Boston Legal - Season Three
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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.
In year 3, Boston Legal continues to toggle with ease between comedy and pathos. The season begins on a bittersweet note as Denise (Julie Bowen) gets engaged to the terminally ill Daniel (Michael J. Fox), who disappears to try an experimental treatment. Enter two new litigators, smart-talking associate Claire Sims (Constance Zimmer) and cocky partner Jeffrey Coho (Craig Bierko). Once Daniel exits the picture, Jeffrey and Brad (Mark Valley) compete for Denise's affections. The firm soon welcomes a third new face: legal secretary Clarence (Gary Anthony Williams)--also known as Clarice, Clavant, and Oprah.
As before, cases vary from minor to major. Story arcs include the murder of a judge's wife (with Ashton Holmes as the suspect and Katey Sagal as his mother) and an outrageous peeping tom (David Dean Bottrell) with a jones for Shirley (Candice Bergen). Denny Crane (William Shatner), meanwhile, finds love with diminutive attorney Bethany (Meredith Eaton-Gilden)--and her mother, Bella (Delta Burke). And Alan (James Spader, who scored a second Emmy to add to the one he received for The Practice) helps former co-worker Jerry "Hands" Espenson (Christian Clemenson) out of a few jams. By the end of the season, Jeffrey is gone, while Jerry returns to Crane, Poole & Schmidt.
Throughout the year, the firm tackles a variety of timely issues, ranging from religious freedom to immigration law. Reporter Gracie Jane (Jill Brennan), a Nancy Grace doppelgänger, also comes in for some ribbing. Aside from recurring characters, like Jane Lynch (as a sexual surrogate), the third season counts a few actors behind the camera, such as Eric Stoltz ("Dumping Bella") and Adam Arkin ("Nuts"), from David E. Kelley's Chicago Hope. The featurette Character Witness looks at the year's most colorful characters--turns out Spader and Clemenson are old friends--and Out of Order looks at the judges, notably Gail O'Grady, Howard Hesseman, and Shelley Berman. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Stills from Boston Legal: Season Three
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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.
The loss of Brad is a serious blunder but the three protagonists William Shatner, James Spader and Candice Bergen can still hold it together. After recovering from the weak word salad gag from the first season, Alan Shore gives a speech to Denny on the balcony about losing his virginity. It is a masterful piece of acting. Shatners reactions are priceless.
The magic that these two have is a wonder to behold.
I don't mind Saffron Burrows. Not at all as good as Tara but still hot.
There are lots of new characters this season. There has been a good cleanout. I love the introduction of the Brit, Tara Summers. She is a very good actor. Her delivery of `the `dog's bollocks' was spot on. The Fat Black transvestite is gone and I for one am glad. I felt his performance was unconvincing in either character. The introduction of John Larroquette is iffy because Cadice Bergun has better taste. Denny would be crushed at how low she has gone. Christian Clemenson is a very good actor. I do hope `Hands' doesn't turn into a lolly pop boy.
The Season has started strongly for a change and "Do Tell" is a finely worked play but for that stupid word salad number. James Spader is too good an actor for those unconvincing gags.
Brad Chase played by Mark Valley has left to be a district Attorney, which is a bit of a shock considering the pay cut. What a talent is missing from the threesome. I don't mind the black girl with the wig. Taraji P. Henson. (Is she related to the Muppets? ) It must be hard to enter into a great show with such presence. I think she pulled it off but is it a wig designed by a Henson?
I still miss Tara but I have heard from inside sources that she is shooting people in Hollywood, so beware. Brad, I know I will miss. All hail the threesome.
BOSTON LEGAL: SEASON 3
The first four episodes of Boston Legal Season three are very weak and provide a shaky start to this Classic American television series. Thankfully the following episodes soar in quality and the series returns to its confident and often brilliant best. The standout episodes are "Lincoln" and "On the Ledge".
The problems with series three are simple. Poor casting is solely responsible for the weaker points in the show. The casting of Craig Bierko and Gary Anthony Williams are serious own goals. Craig Bierko is a comedy actor of sorts and it shows. His scenes have a lack of authenticity about them, as if he knows he is being funny. This actor does not have enough charm or talent to pull off the part of an intelligent and wisecracking lawyer. His underwritten part is not sure whether to be another Alan Shore or Brad Chase when really we need neither. Luckily he is conspicuously absent from all the latter episodes.
