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Review Boston Legal: Season 2, Episode 2 - Schadenfreude

Apparently, the title I have chosen for this review is the closest thing we have in the English language to the German word 'schadenfreude', as you all already know, meaning 'taking pleasure in someone else's misfortune'. I prefer the German as a sort of loan word into the English language; even Denny's butchering of the word (shutterbug?!) is far superior to this unnecessarily long e-word that traces its roots back to Greek and apparently means the same thing as schadenfreude, even though you may not find it in many dictionaries. Whatever word you want to use to describe it, you can't ignore it, and we've certainly all been guilty of it at one point or another. Alan played on that universality of the feeling - even went as far as to suggest it is a biological, physiological fact of the human brain, not merely an ugly unexplainable facet of the way the human mind works. And he was right in his assertion that the only way anyone could convict Kelly Nolan of the murder of her husband was through a sick happiness they would draw from it. People want murders to be solved, the criminals to be apprehended and punished for their evil deeds. But things don't work out that way, all cut and dry, prepackaged and ready to go. Is it possible that Kelly was in fact guilty? Certainly. That isn't what counts though. It is absolutely possible that she is innocent, and so Alan argued that it would be flat-out wrong to find her guilty. Throughout Kelly Nolan's appearance on the show, she has been defined not through what she has done, said, or felt, but rather a lack of all three, especially the last. Instead of witty dialog, as is usual between the litigators of Crane, Poole, and Schmidt, it is rather her almost calculated reservedness and reticence, and a detached demeanor that has cast doubt on her innocence from the the moment she walked into the firm's offices. She is a powerful character not because she cries on the stand at the loss of a loved one; but because she seems to feel nothing at all. This sets off the media blitz that dubbed her 'The Black Widow', and subsequently worries her representation, namely Brad, whose straightforward nature leads him to believe that unless she starts to act like a woman who has lost her husband, she's going to start acting like a woman who picks up garbage on the highway in an orange jumpsuit. To Read More Click Here If You Missed This Episode Watch It Here Online Now

Review Boston Legal: Season 2, Episode 1 - The Black Widow

Before I get into the meat of this review, I want to start out by extending my gratitude to one of the kindest and most dedicated fans of Boston Legal I could have ever hope to meet - Dana. Thank you so much for putting together everything you do over at boston-legal.org and thank you for tracking me down and giving me a place to post my reviews of Boston Legal, including my old reviews of S1 and these new ones for S2. I feel lucky to be a part of this and am glad that someone has been reading. ;) Also, some more housekeeping before moving on to the review of the S2 premiere, 'The Black Widow'; I've already touched on this with Dana in the podcast for this episode (download it at boston-legal.org), but in case you haven't listened to that, a big congratulations out to James Spader for winning his Emmy for Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his role as Alan Shore on Boston Legal and to William Shatner for winning his for Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his role as Denny Crane. That's a repeat win for both of them; James Spader won last year for the same role on The Practice and William Shatner won for Guest Actor in a Drama Series, also on The Practice. Maybe this kind of recognition will help boost the ratings...I can only hope. ((OK. Sorry about that. Here we go! Forgive me if this review is a bit rough around the edges; I've been out of practice for a while. So bear with me; thanks for reading!)) They opened up this episode with a crash course on the history of the show, covering most major (and some minor - was Bernie's story really important enough?) storylines from S1 to set up this season. A nice refresher course for those who did watch the show on Sundays last season, and an introduction to the show for those who did not. To Read More Click Here If You Missed This Episode Watch It Here Online Now

