Monday, June 19, 2006

Grows Into a Gem

This review of the first season DVD of
Boston Legal has also been posted to

If you, like me, came to Boston Legal a little late in the game and started watching it during the 2005-2006 season, you'll definitely enjoy watching the show get rolling and seeing how it grew from a quirky little legal series into the engaging half-comedy, half drama it has become.

Some of the characters in the early episodes may grate--Lake Bell's character comes to mind--but by the time the partly-animated credits are gone (the fifth episode) the show is off and running. Things really hit their stride when Candice Bergen joins the cast in episode 11, "Schmidt Happens," as the (until then, a mystery) third named partner of the firm. Her witty interplay with William Shatner's Denny Crane and James Spader's Alan Shore is likely a big part of their Emmy success. So are the duo's sometimes tense, sometimes funny scenes with Rene Auberjonois, whose resolute Paul Lewiston grounds the show and the firm in reality.

But Shatner and Spader are the cornerstones of the show, and this abbreviated season (only 17 episodes--the rest were rolled into season two when Grey's Anatomy took off in the old Boston Legal timeslot) shows how the writers and producers became aware of their remarkable chemistry and learned to harness it. Those already familiar with the second season will watch with knowing glee as the show-ending conversation between the two becomes a standard.

Sadly, I can only give this collection four stars out of five because the early episodes are a bit weaker than the later ones, and because the end of the season (an episode about a death penalty case in Texas) is so abrupt. The latter is a forgiveable offense--the show's producers didnt know it would have to serve as a finale--but it still results in the set leaving a weird taste in your mouth when you finish watching.

Still, a good beginning for a great series.

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