We are back at the offices of Crane, Poole and Schmidt in the company of their litigation team. All of the main characters from the first series return along with a few others as the series goes on. Crucially, the fantastic grouping of Allan and Denny return with their evening balcony whisky and male-bonding chat.
The humour is consistently solid throughout the series with enough drama to make sure that you come back for more time and time again.
One can sometimes find that the second series of such a cult program can be a huge let-down as the writers have rushed it out and it comes nowhere near the first series. Fortunately, this has not happened with Boston Legal. The writing team has a huge amount of experience behind them - its is the same team that brought us Ally Macbeal - and the storylines are engaging and dramatic yet funny at the same time.
I cannot recommend buying this series enough. If you liked the randomness of Ally Macbeal with a little more of a political edge worked in, this is exactly the series for you. The moral compass of Allan will have you close to tears, as will the one-liners from Denny but for VERY different reasons. Buy it now!
For those with an ear for media they may have heard of the term Jumping the Shark. This is a phrase that describes when a TV show has gone from being good to awful. You have probably had the feeling yourself when watching one of your favourite shows and something ridiculous happens and you just switch it off never to watch it again. Where has the charm and intrigue gone that kept you hooked for so long? When I sat down to watch Boston Legal Season 2 I was initially worried that it had jumped the shark as half the cast had disappeared from the opening credits, could it haul itself back into my good books?
Its year two and the staff of Crane, Poole and Schmidt are back (well at least most of them). Both Denny and Alan are still there going about their cases with their usual abandonment. The season will see Denny become married and shoot at least two people, whilst Alan will suffer from a series of psychological ailments. Lesser known characters from season one are fleshed out as we discover more about Schmidt and Lewiston. Finally, we are introduced to Denise Bauer, a female lawyer who has ambitions of becoming a partner whilst trying not to fall in love with a very rich, but terminally ill client.
As the synopsis suggests there is a lot that goes on over a full season of Boston Legal and it continues to be a very well written and funny comedy drama. Created by Ally McBeal scribe David E. Kelley, this show is not afraid to be eccentric or deep. There are many positive things about the show. I think that the one liners within the script are fantastic and amongst the best that zippy American comedy has to offer. The lines are similar to those found in something like Friends or Frasier and not your usual law drama. My favourite innovation in this series is the references that some of the characters make to being in a TV show and living their lives in episodes. This wink wink type of joke should be patronising and alienating, but the characters are so well loved that they become hilarious.
The great writing is helped by the comedic talent on show that manages to mix the glib nature of the script with a lot of pathos for several of the topics tackled. The main draw to the series are James Spader as Alan Shore and William Shatner as Denny Crane. Spader in particular is a brilliant and accomplished actor and he is able to make the completely repellent Alan the greatest anti-hero ever. You spend half the time disgusted by him, but still cheer for him to win. Spader is accompanied well by Shatner as the muddled Denny. In this series Shatner is given more to do and he works very well as a comedy foil. The relationship between Alan and Denny is a real highlight to the show and lifts it into the realms of must watch.
I am also glad that some of the lesser lights were given more of a chance in this season and some of the poorer actors fired. Brad Chase and Paul Lewiston were only straight men in the first season, but they are given far rounder attributes here. Monica Potter (Con Air) was a drip in season 1 and she is soon written out as she was probably demanding more pay than she deserved. Writing out Potter was a good thing, but I do have a problem with them introducing two new characters in episode one only for them to disappear again 6 episodes later. I was actually beginning to enjoy them and I feel that perhaps the show is becoming reliant on too few people.
One character that I still have an issue is Schmidt as I find her too duplicitous. Here is the most liberal of the top management, yet she is the first to fire someone or stick the knife in. I have discussed this with my gf and she believes that I have an issue with powerful women on TV! This is probably true, but it is not because I dislike women more the fact that they can be kind to your face, then stab you in the back. The male characters may be gits, but at least they are up front about it. Its like cats and dogs dogs may be stupid but at least you know what youre getting!
Another problem that dogs this show from the first season is the need for the writers to be too liberal. Some of the episodes are only there to act as mini soap boxes for the latest liberal agenda. I actually agreed with a lot of what the programme had to say, but to produce it in such a biased and one sided manner is just embarrassing. Also, Alan and Denny do refer to sex a lot in the show and I can imagine that some people would find it a bit creepy. I for one like the characters and understand that this is in their nature and fits the show, however, if I were to stumble across the show for the first time it might look a bit weird and creepy.
Overall, I would say that with the streamlining of the cast Boston Legal Season 2 is able to concentrate for longer on the best characters and this makes the show better. The more Alan and Denny in the programme the better. To prevent the show from becoming too wacky and losing any of its dignity the more straight characters have also been rounded and given more to do. This means that the balance between the silly comedy and law drama is just about right. With such a great script and good acting the only thing preventing this from being a must watch for everyone is the heavy handed liberalism that is likely to have as many people fuming as it people clapping.
Starring: James Spader and William Shatner
Price: Amazon uk £33.98
There are only two 5 minute featurettes not a great haul.
BOSTON LEGAL revolves around the Boston litigation law firm of Crane, Poole, and Schmidt, in particular two eccentric and flawed attorneys, Alan Shore and Denny Crane. Shore, an unscrupulous and wily ambulance chaser and womaniser finds an uneasy alliance with Crane, a bombastic, self-aggrandising, and occasionally eccentric elder lawyer. Despite their ethical and emotional deficiencies, Shore and Crane usually find themselves fighting on the right side, as they take up cases that no one else is willing to touch.