My Top Ten Favorite Elements of Boston Legal
# 10 - The Downsizing When Boston Legal started it was cluttered with a bevy of lawyers, clerks and other assorted office help. Every episode looked like The West Wing. But by this final 5th season they got it right. Six key individuals, actually 3 pairs; Denny and Alan, Shirley and Carl, Jerry and Katie. This allowed the writers to develop and bring to a neat conclusion the personal stories of each principle and even more to the point, hone these three relationships so that by the end we cared for each one.
# 9 - The Judges
Sometimes they were just as crazy as the lawyers and defendants. After all this is a David E. Kelley trademark. Henry Gibson was my particular favorite and I'm glad he appeared in so many episodes. # 8 -The Issues
Usually slanted toward the hard Left, we were nevertheless informed about the hard hitting problems of our day. When was the first time you were really made aware of the sub-prime lending fiasco? For me it was last year when Clarence's home was foreclosed on Boston Legal. Then we had abortion euthanasia, capital punishment and a hundred other serious as well as bizarre issues. # 7 - Quirky characters
Bernard was my personal favorite (played to perfection by Leslie Jordan) but there was also that nut job Lincoln (David Dean Bottrell) who kidnapped Shirley and serenaded her with his ukulele (that Chipmunk Christmas tune as I recall) as a harpoon gun was aimed at her. Melvin Palmer (Christopher Rich) was a nice foil for Alan (You're a hoot, that's what you are) and Clarence/Clarice was simply delightful as well. So many more could be mentioned. # 6 - John Larroquette
There were so many over-the-top actors on this show they needed someone kind of serious for balance. Enter John Larroquette, the bombastic lawyer from Night Court. But in Boston John played Carl Sack, not Dan Fielding. And much to my surprise it paid off. Carl even ended up wedded to Shirley Schmidt which was just lovely.
# 5 - Breaking the 4th wall and insider humor
Numerous references to their own show were scattered throughout the series but especially in the last couple of episodes. They even devoted a third of the show a couple weeks ago to berating the networks for not providing better programming for viewers over 50 years of age. That particular episode showcased Betty White and John Larroquette. There is now a gaping hole that hundreds of hours of inane fare targeted toward youth cannot fill. # 4 - Redemption and growth of Jerry Espenson
A couple seasons ago, the Aspergers inflicted oddball threatened to slit the throat of Shirley Schmidt with her own birthday cake knife. This season he was named a senior partner in the firm of Crane, Poole and Schmidt. Jerry was portrayed by the talented Christian Clemenson who won an Emmy in 2006 as a guest actor. Clemenson was then added to the cast as a regular. One of my favorite 'Jerry' moments came when he sang the opening theme song in his own inimitable way. Some of the most poignant scenes not related to Denny's Mad Cow disease (his euphemism for Alzheimer's) belonged to Jerry as he discussed his struggle to fit into society. # 3 - Alan Shore's Summations
An episode was never really complete until we heard Alan (James Spader) enthusiastically pontificate before judge or jury on behalf of his client. As much as Spader deserves credit for these, the writers are worthy of acclaim as Emmys could easily have been awarded each season based on these scenes alone. My favorite was when Alan defended Shirley's plea to mercifully increase the pain medication for her father in "The Mighty Rogues,' a moment that is captured in AprilFox's review of the episode and an episode I have yet to delete from my dvr archives.
# 2 - The balcony scenes
At times these were the only scenes worth watching. The balcony overlooking Boston was a haven, a sanctuary where Denny and Alan could reflect upon their day, their lives and their friendship. With a big stogie in one hand and a tumbler of scotch in the other, these men explored their vulnerabilities, their dreams and their failings as men. Which naturally leads us right into.......
# 1 - The relationship between Denny and Alan
These two overtly heterosexual men loved each other deeply. They shared their innermost secrets, fears and passions; nothing was off-limits. They helped one another through a number of personal crisis. They differed on some key political views but they never allowed those differences to come between them. In the end they always remained better than friends, better than brothers, better than lovers. On the final episode they were actually married by Supreme Court Justice Scalia in a real "jump the shark" moment which they referred to themselves (see # 6 above). I don't know if there is another bonding between two men in the history of televison, gay or straight, that runs this deep, this powerful. I know I don't have that kind of a person in my life. I know of few that can testify that they do.