25 October 2008 | bradgad
You Should Watch this Show
I think you should watch this show.
It's delightfully weird.
Totally unrealistic, it has just enough I-don't-know-what to enable the all important willing suspension, and once you got that, you're golden.
Here's the little stuff, the stuff that you'll enjoy but don't need to go out of your way for:
1) It has Candice Bergen! Bergen fulfills her role (uber-classy uber-MILF) perfectly. (Plus, she's Candice Bergen. To this date, no one does Bergen as well as Bergen.)
2) Clemenson/Espenson is likable and offbeat. One of the best "spice" characters since, oh, I dunno, Hill Street Blues.
3) Sometimes John Larroquette shows up, and he's so tall! He doesn't have to actually say anything funny. He's John Larroquette. It's a grin just for him to show up. (That sounds dismissive and snarky, but it's not meant to be. I honestly believe this is Larroquette's great comic gift: he shows up. That's all he needs to do. That's what he does. It doesn't matter what he says, because all the humor is in the wry, sardonic (and tall) presence. On Night Court, he had some funny lines, but that was actually a distraction. Remember The West Wing and The Practice... he had no funny lines there, but the effect was the same: Larroquette's wry, sardonic (and tall) presence = a grin. (Although, to be fair, in The Practice he did actually play a character in addition to showing up.))
4) It has William Shatner!
And here's the big stuff, the stuff you'll never experience if you don't go out of your way to watch a few episodes:
1) It has William Shatner! Star Trek gave us William Shatner giving us Captain James T. Kirk. Boston Legal gives us William Shatner giving us William Shatner (as Denny Crane)... the intelligent goof we always suspected was playing Captain Kirk. Even if you weren't a Trekkie, it's such a cool feeling to feel like you're getting to hang out with the *real* Captain Kirk, the (intelligent, goofy) man behind the myth.
2) Despite -- or rather, alongside -- the show's unabashed unrealistic stance, it takes an honest stab at depicting honest emotions, especially (but not only) in the traditional closing scene, where Spader/Shore and Shatner/Crane share a Scotch, a cigar, a presumably rather nippy Boston evening, and a friendship.
3) It has James Spader! Who? James Spader! Who's Jame's Spader? I don't know, I never heard of him before I saw this show, but he's incredible. His character (Alan Shore) brings something unlike anything I've ever seen on television... a character that is, I think, truly Shakesperean in its immediacy and otherness.
In fact, I believe this is the secret ingredient of Boston Legal's success. Spader's Shore has a Shakesperean otherness, and once we accept this otherness (as we are compelled to do), it doesn't matter how unrealistic (or compressed or reductive) the rest of the show is. Once we (the audience) have signed up for this otherness, once the writers have that signature on the dotted line, they're free play around and cut corners as they like. Thankfully, they often (though not always) do so to good effect.