Thursday, 10 January 2008

Boston Legal

Although the second DVD boxset of Boston Legal lacks the verve and sheer freshness of the 1st season, the eccentric-lawyers partnership of Denny Crane and Alan Shore (a brilliant double-act by William Shatner and James Spader) continues to appeal, with much savagely absurdist humour (including the postmodern use of in-jokes, usually aimed star-wards), crazily unrestrained courtroom antics, and incisively constructed speeches (thinly veiled social and political commentary on various burning issues and current affairs of today). Although this season sees the exit of supporting actress Rhona Mitra (as Tara), replacement starlet Julie Bowen (as Denise) is instantly likeable, even though she's challenged by the late arrival of Parker Posey (as Marlene).

If the lively arrogant banter of Crane and Shore now becomes rather subdued in those end-of-day balcony-scene codas, the script-writers maintain Shore's unique propensity for acid-tongued yet often deeply compassionate trial closures, while Crane ('Denny Crane'), still gets plenty of great, pithy comedy lines for before, during, and after his brief marriage to Bev (Joanna Cassidy). Other guest stars include Tom Selleck (rather smug and irritating) and Michael J. Fox (too obviously sympathetic).

Perhaps the biggest surprise this season is that Brad (Mark Valley) is promoted to full partner in the company, and the actor manages to leave behind his wooden charm, becoming a major asset to the main cast, especially in his dramatic if not always his comedy scenes. The best and cleverest moment is when Wes Craven is called to testify as an expert witness about a porn video! Needless to say, I have ordered the season 3 boxset. If you like a bit of honest drama with your TV comedy, this show has excellent production values, and is quietly superior to every other law-firm series I've yet seen... although I wonder how it compares to James Woods' vehicle Shark?


Trudi Topham said...

Oh, Tony! Are you suggesting that Boston Legal is possibly better than Season one of Murder One? :o

Tony Lee said...

Yes, certainly, Troo! I never much liked the idea of Murder 1, anyway... just average courtroom drama, unlike BL - which mixes genuinely hilarious farce into serious legal issue-of-the-week plots.