10 January 2005 | tghoneyc
A hilarious and unlikely spin-off
I admit I didn't watch "The Practice" as a regular show, but I saw enough to see that it was a dark, clever series examining the everyday work of a small Boston firm who primarily defended criminals. "Boston Legal" is a much different show. Centered around a civil and corporate firm that only occasionally deals in criminal cases. The place is a circus, it's David E. Kelley's hybrid of "The Practice" and "Ally McBeal," although the latter included hallucinations and bizarre love lifes.
Emmy-winner James Spader, the ever shameless and subtly self-destructive Alan Shore is the slimy playboy who, like it or not, is a fantastic attorney. Denny Crane (fellow Emmy-winner William Shatner) seems like the perfect match for Shore's unpredictable fashion. Both men are unorthodox, and Denny is slipping. He's also a great attorney, but he doesn't know it half the time. The two are the perfect team, each willing to forgive the other for their shortcomings in the area of law, and cover each other as such. Paul Lewiston (Rene Aberjonois) is the figurehead of everything they are not. He is respectable, by-the-book, and without conscience. The embodiment of the sleazy corporate attorney, and more concerned with keeping a client than with admitting a falacy on their part. Brad Chase (Mark Valley) is in the same boat insofar as playing by the rules, but he's Denny's man, and it pisses him off that Alan gets all the attention for his crimes. Laurie Colson (Monica Potter) is the idealistic attorney who has dabbled in Alan Shore's method of practicing law with disastrous consequences. Tara Wilson (Rhona Mitra) is finally sleeping with Alan, and happily playing along in his little game. And Sally Heep (Lake Bell) has all but disappeared since she broke up with Alan, so that she is little more than an errand boy (girl).
And most recently Candice Bergen has joined the cast at Crane, Poole, and Schmidt, as Shirley Schmidt (Edwin Poole has gone off the deep end after showing up at work, having only dressed the top half of his body.) and she appears to be Alan Shore in reverse. She's manipulative, wisecracking, and short with answers, but she seems to appeal to the ethical way of practicing law. Now back from New York and busting balls due to a law suit filed by one of their employees, she seems a welcome edition to the show.
Perfect follow-up to "Desperate Housewives," and just as funny. It's proof that David E. Kelley still has a few tricks up his sleeve.