Legal dramas on television have always found a way with the audience. Some take The Good Wife route of incorporating real-life incidents into their drama, while others take the ‘Suits’ route of unbelievable backstories and combine them with over-dramatic dialogue, but most of them find their feet and more importantly a fan base. A spin-off of The Practice, Boston Legal, created by David E Kelley, found its feet too, but in ways that none of its predecessors had.
Boston Legal was far removed from reality with its politically incorrect but self-aware dialogue and dramatic legal practices. However, when it came to 40 minutes of joyous entertainment, the legal drama delivered every time. Starring James Spader and William Shatner in the lead roles, Boston Legal felt more like it was written for these two. It gave Spader a chance to shine with quippy dialogue and Shatner offered just the perfect support.
What works for Boston Legal?
Boston Legal is a legal drama that proceeds in an episodic story arc as well as a larger story arc. What truly works for this show is its snappy dialogue that is funny but also takes a strong political stand, on many occasions. That, combined with the handheld camera, give a bit of The Office-ish vibe that enhances the show’s humour quotient and highlights the intention of the scene, even during dramatic encounters.
James Spader’s Alan Shore was truly the backbone of the show. He is introduced as a morally strong lawyer who could take the occasional unethical route if it worked for the greater good. The character could seem frivolous at times, but his light and breezy exterior was blended with his strong sense of justice which made him an interesting and unique specimen on television. His courtroom monologues often became the centrepiece of the show and are totally worth revisiting independently, till date.
Shore’s bromance with Shatner’s Denny Crane formed the central relationship of the show. Despite their strong ideological differences, the characters were a delight to watch whenever they shared screen space.
Another relationship that stood out in the show was the one shared between Alan Shore and Christian Clemenson’s Jerry Espenson. Espenson was shown to have Asperger’s Syndrome and the bond that was eventually formed between the two was heartening.
Cancelled too soon?
Boston Legal had a great run for the five seasons that it lasted. The show fetched great ratings, was quite a favourite at awards and so it seemed strange when ABC decided to pull the plug soon after the fourth season ended. The fifth season got a shorter order of episodes which was quite unfortunate. This was followed by the show getting cancelled by the network.
Boston Legal had a fabulous star cast that seemed to get better with every season. Apart from James Spader and William Shatner, the show starred Candice Bergen, Mark Valley, Julie Bowen and Taraji P. Henson among others. Through its run of five seasons, the show was nominated for 26 Emmy Awards. Spader, Shatner and Clemenson all won Emmys for their performance on the show.
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Boston Legal is streaming on Hotstar.