Review Boston Legal: Season 1, Episode 17 - Death Be Not Proud

Probably the strongest episode of the series, dramatically speaking. Of the few episodes of The Practice that I did see prior to the introduction of Alan Shore in Season 8, this rang true as an episode that could have come from that series, with a classic Boston Legal tongue-in-cheek subplot to undercut the seriousness of the main plot, which was nothing short of phenomenal. Alan is so effective in this role - because for once, he isn't sardonic or smug. He's passionate about a case that he truly believes in, and he doesn't have the upper hand - he's fighting an arduous uphill battle that he knows he probably can't win. But he fought anyway. For Chelina, for Zeke - for his own personal beliefs. That's admirable whether or not you're morally upstanding. I'm not going to comment on whether the death penalty is virtuous or a monstrous institution, and I'm not even going to touch the fact that Texas is responsible for so many of our nation's state-inflicted capital punishments. David E. Kelley did plenty of that for the both of us. Instead, I'd like to examine the people that make up this show - it's the characters that carry us through the story, case by case. That's why I watch the show in the first place, and that's why I stick around. I'll tell you, plain and simple, right now - Alan Shore is THE most interesting, involving, sarcastic, and yet at the same time utterly serious character on television. Period. I just couldn't help but watch in awe as he delivered his final speech to the Texan justices, scrambling to find some way to stay Zeke's execution, any way he could. He likes that people such as Chelina would turn to him for help in this insurmountable situation, and he hates that sometimes, he fails. But that's what makes him more real than the (pleasantly) one-dimensional Denny. To Read More Click Here If You Missed This Episode Watch It Here Online Now

Review Boston Legal: Season 1, Episode 12 - From Whence We Came

A few nights ago, January 16th 2005, Boston Legal went up against the 62nd Annual Golden Globe Awards - a daunting task. While James Spader was bested by Deadwood's Ian McShane, William Shatner took honors in the BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION category for his role of Denny Crane on the series. Congratulations to him! I don't really have a good way to shift gears into my review, but I figured that was worth mentioning. Anyways, this latest installment of Boston Legal was equal parts farewell episode, dark comedy, and socially meaningful legal drama - the story of creationism vs. evolution isn't an old one in our court systems or our television sets (or even the David E. Kelley universe, I'm told) but that doesn't mean it isn't worth revisiting, especially under different circumstances. As Shirley Schmidt (or just 'Schmidt' as she's telling most people to call her) acclimates herself to life in the crazy world that is the Boston office of Crane, Poole, and Schmidt, Nora discovers the lewd game that is working for Alan Shore; Bernard Ferrion returns as the serial tiny serial killer whose only crime was to desperately want to be noticed; and Betty White, reprising her role from The Practice (Catherine Piper) was more of a cameo appearance than a guest spot. Hopefully there will be more from her in the future besides skeeving Alan out by applying for the now vacant assistant's position. To Read More Click Here If You Missed This Episode Watch It Here Online Now

Review Boston Legal: Season 1, Episode 8 - Loose Lips

I'd like to start off this review by extending a warm welcome to my co-reviewer, TeaCake911 - I was delighted when he filled in with a review for the Halloween episode which I missed and I'm glad to see that he'll be a regular reviewer of the show. Since I prefer to focus on plot analysis and how the action and the story affect the characters, he'll take on the role of analyzing character development, and I'll keep on going with my normal reviewing. So back to the matter at hand. In what was easily the best episode of the series thus far, every single character (save for Sally) was at the top of their game. Nobody was boring, and nobody was overused; nobody came off as too one-dimensional and the balance between drama and comedy as well as between characters was just right. Even the fact that this was a themed episode (and traditionally I have a thing against themed episodes) couldn't take away from the fact that by the end of the episode, I was really looking forward to what is going to happen next week - not just to see what Alan Shore will say next. To Read More Click Here If You Missed This Episode Watch It Here Online Now

