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Suits: The Complete Series

by Glenn Erickson Apr 06, 2024

It was slick, glamorous, sexy — the cable series tickled TV viewers with fantasies of Wall Street wealth and power, adding extra fun with a gate-crashing imposter and his photographic memory. This is how the one percenters wished they lived: beautiful people in killer fashions, in a law firm that settles most disputes out of court — they’re too cool and too talented. When Netflix picked it up in mid-pandemic, there was no surprise that its ratings skyrocketed … a major role had been played by the future Duchess of Sussex, now one of the best-known women on the planet.


Suits The Complete Series
Blu-ray
Universal
2011-2019 / Color / 1:78 widescreen / 99 hours, or 5,026 minutes. / Street Date March 19, 2024 / Available from Movie Zyng / 109.98 but heavily discounted
Starring: Gabriel Macht, Rick Hoffman, Sarah Rafferty, Patrick J. Adams, Meghan Markle, Gina Torres, Dulé Hill, Amanda Schull, Wendell Pierce, Aloma Wright, Rachael Harris, Katherine Heigl, Christina Cole.
Cinematography: Dan Stoloff, William Klayer, John B. Aronson, Karl Walter Lindenlaub
Production Designer: Clive Thomasson, Tamara Deverell, Lindsey Hermer-Bell
Costume Design: Jolie Andreatta
Film Editor: Dan Rovetto, David Kaldor, Peter Forslund, Brock Hammitt
Series Music: Christopher Tyng
Written by (most episodes) Aaron Korsh, Sharyn Rothstein, Genevieve Sparling, Marshall Knight
Produced by Aaron Korsh, Gabriel Macht, Jonathan Hackett, Patrick J. Adams
Directed by (over 10 episodes)
Michael Smith, Anton Cropper, Christopher Misiano, Kevin Bray, Roger Kumble, Silver Tree

A huge streaming hit during the pandemic, Aaron Korsh’s long-running TV series was originally titled A Legal Mind. It premiered on the USA cable channel in 2011, when the big hit Mad Men was also viewed mostly on cable TV. Yes, viewers tuned in to see all 99 hours of the show, complete with commercials. The poor souls had to one episode at a time, instead of enjoying the luxury of pandemic binge-watching.

Suits The Complete Series is now available in one massive set, all 134 episodes on 34 discs in nine keep cases. It’s … a big collection, no denying that. The word online, unconfirmed, is that it’s identical to a UK boxed set released in 2019.

The office-centered multi-plotline serial is set in a prestige law firm run by the domineering but fair Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres). The stratified work force starts with the top-dog Managing Partner Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), who advises giants of industry as well as superstar athletes; his office is decorated with priceless signed mementos. Harvey lives higher than a king. His astronomical salary and perks include the expected glamorous apartment, million dollar sports cars and a string of girlfriends. Harvey is more than just smart and clever… and somewhat arrogant. We like him because he remains loyal to his friends and partners, no matter what.

 

Harvey’s main nemesis, for much of the series, is the highly competitive Senior Partner Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman), a math – statistics – economics Harvard genius. Louis is obsessed with clawing his way to a higher status, and he offends almost everyone with his unpleasant, insulting manners. Most of his schemes to dethrone Harvey are neutralized by Jessica Pearson, or by Harvey’s all-knowing, all-anticipating executive assistant Donna Paulsen. Incredibly efficient and socially adept, Donna is forever saving the day, office politics-wise. She knows she’s irreplaceable, and proudly explains that her talent is simply self-evident: “That’s why I’m Donna.”  The Mad Men series has its Joan Harris, but Donna is even more entertaining — hers is the bright, welcoming face we want to see each week.

Louis Litt runs the junior attorney pool, where a dozen or so handpicked young law graduates toil in a cluster of cubicles. His appalling mistreatment of these attorneys makes him the most hated person in the building. Soon earning special treatment is Rachel Zane (Meghan Markle), a talented paralegal who could have taken a better job at her father’s firm but prefers to conquer Pearson’s company on her own. Rachel wants to get to Harvard Law School, to earn her right to work alongside the best.

 

And then there’s the Wild Card player — a complete impostor.

