Boston Legal (TV Series 2004–2008) Poster

(2004–2008)

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9/10
Denny Crane and Alan Shore .... enough said !
RedRoadster24 August 2010
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!"
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10/10
Shatner is the BOMB!!!!!!!!
JJC-37 October 2004
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.
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The Best Show On TV. Period.
itdinternet30 November 2004
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.
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Excellent Show
Rault Walden29 November 2004
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.
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A hilarious and unlikely spin-off
tghoneyc10 January 2005
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 lifes.

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.
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7/10
Denny Crane!
magratk7 May 2006
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.
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This show may be better than The Practice ever was
markydeee28 November 2004
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!
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9/10
You Should Watch this Show
bradgad25 October 2008
I think you should watch this show.

It's delightfully weird.

Totally unrealistic, it has just enough I-don't-know-what to enable the all important willing suspension, and once you got that, you're golden.

Here's the little stuff, the stuff that you'll enjoy but don't need to go out of your way for:

1) It has Candice Bergen! Bergen fulfills her role (uber-classy uber-MILF) perfectly. (Plus, she's Candice Bergen. To this date, no one does Bergen as well as Bergen.)

2) Clemenson/Espenson is likable and offbeat. One of the best "spice" characters since, oh, I dunno, Hill Street Blues.

3) Sometimes John Larroquette shows up, and he's so tall! He doesn't have to actually say anything funny. He's John Larroquette. It's a grin just for him to show up. (That sounds dismissive and snarky, but it's not meant to be. I honestly believe this is Larroquette's great comic gift: he shows up. That's all he needs to do. That's what he does. It doesn't matter what he says, because all the humor is in the wry, sardonic (and tall) presence. On Night Court, he had some funny lines, but that was actually a distraction. Remember The West Wing and The Practice... he had no funny lines there, but the effect was the same: Larroquette's wry, sardonic (and tall) presence = a grin. (Although, to be fair, in The Practice he did actually play a character in addition to showing up.))

4) It has William Shatner!

And here's the big stuff, the stuff you'll never experience if you don't go out of your way to watch a few episodes:

1) It has William Shatner! Star Trek gave us William Shatner giving us Captain James T. Kirk. Boston Legal gives us William Shatner giving us William Shatner (as Denny Crane)... the intelligent goof we always suspected was playing Captain Kirk. Even if you weren't a Trekkie, it's such a cool feeling to feel like you're getting to hang out with the *real* Captain Kirk, the (intelligent, goofy) man behind the myth.

2) Despite -- or rather, alongside -- the show's unabashed unrealistic stance, it takes an honest stab at depicting honest emotions, especially (but not only) in the traditional closing scene, where Spader/Shore and Shatner/Crane share a Scotch, a cigar, a presumably rather nippy Boston evening, and a friendship.

3) It has James Spader! Who? James Spader! Who's Jame's Spader? I don't know, I never heard of him before I saw this show, but he's incredible. His character (Alan Shore) brings something unlike anything I've ever seen on television... a character that is, I think, truly Shakesperean in its immediacy and otherness.

In fact, I believe this is the secret ingredient of Boston Legal's success. Spader's Shore has a Shakesperean otherness, and once we accept this otherness (as we are compelled to do), it doesn't matter how unrealistic (or compressed or reductive) the rest of the show is. Once we (the audience) have signed up for this otherness, once the writers have that signature on the dotted line, they're free play around and cut corners as they like. Thankfully, they often (though not always) do so to good effect.
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10/10
The Best TV series ever....and Hollywood cancelled it!
highams28 August 2010
Simply the best TV series there has been.

James Spader and William S were first class, and I do hope they find something very similar.

Why do these sorts of shows get cancelled and others are still on TV that simply should not be there.

Any chance of a further spin-off, as James and William were great? I know if was already a spin-off.

At the moment of the show to watch - Big Bang Theory, Dexter, V, Justified (but only for Walton) and I am struggling to find any others.

Buy the entire series on DVD, Boston Legal is worth it.
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10/10
A near-perfect series that should not have been cancelled
ramshot9 February 2009
I'm going to make this as short as possible short, as I have little to say. As far as "pure" drama series' go, Boston Legal is the one that had it all right.

Fabulous actors, writers with imagination and a sense of humor, and most of all, the series had a soul. It had an opinion, and the nerve to bring it forth. Entertainment that is afraid of making a statement can be relaxing, but relaxing entertainment that manages to make a statement, whether the viewer agrees with the statement or not, is something much greater.

5 seasons is a lot better than a lot of worthy series have done, but still, the cancellation is a huge injustice and I will sorely miss the wits that this series had to offer. It is a shame that a series such as Boston Legal does not reach the grand audience that it well deserves.
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