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Putting James Spader and William Shatner in their own show together was
a stroke of genius. Both are fine actors and they play off each other
perfectly. I generally don't enjoy legal dramas, but BOSTON LEGAL is
unique in its presentation. Rather than getting preachy, sleazy, or
melodramatic, it delights in the moral ambiguity of its main characters
and hides a little bon mot around every corner of dialog.
Shatner and Spader deliver every time, but never seem like they're trying too hard. Spader has been brilliant in almost everything he's appeared in, so we shouldn't expect any less from him here. I'm a little surprised, however, that so many people are caught off guard by Shatner's great performance. If you've followed him over the years, you'd know his sense of humor is wonderfully suited to this role. Honestly, I can't imagine a better fit for William Shatner than Denny Crane. Captain Kirk, indeed.
Any show that can put so many (hilarious) layers of meaning into the spoken name "Denny Crane" deserves all the accolades it gets.
I don't know, for a guy in his early 70's who has been royally and unfairly panned for his entire career, William Shatner as Denny Crane may be the absolute highlight of his long career! What a role and what a show. My ultimate benchmark as to how good a show is how fast I am back to that show during the commercial breaks. Didn't miss one second of Boston Legal so I guess that tells you that I liked it a lot. Of course the "Shat Man" drew me in but the overall show got me hooked. Well worth the late hour on Sundays. Rene Auberjonois ( of DS 9 fame) was an added surprise.
Forget Desperate Housewives or anything else. Boston Legal is the
comedy-drama that has been missing from TV for a long, long time. I
barely watched "The Practice" but I got hooked when James Spader and
William Shatner had guest-roles. When I heard these two would lead the
spin off "Boston Legal", I was exuberant!
James Spader as Alan Shore is by far the best acting on TV. The guy is priceless, reaching a level of pure arrogance that you can't help but love. William Shatner as Denny Krane is just as good. The women of the show bring a lot more beauty then Desperate Housewives. I view them as support characters, however as this show is all about Alan Shore and DENNY KRANE.
I admit I didn't watch "The Practice" as a regular show, but I saw
enough to see that it was a dark, clever series examining the everyday
work of a small Boston firm who primarily defended criminals. "Boston
Legal" is a much different show. Centered around a civil and corporate
firm that only occasionally deals in criminal cases. The place is a
circus, it's David E. Kelley's hybrid of "The Practice" and "Ally
McBeal," although the latter included hallucinations and bizarre love
Emmy-winner James Spader, the ever shameless and subtly self-destructive Alan Shore is the slimy playboy who, like it or not, is a fantastic attorney. Denny Crane (fellow Emmy-winner William Shatner) seems like the perfect match for Shore's unpredictable fashion. Both men are unorthodox, and Denny is slipping. He's also a great attorney, but he doesn't know it half the time. The two are the perfect team, each willing to forgive the other for their shortcomings in the area of law, and cover each other as such. Paul Lewiston (Rene Aberjonois) is the figurehead of everything they are not. He is respectable, by-the-book, and without conscience. The embodiment of the sleazy corporate attorney, and more concerned with keeping a client than with admitting a falacy on their part. Brad Chase (Mark Valley) is in the same boat insofar as playing by the rules, but he's Denny's man, and it pisses him off that Alan gets all the attention for his crimes. Laurie Colson (Monica Potter) is the idealistic attorney who has dabbled in Alan Shore's method of practicing law with disastrous consequences. Tara Wilson (Rhona Mitra) is finally sleeping with Alan, and happily playing along in his little game. And Sally Heep (Lake Bell) has all but disappeared since she broke up with Alan, so that she is little more than an errand boy (girl).
And most recently Candice Bergen has joined the cast at Crane, Poole, and Schmidt, as Shirley Schmidt (Edwin Poole has gone off the deep end after showing up at work, having only dressed the top half of his body.) and she appears to be Alan Shore in reverse. She's manipulative, wisecracking, and short with answers, but she seems to appeal to the ethical way of practicing law. Now back from New York and busting balls due to a law suit filed by one of their employees, she seems a welcome edition to the show.
Perfect follow-up to "Desperate Housewives," and just as funny. It's proof that David E. Kelley still has a few tricks up his sleeve.
Considering all the crap that is normally on Sunday(e.g. football and Nascar), this show is a refreshing change of pace. Spader and Shatner are an excellent duo. Spader already received an emmy, and hopefully Shatner will receive one too, if for no other reason than to silence the ignorant critics of this well-rounded show. Rarely will you find a legal show, that is humorous and poignant at the same time. Denny Craine's succinctness and Shore's coolness make this show a stand out. If ABC is smart, they will hold on to this show and try to replicate it's success, while in the meantime dumping all their worthless reality shows(redundancy I know). In conclusion, the great story lines and skillful acting make this show one of the best current series on television.
I'm a lawyer, and I normally avoid law shows. I like science fiction.
But this has . . . Denny Crane. Or rather, this has Captain Kirk,
William Shatner, as an old, demented, republican, gun totting,
ego-maniacal unenlightened, philandering, unethical, sexist, homophobic
anti- environmentalist powerful attorney, and it is absolutely frelling
hysterical. When they let Shatner, Candice Bergman, and James Spader do
their thing, this show is gold. The rest of the regularly appearing
cast is fairly good.