Suits’ most distinguishing feature is its character-driven key conflict: Harvey invests heavily in the future of the brilliant young attorney Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams), a Harvard man with a photographic memory. Young and brash, Mike speed-reads legal briefs and documents and retains total recall. That enables him to improvise in the courtroom, coming up with brilliant citations, arguments and dodges that repeatedly save the day. Harvey loves a winner but also sees something special in Mike. He hires him without even a cursory background check. The big revelation is that Mike is not only not a Harvard grad, he was expelled from the law school. He’s been working as a bicycle messenger and earning money by illegally taking law exams for other students. Mike’s present roommate is a drug dealer, who tricks him into getting involved in a drug deal …

The first seasons are obviously a high-stakes game for Mike. As Mike doesn’t even know his own School Song, keeping Louis Litt in the dark about the deception is not easy. For the longest time, even Harvey is unaware that his impulsive hire could take them both down, and the company as well. Mike and Harvey’s maneuverings to avert disaster are a tightrope walk for the show’s writers as well. The success of Suits is that it somehow maintains an acceptable level of credibility.

The writers also maintain a sense of brisk business in the firm’s show-off offices, supported by a small army of overworked legal associates. Young Katrina Bennett (Amanda Schull) enters as a legal associate, and returns as a Junior Partner. Coming into the firm as Senior Partners in various seasons are the talented Alex Williams (Dulé Hill) and Samantha Wheeler (Katherine Heigl). The newcomers bring special talents but tend to be frustrated by competitive office politics, usually of the ‘promises not kept’ variety. Not even Jessica Pearson is immune from attack. Most of the conflicts make logical sense, even if characters ‘innocently’ cause problems by not communicating well with others. In the best episodes the effect is of a functioning world, where Jessica Pearson’s firm must fight daily to preserve its good reputation.

 

Inter-office subterfuge!  Treachery!  Expensive Lunches!

Movies and TV shows have forever aspired to presenting the glamour of Life at the Top, and the exalted attorneys of Suits dress for success so well that real Wall Street titans might be impressed. Each episode juggles more than one legal crisis, balanced by personality-driven inter-office squabbles. The egos involved are off the charts. Jessica Pearson needs a heavy hand to solve some disputes. Louis Litt thinks Harvey does nothing, whereas Harvey would say that he sidesteps grinding labor by making the perfect decisions at the perfect times. Harvey remains steadfast and loyal; we’re several seasons in before Louis does something unselfish.

The composition of the firm changes from season to season, with new partners added or deleted from the sign on the wall. Jessica Pearson must also defend against takeover bids, in particular continued coup efforts by a former co-owner who was caught in criminal acts, but who just won’t stay away. Mike’s bizarre deception eventually results in a prison term lasting more than an entire season. Another season is a protracted struggle to keep the entire firm from dissolving.

The show’s creators lean heavily on their personal experiences on Wall Street, but most of the audience would have no idea whether Suits is realistic, or a complete fantasy. Some of the principals live the life of the ultra rich, in a city where ostentatious wealth flaunts its luxuries. There’s plenty of hot romantic activity, but it’s not indiscriminate — some long-form series that run out of ideas and eventually have everybody sleep with everybody. When the intensely attractive Donna chooses a bedmate, it is of course big news. Even the most sophisticated shows of this kind eventually succumb to soap-opera plotting, but this show avoids it until the very end.

Sharply written, crisply directed, lavishly appointed, Suits never becomes dumb or makes a mistake it can’t correct. The characters stay fresh; Patrick Adams’ time spent in prison somehow avoids becoming silly. Rick Hoffman’s office villain begins as distasteful and morphs into a comic character with occasional endearing qualities, without completely unbalancing the dramatics. Gabriel Macht, Gina Torres and Sarah Rafferty are genuine beautiful people that would draw our attention no matter what. Two main characters eventually left, leaving a couple of seasons that weren’t as focused. But the show’s core never completely collapsed.

Yes, the series’ popularity rebounded mightily with the royal career progression of one of its actors. Film financiers dream of hiring a relative unknown that later becomes a superstar, something that doesn’t always pay off. The example we give is a so-so ’50s monster movie that became an eternal moneymaker for its lucky producer.

