Boston Legal - Season 2
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Led by an Emmy Award-winning cast (James Spader, Denny Crane and Candice Bergen), "Boston Legal" tells the professional and personal stories of a group of brilliant but often emotionally challenged attorneys. Fast-paced and darkly comedic, the series confronts social and moral issues, while its characters continually stretch the boundaries of the law.
Impressive in quality and quantity, the 27 episodes of Boston Legal's second season (2005-06) are a dazzling showcase for one of TV's greatest ensembles. Everything that made season 1 so entertaining is refined here, often to the point of perfection: As the resident bad boys of the prestigious Boston legal firm of Crane, Poole & Schmidt, senior partner Denny Crane (William Shatner) and maverick attorney Alan Shore (James Spader) continue their campaign of rampant indiscretion, combining unabashed sexism and political incorrectness with Denny's egotistical fat-cat sense of entitlement (and a touch of "Mad Cow") and Alan's passion for justice and courtroom theatrics. The departure of his girlfriend Tara (season 1's Rhona Mitra) has left Alan pensively lonely, so his male-bonding with Denny becomes the series' emotional core, even as it reaches new heights of hilarity in episodes like "Finding Nimmo," an instant classic in which Denny introduces Alan to the pleasures of fly-fishing. Back at the office, semi-regular cast member Betty White turns from murder to robbery, only to find herself redeemed as the new "sandwich lady" at C, P & S. And while senior partner Paul Lewiston (Rene Auberjonois) juggles the firm's ethical dilemmas and a rocky reunion with his drug-addicted daughter (superbly played by Jayne Brook), founding partner Shirley Schmidt (Candice Bergen) dodges advances from her soon-to-be-remarried ex-husband (Tom Selleck) while suspecting Denny's soon-to-be-sixth-wife (Joanna Cassidy) of high-stakes gold-digging. In the midst of it all, Denise (Julie Bowen) faces threatening competition from a new attorney (Parker Posey) and elusive love with a dying billionaire (Michael J. Fox) while playing "friends with benefits" with colleague Brad (Mark Valley), who's only too willing to indulge their arrangement.
Expanded roles for Bowen and Valley are just two of this season's welcome improvements; along with Bergen and Auberjonois, they add engaging counterbalance to the Spader/Shatner juggernaut, while newcomers Justin Mentell and Ryan Michelle Bathe (as legal assistants) add youthful appeal in roles that necessarily remained marginal for most of the season. As always, series creator David E. Kelley (aided by a new writing staff) maintains a constant flow of outrageous behavior (most of it Denny's) and compelling courtroom trials based on hot-button issues including assisted suicide, the war in Iraq, private school discrimination, medical malpractice, tax evasion and a variety of other cases in which belligerent judges (played by Henry Gibson, Anthony Heald, Howard Hesseman, Shelley Berman, and others) play antagonistic foils to Alan Shore's impassioned defense. (It's here where Spader excels; Shore may be a lascivious lothario, but you offend his moral conscience at your peril.) A stellar array of guest stars, impeccable editing and cinematography, and glossy office production design make Boston Legal a constant feast for the eyes and ears, with breezy emphasis on the farcical goings-on at Crane, Poole & Schmidt. (The series' writing and production values are explored in brief but enjoyable bonus featurettes included on the final DVD in this seven-disc set.)
With Denny and Alan's season-ending visit to Los Angeles (where they defend a sexy celebrity played by Star Trek: Voyager's Jeri Ryan), it's delightfully obvious that Shatner and Spader are the heart and soul of Boston Legal, which is ultimately about the mutual affection of two men whose viewpoints are often as polarized as their friendship is compassionately co-dependent. Bolstered by clever allusions to Shatner's Star Trek legacy and throwaway references to their own status as characters in a TV show (as Kelley and his writers deliberately demolish the "fourth wall" of TV for comedic effect), Spader and Shatner quickly turned their episode-closing balcony scenes into an honorable tradition, where differences dissolve in the taste of fine scotch and slowly-savored cigars. They're bringing us the finest "dramedy" that primetime network television has to offer, and we'll gladly follow them as their crazy lives continue. --Jeff Shannon
- 27 episodes on seven discs
- Two Featurettes: "Legal Pad: The Words of Boston Legal" and "The Look of Boston Legal"
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Must I say I was a bit wary of seeing a series notoriously depicting lawyers' professional and private life at large? Be they Bostonians, or whatever. Attorneys boringly tend to be the same, worldwide, and that's an understatement when it comes down to believing in simple ethics, for starters.
Now, be it a make-believe or not, I had a feeling I was coming closer to the real world, which I kinda got to know in the past. These people have a lot of shortcomings, they make a very profitable business out of the ordinary people's shortcomings, there's no telling where they will go to outsmart the shadowy fringes of law.
The fact is the screenplays are usually very smart, asking real questions and giving sometimes not-so-satisfactory answers, the way it definitely goes in the day-to-day reality. I like that. That's real life, with real bright non-nonsense, no-heroes who are definitely knowing this business brings a lot of difficult daily choices to be made along with it.
I also like the way people there skid at times a personal reflection or two about the powers-that-be. Denny Crane's references to "Antonio", "Dick" or "Jebb" are choice pickles to keep in mind when the time comes to look back at what these last unfortunate years really were.
BL is a thing you wanna keep for your kids, so that they might possibly get smarter for their own future.
It makes you laugh, it makes you think, it is enlightening on a wide variety of issues and backs them all up with hard facts. All the characters, even the minor ones are well developed and highly entertaining. Their strengths and weaknesses are dealt with incredible warmth and humour without becoming in any way melodramatic. It is also surreal and quirky at the same time, and all of that in 40 short minutes! Each episode is perfectly spaced and complete. It has the best one-liners I have ever come across. The closing arguments are clear, concise and so very eloquently delivered; you can discuss each one for days. The acting is of a very high standard and brings that wonderful writing to life and does it total justice.
I was hooked after 2-3 episodes and ended up watching all of them. Season 2 certainly doesn't disappoint, but I also highly recommend seasons 1 and 3. It is now in its 4th season and I find it incredible that with each new episode they still manage to hold our interest as if it was the first. It is like watching a never-ending comedy feature film, and you just don't want it to ever end! You can watch it over and over again and still laugh out loud. Nothing I can say can recommend it highly enough.
About the discs delivered from Amazon on Prime: Boston Legal - There must be problems in Amazon's warehouse or distribution center or supplier. Both Season Two and Season Three arrived in damaged packaging with discs loose and scuffed. I am extremely displeased, as these are gifts that I fortunately opened to inspect. The discs seem to play - but the scuffing shortens their life and may have compromised their ability to play completely in a dvd/blu ray player. I don't have time to watch all the discs before gifting, just a spot check. Imagine my disappointment.