Posts Tagged ‘Boston Legal’

DVD review: ‘Boston Legal’ Season Five arrives with extra half-episode

May 27, 2009

Denny and Alan, how we’ll miss you. But we’ll always have Boston Legal on DVD, where its fifth and final season is now new from Fox.

Unlike previous seasons, this one boasts a number of extras, including fond farewells to the show itself and to the trailblazing “bromance” of stars William Shatner (Denny Crane) and James Spader (Alan Shore). Laced among choice clips are interview sound bites with Shatner, Spader, creator David E. Kelly and others who worked behind the scenes.

Happily, these aren’t the usual fawning gush-fest which mars so many making-of featurettes on movies’ DVDs. Sure, there’s lot of praise, but there are also insights, including an assessment of how Spader’s by-the-book acting approached clashed with Shatner’s improvisational impudence, yet somehow worked.

Along with a segment of deleted scenes, there’s virtually half of a deleted episode, in which Denny’s long-lost daughter whom he’d somehow never met was introduced.

Granted, this is one of TV and movies’ biggest cliches, but the scenes worked well enough for Shatner and Spader. They just didn’t work so well from the standpoint of the daughter, played by Kimberly Williams- Paisley. Her story simply lacked enough depth for such an important character, the creators point out, so the footage was ditched and replaced (with fleshing out the case of a prospective Harvard student who took medication to be alert for a test).

Well, whose fault was that? The problem is, the daughter comes across like so many other women on this show which preached strongly for liberal causes but was itself guilty of retro objectifyng of women dating back to the Stone Age.

Like so many others on this show, she’s gorgeous, confrontational, eager to engage in sexual wordplay, randy and ready to rock — which is a bit unsettling for Denny when she goes out with Alan, who’s naturally attracted to her. But overall it’s still fun footage, and with just 13 episodes in Season Five, it’s nice to get 13 1/2, in effect — make that 14, given the 20 minutes or so of deleted scenes also included.

This season and this set ably bring to a close one of TV’s finest runs of any era, and one I will cherish on DVD for years to come. Thank you David, Bill, James and everyone else who made Boston Legal a true treasure. You went out not with a whimper, but on top of your game.

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DVD review: ‘Star Trek: Season 3 Remastered’ shows where ‘Boston Legal’ bent began

November 18, 2008

And so, Paramount’s splendid refitting of Classic Trek comes to a close with this week’s release of Star Trek: The Original Series — Season 3 Remastered from Paramount. Again, the new effects and enhanced picture and sound are a fan’s dream, provided you’re not the kind of purist who balked at similar spiffing up of Star Trek: The Motion Picture or the original Star Wars trilogy.

Me? I love progress, and if you can improve a show without losing its basic integrity, I’m there. Bottom line: If they’d had the resources to produce this level of effects when making this show in the 1960s, they’d have loved to do so. Now Paramount can — and it does a fantastic job. ‘Nuff said.

Sure, Trek‘s third and final original season was nowhere near as good as the first two, but it still had some worthy winners, including the going-native-while-an-asteroid-looms love story of The Paradise Syndrome. (I’m a sucker for idyllic-looking shore leave shows — and that asteroiod gets a great makeover.) The DVD extras here also are welcome, from the original pilot version of The Cage to a tribute to Trek producer Bob Justman, a man I’ve admired dating back to his pre-Trek time on The Outer Limits.

In fact, there are so many elements of The Outer Limits in Star Trek that you almost could argue the first spawned the second, from Trek‘s direct steal of its Arena episode (which makes a cameo in Tropic Thunder, BTW) via OL‘s Fun and Games episode to the fact that some big Trek actors appeared first on the sci-fi anthology show (William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, James Doohan, etc.). And Harlan Ellison, author of Trek‘s beloved City on the Edge of Forever episode, first wrote two of the best Outer Limits episodes in Soldier and Demon With a Glass Hand.

But back to The Paradise Syndrome. In it, as in so many Classic Trek episodes, we see the seeds of Shatner’s late-career renaissance. No, we’re not talking his amusingly in-your-face guy on TV commercials, but Shatner’s Denny Crane on Boston Legal, a role which won him an Emmy, which Kirk never did. In short, in Kirk we see a man who, like Denny Crane these days, can’t keep his hands off women — even when he’s in a mind-zapped daze (The Paradise Syndrome) or suffering from “mad cow” (Boston Legal).

Are James Kirk and Denny Crane truly cut from the same cloth? To answer one rhetorical question with another, in an astronomical context: Is there a constant far side (as opposed to “dark side”) of the moon? Yes and yes, of course.

Each character is an alpha male who’s king of his castle, whether it’s a spaceship or a law firm. Each is drawn to women like a meteoroid pulled into a giant planet’s gravitational hold. And each gives good speeches, whether it’s Kirk’s moralistic rallying-the-troops sermonettes or Crane’s sly, shrewd strategies offered to BFF Alan Shore (James Spader) in their balcony chats.

And there, of course, lies the biggest link between Kirk and Crane: Both celebrate male-bonding to the Nth degree. Kirk had Spock, and to a slightly lesser extent McCoy. And Crane has Shore. And those relationships are the thread, the theme, the backbone and the heart of their respective series.

Classic Trek never would have been classic without the intense brotherhood of Kirk, Spock and McCoy, and Boston Legal is basically a platonic love story about political opposites but similarly rebellious legal eagles who end each episode with a drink, a cigar, a heart-to-heart talk and another declaration of their “bromance” love.

I ask you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury: Kirk and Crane — separated at birth? Again, it’s a rhetorical question.

In fact, I rest my case.

‘Boston Legal: Season Four’ has an episode supreme

September 22, 2008

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.