"The genius that is David E Kelly and Boston Legal. There have been a handful of shows that I consider to be the very best of what television has to offer and Boston Legal is at the very top of the list.
At the centre of the show is the relationship between Alan Shore and Denny Crane. These charachers have so richly been brought to life by the remarkable talents of James Spader and William Shatner.
Who would have thought William Shatner of all people would go on to play one of the truly wonderful and eccentric characters on TV. You never know where the character is going to go, but you know you're in for one unbelieveable ride!
He is equally matched and more so in my eyes by that of James Spader. He continues to amaze me as to how he delivers superlative performances episode after episode. It's just staggering to watch his talent at work and it has been an absolute pleasure to have watched him in all his Alan Shore glory. During the 5 year run, he was at the very best of his game and not many could truly match him in this regard.
The relationship between the two is what makes the show truly great. Having watched the characters develop over the years, starting with "The Practice" has been pure joy and something that doesn't come along often.
I have also enjoyed watching the other characters througout it's run. It's great to see Candice Bergen display her wonderful talents yet again on the small screen. She gets better as she gets older! Her first episode on the show, "Schmidt Happens" is still one of my favourites and the banter between Bergen and Spader is one to behold.
Christian Clemenson and Tara Summers both deserve a special mention for both drawing out and making the characters of Jerry and Katie all their own. I could so easily watch both of them in their own spin-off!
And finally, the show would not be what it is without the glorious writing talents of David E Kelly. I just marvel at the writing and without it, there would be no Boston Legal.
As much as I hate to see the show disappear from the small screen so soon, it is better to get out on top and that is where it will always be!"
A Big Loss of Creative Humor
J. W. Lins | Springfield, VA | 03/22/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Not much to say really -- this kind of intelligent humor and character development will be sorely missed. Thank goodness for electronic preservation."
All Good Things...
Captain Jag | Juneau, Alaska | 05/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the final season of Boston Legal, one of the most intelligent and funny shows ever to air. It will be sorely missed by those desiring tv shows with actual substance, but judging by the continued popularity of dreck such as American Idol and Dancing with the Stars those people are few and far between.
The fifth season is wonderful, albeit short. Aside from the slightly awkward "Thanksgiving" there is not a weak episode to be found. I highly recommend this and all other seasons of Boston Legal."
Denny Crane's last hurrah
Raygraph | Costa Rica | 06/28/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"David E. Kelley's writing, when focused on political or social issues, is still brilliant in this final season of Boston Legal. The bits that used to be comic relief in the previous seasons, though, have taken center stage, and cast a dark shadow over the deeper ideologies presented.
We're left scratching our heads as to why the scripts spend so much time on William Shatner's character, Denny Crane and his increasingly adolescent behavior. Perhaps this is why ABC canceled the show.
The acting continues to be fun, especially James Spader as Alan Shore, but it is dragged down by the sophomoric pranks and thoughts of Denny Crane. I enjoy a good dirty joke as much as the next red-blooded American, but to waste the soapbox that David E. Kelley created with the sexual yearnings of an aging, diseased lawyer seems moronic.
Still more entertaining than most shows, it misses the mark of the previous seasons, in my opinion.
THEIR BRIEFS ARE FOLDED
Mark Turner | 06/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For five years viewers of television have had the opportunity to watch a show that was interesting, intelligent, motivated at times by the cause of the week and definitely funny as hell. It's too bad that these sorts of shows never seem to catch on with the viewing public. Then again, given network televisions desire for an immediate hit and ridiculous choices to alter their schedules on a whim, it's easy to see why a deserving show might slip through the cracks or be lost amid the weekly shuffle. Such is the case with BOSTON LEGAL.
After five seasons on the air, BOSTON LEGAL has closed the doors to the offices of Crane, Poole and Schmidt. Which is too bad for television audiences since another great series bites the dust to only be replaced with the cost effective reality show of the week or perhaps a star vehicle for the pet of some producer. Then again it makes for great news for DVD fans because as well as the show did, it was given the chance to be released on DVD. And this last season just released gives us the chance to savor the episodes from season five like fine wine.
For those who have never seen the show, start with season one and catch up or perhaps I could give you a short summation of how the show has evolved. As it opened we were there to see the arrival of up and coming attorney Alan Shore (James Spader) who was coming off of THE PRACTICE, another great law series that ended before it's time. Alan has just taken on a job with the firm and walks into what will become the usual turmoil as one of the senior partners has a breakdown. Get ready because this is the norm.
Spader's Alan Shore is a campaigner. He believes in a number of things and is the voice of the writers as they use him to defend the little guy and take on the big guns. Everything from big tobacco to pharmaceutical companies is tackled by Shore by the end of the fifth year. But Shore is not your normal attorney. Instead he is prone to rampant rambling while he pursues the justice he seeks in each battle. He's also a letch of the highest order, viewing nearly every woman he sees as a conquest while at the same time emulating the highest respect for them all.
