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!"