Sure not modeling good behavior, mind, and sometimes the legal errors go far beyond what is necessary for the plot. I think they could loose some of the younger lawyers, who really don't add anything to the mix that I can tell but seem to be regarded as necessary for demographic reasons. Once in a while it falls flat. But for the most part, this show is great.
After 8 episodes of Boston Legal, I am hooked. I was a big fan of The Practice for the first 4 seasons or so but lost interest until the final season when Spader was brought on. His emmy-winning portrayal of Alan Shore has transferred seamlessly to this spin off, and the rest of the ensemble cast is, by and large, excellent. It took a couple of episodes for me to warm up to the Lori Colson character but now I can see why she is the female center of the show -- she is effectively the anti-Shore. Shatner is (surprisingly) brilliant and, while the Tara character doesn't get enough airtime, I love every second she's on screen. The tone of the show is a pitch-perfect mix of quirkiness, drama and dark humor, and the pacing is much swifter than The Practice, which in the later seasons became sluggish, droning and depressing. Here's hoping Boston Legal can keep it going!
Boston Legal is one of the best takes on a TV legal drama that I have
seen. It manages to mix drama and comedy pretty well for the most part
and introduces us to Alan and Denny who are magnetic characters, played
to perfection by James Spader and an incredible William Shatner. To
review this whole 5 season series (which i have steadily worked through
on DVD over the last 2 months) would take forever, so let me highlight
a few good and bad points as i see them.
Season 1 & 2 had a sharper edge and better dialogue than subsequent seasons. It felt almost as if they were searching for better ratings from season 3 onwards and chose to introduce characters and plots which would deliberately jazz things up a bit. In my opinion the show suffered because of this.
The characters Jefferey Coho, Claire Simms, Lorraine Weller and Clarence / Clarice Bell added virtually nothing to the show that wasn't there already (other than the cross dressing element) and as they failed to perk up ratings its almost as if David E Kelly thought "well... tried some new faces, didn't work, lets write them out and try something else."
I also felt that the writers seemed to ignore the more obvious direction that they could have taken, which would have been to flesh out the Denny and Alan characters even more. You are treated to some glimpses of their past when they are discussing their lives on the balcony, but Dennys brilliant former career is never seen first hand and Alans many previous painful issues are only represented in the narrative. Perhaps if even more screen time had been given to these two instead of trying to continually bolster up the supporting characters, the show would have been more successful.
The recurring theme of the lawyers in the show standing trial for their various indiscretions and always getting away with it was an over used plot and began to wear a bit thin. Similarly, I can only recall one trial verdict of any kind that didn't go in favour of Mssrs Crane, Poole and Schmidt.
There were flashes of poetry with this show that i felt genuinely moved by. To name a few .....
- Alans closing argument to allow Shirleys father the right to a dignified death
- Dennys dominant yet tender legal confrontation with his "son" Donny.
- Alans arguing against the death penalty in front of the supreme court
- Paul's fatherly approach to everyone at the firm.
- Alans good and honest heart (which he tries hard to conceal)
- The brilliant portrayal of Jerry Espenson by Christain Clemenson
- The unbreakable friendship between Denny and Alan, and subsequently between most of the characters at Crane, Poole and Schmidt.
In summation (may as well use the legal terminology), despite the shows many lulls and obvious flaws, I absolutely loved it. William Shatner is a revelation in his role and James Spader is Perfect in his.
On a personal note, I have lost count of the times my wife has gone ballistic because I have responded to a situation or question by simply saying in the appropriate tone ................. "Denny Crane!"
If the first episode is any indication, Boston Legal will continue what it started as "The Practice" last year and remain on the air. Given the splash made by James Spader on the waning Practice, this spin off was developed. And last night's episode was clever and funny, with a black woman charging racial discrimination for her daughter who was not cast as Annie. Every time anyone looked at this kid, she sang "Tomorrow." The episode sported a cameo appearance and a hilarious bit by the Reverend Al Sharpton. There were other subplots, but for me, Annie stole the show! Rebecca de Mornay seems missing from the cast, but there is the neat addition of Mark Valley, from the ill-fated, also excellent "Keen Eddie." I look forward to future episodes to see what Spader, Shatner and the able cast will be up to.
Programs like Boston Legal are competing for some very coveted viewers.
Dangerous Housewives may be more the taste for those looking for "the
edgey dramedy" on prime time and Nip/Tuck and Rescue Me have also found
a loyal following with some pretty important demographics.* The kind of
viewers that can keep a show like Boston Legal alive for a few seasons.
I'm a huge fan of the show...and was one of those people who only began to watch The Practice when Spader appeared. The moral ambiguity of the show's primary characters and the splash of David Kelly made for a wonderful show. That it found the viewers it did is a tribute to the inspired casting and originality of it's story lines. I think Shatner is a wonderful comeback story and the inclusion of Mark Valley may prove to be a superb choice...introducing a fellow who is much more than a pretty face. His character will go nose to nose with Alan Shore and not in the fluttery Major Burns manner. This is a guy who's gonna a win a few...and that in itself bodes well for the show. I look forward to reading everyone's comments on this terrific show.
*This year the Sopranos will return with first run episodes again and it's the farewell season. The show will runs opposite Boston Legal as will Nip/Tuck.
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