 


 

The sheer size of Universal’s Blu-ray of Suits: The Complete Series box is intimidating at first, until I look at my shelf and see the LONG line of Mad Men Blu-rays for fewer seasons. It’s nice to have an entire show organized in such a compact way.

The discs look and sound gorgeous; Suits maintained an audiovisual slickness at all times. The Blu-rays are equal to or better in quality than the show looked when streaming, what with the compression involved in digital delivery. The show’s look is so consistent that we aren’t even aware of the digital effects that must be used at all times — most of the series was filmed in Canada, yet all those natural views from the law firm’s high windows always say ‘New York.’ Up in Toronto, there must be a massive rental lot with American cabs, cop cars, signage, etc., for use by all those runaway productions. Canadian treachery, for sure!

The show made extensive use of high profile music cues from major talent; the four shows I sampled appear to retain all the original music. But no guarantees, sorry.

I’ve read nowhere else of any concerns with the set’s menus or formatting, but I have to say that I found them lacking. We don’t expect a booklet or paper insert to lay out the episode content of each disc, with chapter numbers, etcetera, but the disc menus themselves have no navigation links (that I can see). You can’t directly jump to, say, episode four in the first season. When one presses play, the first show on the disc starts, and progressing to the second episode means clicking through the chapters one by one until the season marker on the ‘info’ line changes from 1 to 2. Finding one’s place after a break would not be fun, even when consulting an online breakdown of seasons and episodes.

There is a ‘home’ button, but all it does is repeat the sixty seconds or so of text disclaimers, security notices, etc., that each disc begins with. A list of episodes does appear on the inside of each disc case.

Somebody tell the so-called ‘Savant’ how to use a disc interface, already.

Necessary disclaimer: If there’s some simple click solution for this navigation slow-up, we don’t mind being shown how it functions. The U.S. release of ‘the complete series’ is said to be identical to the U.K. release from five years ago, and I’ve so far read no online criticism.

As seen in the extras below, fans of the series that ‘want more’ will not be disappointed. The same variety of Style and Design featurettes popular on the older Mad Men discs are repeated here. Others address actor personalites, the series’ development and nostalgia bits, as when Mike and Rachel departed, etc.

Three episodes are given full audio commentaries, with the producers, a writer and actors Gabriel Macht and Patrick Adams. The balance of ‘special extras’ content collects deleted scenes and outtakes, plus the expected gag reels — if somebody made a funny face waiting for the director to say ‘action,’ it’ll be here.

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson


Suits The Complete Series
Blu-ray rates:
Series: Excellent
Video: Excellent
Sound: Excellent
Supplements:
Deleted scenes, gag reels, for each season
Audio commentaries for Dogfight (season 1), The Other Time and No Way Out (both season 3)
Topic featurettes:
Tricks of the Trade, Identity Crisis, Fan Q&A (season 1)
The Style of Suits, Sophomore Success, Punch Reel, Suits Recruits Webisodes (season 2)
A look Inside Season 3, Shooting Suits, Suits Recruits: Class Action, Alt. endings ‘No Way Out’ & ‘She’s Mine,’ Alt. opening ‘Endgame,’ (season 3)
The Paper Trail (season 4)
A Family Affair: Behind the Scenes of Suits, Life after Donna (season 5)
Anatomy of an Episode, Goodbye Jessica Pearson (season 6)
The People Behind the Suits, Mike and Rachel sendoff reel, A Centennial Moment (season 7)
One Last Con, Series Montage (season 9).
Deaf and Hearing-impaired Friendly? YES; Subtitles: English (feature only)
Packaging: One Blu-ray in Keep case
Reviewed:
April 4, 2024
(7105suit)
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Text © Copyright 2024 Glenn Erickson

About Glenn Erickson

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Glenn Erickson left a small town for UCLA film school, where his spooky student movie about a haunted window landed him a job on the CLOSE ENCOUNTERS effects crew. He’s a writer and a film editor experienced in features, TV commercials, Cannon movie trailers, special montages and disc docus. But he’s most proud of finding the lost ending for a famous film noir, that few people knew was missing. Glenn is grateful for Trailers From Hell’s generous offer of a guest reviewing haven for CineSavant.

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Jenny Agutter fan

If you ask me, Oliver Stone’s Wall Street told us all that we need to know about that world.

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