Gary Anthony Williams is also a poor piece of casting. The actor is completely unconvincing and overplays his part ridiculously. He never listens to the other actors and continues to mug or make stupid facial expressions, which are distracting especially when he is not the focus of the scene. I think the theatrical term is "upstaging". The love interest he has with the Constance Zimmer is completely unconvincing because there is no chemistry between the two actors.
That said the confirmed magic between Shatner and Spader is ever present. It is simply a joy to watch these brilliant actors at work. Candice Bergen is as riveting as ever. She is a wonderful Actor. Mark Valley is constantly underused but when he is lucky enough appear in an episode and show us how good he can be as an actor it often proves to be a highlight of the series.
Constance Zimmer is very good addition to the cast but her part is woefully underwritten. I would like to see her become an honorary man in the eyes of Danny and Shore.
Christian Clemenson delivers a perfectly pitched performance. Julie Bowen as always is perfect. Anthony Heald and the superb Henry Gibson need to be mentioned for their hugely enjoyable performances. All the other cast members are excellent but I would like to see the return of Christopher Rich.
I feel the loss of Parker Posey from the cast roster was a shame as she portrayed a very compelling character that could have caused greater conflict within the Law Firm. I still feel the show misses Tara significantly.
As a whole Season 3 keeps getting better and better because the writers realise that concentrating on the main relationships of the series makes for better episodes.
BOSTON SEASON: One & Two
"Boston Legal" is that rare American show that is both intelligent and original. The result is a completely compelling and engrossing "tele-visual feast".
The almost magical chemistry between Shatner and Spader is remarkable to behold. This is a casting coup if there ever was one. Their relationship is beautifully played and completely life affirming. It is so good to see William Shatner being given the chance to perform in a part that demands of his talent. He has always been an extraordinary showman and it is a crime that it has taken so long to acknowledge just how good he is.
Spader has a charm and perverseness as an actor that is hard to quantify. He has such allure and grace. His delivery of such very complicated and complex speeches is a master class for all in his profession. His performance, as is Shatner's, is simply brilliant!
The actors are of course served with perceptive and enlightened scripts, that cry out for change in modern America. The scripts are never preachy and yet always funny. These scripts are excellent examples of great American screen writing, which more often that not is becoming harder to find.
The casting is generally excellent. The loss of Rhona Mitra in the second series is a terrible blow. She is a very good actor and sorely missed. Mark Valley is also a hidden gem. Some of the best episodes involve his "Mannix" aspirations and his bouts of rapid verbal dexterity. The inclusion of Cadice Bergen to the heady mix of Shatner and Spader is a masterstroke. She is such a superb actor with an extraordinary depth. Her ability to deliver speeches with such brilliant clarity and simple emotion is a wonder to behold. Julie Bowen is another great addition to the second series. She is simply excellent. Her range of facial expressions seems limitless! Another casting coup is the inclusion of the talented Parker Posey towards the end of the second series. This is simply an inspired piece of casting. I hope her character will be developed further, as Parker Posey is an actor with a rare talent that includes precise comic timing. Anthony Heald and the superb Henry Gibson need to be mentioned for their perfectly pitched and hugely enjoyable performances. One actor in particular almost steals the show from Spader in the episode called "Legal Deficits". His name is Christopher Rich and he plays to perfection a creepy, ingratiating Texas Attorney. The scene between Rich and Spader is one of the most electrifying and satisfying in the whole series.
The only criticism I have of "Boston Legal" is the development of the only completely unbelievable character in the series. Catherine Piper played unsympathetically by Betty White. Her performance is completely at odds with the rest of the show and cast. Her performance tries to be funny but is far from it. At one point she tells Alan Shore before his closing "I hope you're good!" The line falls completely flat. She then comments after his closing "I thought you would be better!" Again the line rings hollow as if it is played knowingly for laughs. This kind of unsubtle acting is simply out of style with the rest of the cast. I keep hoping her character will be written out, as she is the only negative in an almost perfect show, but no! She now quite unconvincingly evicts a young associate from his office and is pushing a tea trolley around!
That said "Boston Legal" is an addictive show. One episode is never quite enough! Everyone involved in the show should feel blessed to be working on something truly special and original. This series will soon be regarded as the classic it most certainly is.