‘Boston Legal: Season Four’ has an episode supreme

As Boston Legal fans await tonight’s fifth season premiere, due Tuesday is the DVD box set for Boston Legal: Season Four. And given one episode in particular, it’s not just another season.

Rather, it’s the season with The Court Supreme, an episode in which Alan Shore (James Spader) argues before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of a man in Louisiana who faces the death penalty.

Appearing near the end of the episode, this sustained scene is Spader/Shore at his best. It’s not wholly credible, especially given the fact that Shore tears into the justices while they largely sit in stony silence and allow it. But it is immensely satisfying, and not just for his impassioned defense of his client, but for his tangential attacks on the smug, imperious court’s politicization, its conflicts of interest and its other improprieties which mar the name of a long-revered institution.

The remainder of the season is good, too, but this one show is special. (And we’re still awaiting word on how that high court case turned out.) Again, Alan and Denny Crane’s (William Shatner’s) relationship is at the heart. In effect, it’s their male bonding that propels this series much as the Kirk-Spock-McCoy bonding propelled Shatner’s Star Trek.

As for extras, the DVDs include a featurette on the cast’s newcomers. Only trouble is, it appears to have been produced for the start of the season, to introduce characters, and not as an end-season wrapup. Some characters turn out not to be nearly as integral to the show as the featurette suggests.

But hey, that’s a quibble. The bigger picture is to embrace David E. Kelley’s timely, topical, thoughtful, well acted and, well, sometimes silly series as the grand entertainment it is, especially now that its run is winding down. So savor Boston Legal: Season Four. When this show concludes after its fifth season, we’re unlikely to see another of its caliber.

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