Boston Legal Season 1, Episode 6: 'Truth Be Told' - Review

I'd like to start off with an apology for not posting a review for last weeks episode (1.05 'An Eye For An Eye'). I even had a clever name for the review before I even saw the episode, but the age old VCR problems have plagued me for this last week. I had similar problems when taping the other show I review, Lost; unfortunately, ABC does not air reruns of Boston Legal, at least not yet. Once I see the episode I'll be sure to post a (late) review for it. Anyways, I'm finally feeling optimistic about this show again, like I was during it's early development stages and all summer long as I saw promos for it. There is something of a character balance and rotation - Tara has reappeared, and Brad was shifted away from the focus. I know that he'll be back, though, and with 16 episodes still to go in the season, I'm more than positive that by the end of Season 1 everything will be in order. Sometimes, it takes time for a new show to find it's feet, and I'm more than willing to give the show as much time as it needs, because it has the potential to be an amazing law show whose characters are more important than the plotlines, a flaw that has been epitomized by law shows in past years. I think something that the creative team behind Boston Legal have realized is that the idea that the entire show and firm would focus on the "high priced world of civil law" is limiting the show's concept and ultimately taking away from what it could be; this episode, however, proved that they've found a balance, as episodes like 'Change of Course' focused more on the criminal aspect of things (something that I criticized) and episodes like this one honed on on moral and civil issued which, when crafted and written carefully, can be just as human and pensive as any criminal case. The two stories told tonight were a testament to that fact. To Read More Click Here If You Missed This Episode Watch It Here Online Now

Boston Legal Season 1, Episode 4: 'Change of Course' - Review

In spite of a somewhat successful melding of the two contrasting aspects of this show, I was unsettled by the fact that the "high priced world of civil law" that was so highly touted during promotion has been pushed aside for two criminal cases; if you want this show to assume it's own personality, away from The Practice, then you cannot rely on the plotlines that are prevalent in criminal law. A criminal case here and there is unavoidable, perhaps even preferable; but here it was overkill. And while the characters seem to grow in baby steps, leaps and bounds, or not at all, I'm still enjoying tuning in every week. Alan may not be the shining beacon of hope for the law show he was on The Practice, but at least he's still the poster child for questionable ethics. The fact that everybody in the firm knows it, including the insufferable and office-less Lewiston, only makes it that much more enjoyable. I was even able to look past the terrible mismatch that is Alan and Sally, because I truly believe the quiet conclusion means that they're finally done. And although he remains, generally speaking, largely inactive in the courtroom, he's still the most fun to watch. I can only hope he'll get even more interesting now that he's cast Sally aside. (Or did she cast him aside? Is that distinction irrelevant?) I still think Sally is a waste of screen time; that's not to say that she isn't an integral character, or that she's entirely useless - I simply believe they are spending too much time on her. Perhaps the title of this episode has more than one meaning - I certainly hope that the 'change of course' involves a shift away from Sally and more towards Tara, who is still absent. And the fact that she is missing is felt; there is a definite hole in Crane, Poole, & Schmidt. And for now, Sally does not succeed in filling it. To Read More Click Here If You Missed This Episode Watch It Here Online Now

Boston Legal Season 1, Episode 3: 'Catch and Release' - Review

It's a longstanding, preconceived notion that lawyers, as well as politicians, are the scum of the earth. A necessary evil. Deceptive, duplicitous, dishonest and every other 'd' word that means the same thing. Well, I'm not even going to try and rebut that, because the lawyers at Crane, Poole, & Schmidt seem content to perpetuate the stereotype. And that works for them...somehow. When your main character's personal relationship with a co-worker is your main plotline, you have a problem, especially if the dynamic of the couple is just plain off. Sally is making Alan look, well, bad, and her only saving grace was pulling a rabbit out of her skirt (instead of her hat) with a technique Alan suggested. Even if the rabbit wasn't of the hooker variety this week. I was glad to see Alan drop the patronizing attitude he had developed towards Christine and finally draw the line somewhere, both in his initial defiance of her being opposing counsel and then later making much of his litigation applicable both to the case at hand and his current situation with his ex-lover/ex-attempted murderer. Denny took the spotlight in this episode, which wouldn't have been a problem whatsoever if everything he did wasn't entirely involved with the superfluous appearance of his supposed son, whose actual link to Denny was actually proven wrong at the end of the episode, conveniently ending the story and allowing them to move on without further development of the 'father' layer for Denny. All he did in a courtroom was sit in the back and root for both sides, while Brad's drivel continued and "Donny Crane" made the obligatory self announcement even more trivial than it was before. Sorry, but Bill Shatner is the only one who can pull that off, and even then, I'd enjoy it more if it was used sparingly. Hell, even Sally got in on the action by the end of the episode, and what was once a character-specific quirk is now a firm-wide joke. Unfortunately, it's lost it's meaning. To Read More Click Here If You Missed This Episode Watch It Here Online Now