Shore's biggest defender is the firm's high ranking senior partner, Denny Crane (William Shatner). Denny is perhaps the oddest character on the show. A womanizer as well, Denny is so self absorbed with his own fame that he often just says his name aloud with the expectation that in so doing he will intimidate any and all around him, which it usually does. Denny is also affected with what he calls "mad cow" disease, the early stages of Alzheimer's. As the show progresses, Denny and Alan become the greatest of friends.
Into the fold comes Shirley Schmidt (Candice Bergen), the voice of reason. Shirley is another senior partner and at one time the love interest of Denny until she broke it off. Shirley stands for the calm voice in the firm, the one who puts their foot down to stop the ridiculous from happening but who rarely sees her expectations met.
These are the three mainstays who began from season one and who remained until the end. Their interaction is tremendous, especially the friendship seen between Crane and Shore. Each episode ended with the two of them sitting on Denny's balcony in the office, enjoying a cigar and glass of scotch while they ruminated about things that happened during that episode. As the series progressed, you were witness to the closeness, the bond that developed between the two. Theirs was a unity rarely seen in even the best of marriages. As a matter of fact by the end of season five the pair was petitioning to use the same sex marriage to be joined in wedlock, not out of physical attraction but as a way to circumvent the laws concerning spousal support and decision making as well as current tax laws. These two men genuinely loved one another as much as two friends can.
By season five we also had several other main characters involved. John Larroquette was there as Carl Sack, a rather stuffy lawyer and love interest for Bergen's Shirley. His character basically replaced that of Rene Abourjonois who was the bad guy in the beginning (and who returns by the end). But Carl becomes as comfortable a character as the rest by mid-season five, making Larroquette's character another that you would enjoy spending time with.
Notable is Christian Clemenson as attorney Jerry Espenson. Suffering from a form of autism, Jerry began as a side character that walked the halls with his girlfriend, a mannequin he addressed as such. He developed into a character with obvious flaws that fought his own personal battles as well as those of his clients. The character came along with ticks and taps and pops, noises and movements he made including clutching his hands to his thighs, but in spite of those problems he was one that we all loved and wanted so much more for.
Tara Summers rounded out the main cast members at the end portraying Katie Lloyd, an attorney given the task of assisting Espenson. She also became the object of his affection though he steered clear of letting her know. The usual plot device of sexual tension between two characters was turned on its ear here as the duo often seemed on the verge of actually becoming interested in one another but instead moved in the opposite direction. At least for Lloyd's perspective.
All of the lawyers involved in this series were far from the normal lawyers we've become accustomed to over the years as seen on television. They were a quirky bunch who would take on cases ranging from client's whose parents died of cancer cause by smoking to that of an elderly lady attacking the networks for programming shows aimed only at the youth of America while omitting that made for older people, a segment they proved made up the vast majority of viewers. Yes, both of these topics came up in season five and made for interesting viewing.
Season five also brought about a number of changes at the firm. Shirley and Carl decided to marry, much to the consternation of Denny who has longed to reunite once more with Shirley. The closeness between Denny and Alan, as noted earlier, became deeper as Denny moved from the early stages of Alzheimer's to a deeper onset. And the romance that had lied deep beneath the surface between Jerry and Katie began to show signs of becoming a reality.
All lose ends were tied up nicely with a big bow by series creator David E. Kelly. And new possible threads were put into play when he made the firm about to close and facing bankruptcy. A buy out by the Chinese made for an interesting storyline as did Alan and Denny going before the Supreme Court one more time, the epitome of a lawyer's career, in the hopes of getting Denny the right to use non-FDA approved medication to stave off his disease.
Of the characters in this series each offered something special that made you care about them all and want to continue to watch them. To single one out might be considered slighting the rest. But for me, William Shatner deserved the highest accolades for his performance as Denny Crane. Saddled with the mantle of being Captain Kirk for generations of TV and movie viewers and as police office T.J.Hooker for the children of the 80s, Shatner shined as Denny Crane. Never once can you see him here and think of either previous character, a major coupe for an actor to do so. Denny may not always make the right choices, but by the series end, you have to be heartless not to love him.
While this may sound like numerous details of the show it falls far short. These were merely some of the high points in twelve episodes that brought the series to its rousing finale. And through it all the cast, crew and writers kept a tremendous sense of humor about it all, often joking through the characters about the end. More than once a character would ask "Do you think this is a case we should take?" only to get the response "Why not, it's our last season", tongue firmly planted in cheek each time.
Who knows how long it will take for a series to reach the heights that this one did. I am sure one will come along. But that right combination of writing, setting, cast and crew is a rarity in today's TV land. Until such time comes along when this happens, make sure you keep BOSTON LEGAL alive. The entire series on DVD is worth owning. And this one, season five, caps off a run that should be talked about for years. "