Boston Legal - Season One
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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.
The classic combination of James Spader and William Shatner is just one of many reasons to savor the inaugural 17-episode season of Boston Legal. Making its highly rated ABC debut on October 3, 2004, this darkly comedic spinoff from The Practice looked like a formulaic reworking of creator David E. Kelley's previously successful series Ally McBeal, with similar plots and quirky characters enmeshed in personal and professional affairs of the heart at the prestigious Boston law firm of Crane, Poole & Schmidt. It quickly became apparent that Kelley, co-executive producer Bill D'Elia, and the show's magnificent ensemble cast were onto something equally fresh, funny, and infectiously entertaining.
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While senior partner Paul Lewiston (Rene Auberjonois), senior associate and ex-Marine Brad Chase (Mark Valley), and junior associate Lori Colson (Monica Potter) struggle to maintain the firm's lofty reputation, the appearance of founding partner Shirley Schmidt (Candice Bergen) elevates Boston Legal to an even higher plane of serio-comic perfection. A former flame of Denny Crane's, Schmidt arrives in episode 11 (appropriately titled "Schmidt Happens") as common-sense negotiator with a rapier wit and a clanking pair of big brass cojones, fully capable of holding her own against the Crane/Shore juggernaut. And while "An Eye for an Eye" (episode 5) is a sublime example of Boston Legal's deft combination of lunacy and courtroom complexity, it's the deeper implications of episodes like "Tortured Souls" (15) and season finale "Death Be Not Proud" (tackling a dubious death sentence in Texas) that cast these rich and wonderful characters into sharper relief, baring their souls and the courage of their convictions.
With surprising departures (Lake Bell, in episode 13), new arrivals (Kerry Washington, as new associate Chelina Hall, in episode 15) and stellar guest stars including Larry Miller (as the eccentrically unstable founding partner Edwin Poole), Philip Baker Hall, Frances Fisher, Carl Reiner, Freddie Prinze Jr., Shelley Long, and late-season regular Betty White, Boston Legal gained a large and loyal following with exceptional writing, timely social relevance, and that rare quality of chemistry that guarantees long-term appeal. Nowhere is this more apparent than the now-famous Spader/Shatner "balcony scenes" that quickly became an episode-closing tradition, with staunch Republican Denny Crane and passionate Democrat Alan Shore reflecting upon their careers, current issues, and their own devoted friendship over brandy and cigars. With these two actors together, virtually every episode ends on a high note of pensive introspection, and Boston Legal becomes even greater than the sum of its parts. DVD extras are minimal (two featurettes with cast and producers, plus deleted scenes from episode 1) but enjoyably worthwhile. --Jeff Shannon
- "Court Is Now In Session: How Boston Legal Came To Be" featurette
- "An Unlikely Pair: Alan Shore and Denny Crane" featurette
- Deleted scenes from pilot episode with introduction
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Props to Fox for packaging the show in a first-rate DVD season set which features immaculate picture and sound and cool extras. Most notably, the deleted scenes from the pilot which Kelley explains in the introduction as being too "Practice-like" i.e. serious. These aren't the usual abruptly short deleted scenes typical of TV DVDs but full "super-size" scenes that add more to the pilot episode they were cut from, not unlike the deleted scenes from NBC's The Office.
Boston Legal - Season One is a 5-disc (single-sided) set featuring all 17 episodes; Widescreen (1.78:1) video; Dolby Surround English audio; plus extras. Housed in slim cases, Disc One contains: Episodes 1-4; Disc Two: Episodes 5-8; Disc Three: Episodes 9-12; Disc Four: Episodes 13-16; Disc Five: Episode 17, plus Special Features: "Court is Now in Session - How Boston Legal Came To Be" featurette, "An Unlikely Pair - Alan Shore and Denny Crane" featurette, and Deleted Scenes from Pilot Episode.
Boston Legal - Season One (along with The Practice - Volume One)
Episode one immediately throws you into the story of "Crane, Poole, and Schmidt" and gives you very little exposition, focusing mainly on the stories of the cases and letting you figure out the character details on your own as the relationships play out through the caseloads of the lawyers. While this was initially frustrating, it nonetheless became highly entertaining.
Even if you've never seen the show before, I would highly recommend it. "Boston Legal" is like many David E. Kelly shows in that it shows off lush parties with music, political agendas (mostly "leftist"), and witty, back-and-forth, dialogue that is reminiscent of a funnier Aaron Sorkin.
In conclusion, I would highly recommend Season One as it is the genesis of one of the best shows on TV, has loads of great cameos (Freddie Prinze Jr., Elizabeth Mitchell (of "Lost" fame), and Larry Miller amongst others), and plenty of hilarious and poignant cases.
spader is actually endearing (rather than the brat he played in the '80's)
he and shatner work well together.. there's a great team of actors on this series and the writers keep it fresh