Boston Legal Season 1, Episode 2: 'Still Crazy After All These Years' - Review

The problem with measuring sanity is that, you can't really do it for yourself. Someone else has to tell you you're not right in the head or you probably won't believe it, and even then it's more than normal for people not to trust others. It's a riddle, but it's part of life, even the quirky lives of the lawyers at Crane, Poole, & Schmidt. Alan's uneven relationship with Sally continues to bother me. They just don't seem to belong together, no matter how much she thinks so. There are more sparks between Alan and Lori, and they've had maybe three scenes together the entire series. Brad seems to be filling the 'appreciative and admiring' son figure that is usually occupied by Alan, (only Brad does it with a tad less cynicism), and it's a justified move since Alan and Brad seem to balance each other out. He didn't really have anything to do in the courtroom, but he was superb, as always, in front of the committee at the loony bin. He plays the English language like a musician plays his instrument, brilliantly setting up Christine's stockpile of unused medication, and freeing her from the "hospital". Unfortunately for him this would set into motion a chain of circumstances that can only end badly; something mirrored in Denny's alienation from the rest of the firm, especially others in positions of power within it. Denny may not be the same awe-inspiring figure he used to be, but he still knows what the hell he's doing when it comes to the law, and manipulating others, two skills that tend to go hand in hand. His former friend and partner tried to set him up (something that astounds Lori, who was the first to pick up on the plot), but Denny wrapped up his confidence in his trademark arrogance, winning the trial and thwarting the efforts to have him removed. Despite Brad's confession of a deep love for Denny, which I'll get to later, he remains the authority figure who demands respect, not just because he's a figurehead but because he commands it. Even though he was obviously badgering the widow at the deposition, he was able to conceal it as a legitimate line of questioning while making the opposing counsel seem like the fool, something I doubted he could do. But only for a second. To Read More Click Here If You Missed This Episode Watch It Here Online Now

Boston Legal Season 1, Episode 1: 'Head Cases' - Review

First off, I'd like to start with an honest statement - I was not an avid fan of The Practice, watching it only occasionally for its fantastic writing and formidable cast. But it was always too serious for me; too dramatic. I understand that was the nature of the show, and I can still appreciate it. That said, I fell in love with the new characters introduced in the final season - and I'll be the first to admit that The Practice ended with Season 7's finale. Then the show became Alan Shore's. If you were looking for a continuation of The Practice you've come to the wrong place. OK, I'll start now. I just needed that to be said. In an overexerted effort to distance itself from The Practice, Boston Legal employs deliriously fast camerawork, even faster delivery of lines, uptempo music and practically hyperactive characters. In some situtations it works; in others it can be harsh, or overly humorous. Depending on your personal inclinations, you may or may not like certain aspects of the new show's tone and mood. Hopefully, the crew will dial it down a bit to an acceptable level or I might have to concede and watch this show in slow motion just to make sure I don't miss any dialogue. James Spader as Alan Shore, while still lovably unethical, is not featured as prominently as he was in the final season of The Practice, and, while he is still the undeniable center of the story, it allows for the supporting cast to come into their own and to find their niche in the plot. It would be easy to call his character 'different...not like he used to be.' But you have to examine his environment. Around Eugene Young and Ellenor Frutt, Alan Shore is a much different man, comparatively speaking. In a law firm where everyone is just as nutty, if not nuttier, than he is, he seems almost sane. (Did I just say that?) To Read More Click Here If You Missed This Episode Watch It Here Online Now