interesting, with slow motion and fast frame segments underplayed by upbeat music or suspenseful silence. Court scenes are as portrayed by TV before but more nerve racking as we watch these novices learn the ropes.

Though it takes a little imagination on the audience’s part to accept that all three best friends happen to have jobs in the same firm, their comradery is charming. The script provides an ideal blend of comedy and drama showing the long road to success is difficult and full of self-doubt. The three leading ladies are professional, beautiful and convincing causing the audience to await the rest of their lives with them. Life after law school isn’t easy for this “girls club” of 27 year-olds, but they have the guts, confidence and great producers to help them succeed.

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