Producer David E. Kelly's spin-off follow-up to "The Practice", "Boston Legal" focuses in on the high-powered Boston law firm of Crane, Poole and Schmidt. As with the other shows from Kelly, the show follows the personal and professional lives of the lawyers as the deal with cases and, in-between, deal with each other. I've always watched Kelly's shows occasionally in the past, but never became a full-time follower.
Well, that continues with "Boston Legal", but I have to say that this is easily my favorite of the producer's shows. The show's appeal starts with the fact that it's brilliantly cast. Anyone who has seen William Shatner in interviews in recent years knows that he seems like such an amusing character. He works perfectly here as Denny Crane, a successful, egotistical and eccentric senior partner at the firm.
Just as much fun is James Spader as egotistical lawyer Alan Shore. The series finally gives Spader a chance to use the full extent of his snarky, cynical side (and Spader enjoyably plays it as if he's damn proud of being this way), and it's terrific fun to watch. The supporting performances ("Lost" star Julie Bowen and former "Keen Eddie" star Mark Valley as the rival of the Spader character; Monica Potter and Lake Bell have left the series by this point) are all absolutely stellar, as well.
The other heavy hitter in the series is Candance Bergen (whose role starts in second half of the first season) as senior partner Sally Schmidt, returning to the firm (in "Schmidt Happens" in season 1) to clean up matters (when asked if she's back for good, Bergen deadpans, "Just for bad.") Bergen does an incredible job going up against the Shatner/Spader pairing and the strong conflict adds another welcome layer to the already snappy office politics.
It's evident from watching episodes on the first three season sets that not only does the cast of the series have wonderful chemistry with each other (Spader and Shatner especially bounce dialogue off each other in classic fashion), but that they click almost immediately. Creator David E. Kelly manages to get another perfect piece of casting in this season, getting Craig Bierko - whose sharp delivery (see "Sour Grapes" fits in perfectly - to join for many episodes this season as Jeffrey Coho, a lawyer who had transfered in from the firm's New York office. In the character's first episode, he informs Denny that he and another lawyer (Claire Simms, played by Constance Zimmer) are "the new guys." Crane responds, "Oh please, if there were new guys they would have shown up in the season premiere."
Aside from the fantastic performances, Kelly's latest effort also has quite a few other elements worth mentioning. The dialogue is consistently fantastic, with rapid-fire delivery and a lot of sharp, witty laughs. The episodes are briskly paced and keep moving between subplots, but the series still manages to develop each plot and give the actors their moments to shine. The main plots are a mixture of different tones, but whether dramatic of comedic, "Legal" manages to move between them with ease.
The show's lightning-fast dialogue and edgy, occasionally outrageous/twisted humor is still as fresh, the stories continue to offer great surprises and the character relationships continue to develop. Although the cases on the show are often rather eccentric in nature and played for comedy, Kelly - somewhat similar to what he did in "Picket Fences" - has a way of finding the surreal in situations and boiling it down until he gets to the humanity of the moment and the situation begins to turn more thought-provoking. Overall, Season 3 of the series sees the show only getting better, with some great guest star performances, continued fine work from the core ensemble and writing that remains smart, sharp and often surprising.
45. 3- 1 19 Sep 06 Can't We All Get a Lung?
46. 3- 2 26 Sep 06 New Kids on the Block
47. 3- 3 3 Oct 06 Desperately Seeking Shirley
48. 3- 4 10 Oct 06 Fine Young Cannibal
49. 3- 5 17 Oct 06 Whose God Is It Anyway?
50. 3- 6 24 Oct 06 The Verdict
51. 3- 7 31 Oct 06 Trick or Treat
52. 3- 8 26 Nov 06 Lincoln
53. 3- 9 28 Nov 06 On the Ledge
54. 3-10 5 Dec 06 The Nutcrackers
55. 3-11 9 Jan 07 Angel of Death
56. 3-12 16 Jan 07 Nuts
57. 3-13 30 Jan 07 Dumping Bella
58. 3-14 6 Feb 07 Selling Sickness
59. 3-15 13 Feb 07 Fat Burner
60. 3-16 20 Feb 07 The Good Lawyer
61. 3-17 20 Mar 07 The Bride Wore Blood
62. 3-18 3 Apr 07 Son of the Defender
63. 3-19 10 Apr 07 Brotherly Love
64. 3-20 24 Apr 07 Guise N' Dolls
65. 3-21 1 May 07 Tea and Sympathy
66. 3-22 8 May 07 Guantanamo By the Bay
67. 3-23 15 May 07 Duck and Cover
68. 3-24 29 May 07 Trial of the Century
VIDEO: "Boston Legal" is presented by Fox in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality isn't without a few minor concerns, but it's pretty marvelous overall. Sharpness and detail are consistently quite good, as the picture appeared crisp and well-defined throughout.
Some minor artifacting is spotted briefly on a few occasions here-and-there, but the picture otherwise looked crisp and clean, with no edge enhancement or other issues. Colors looked rich and warm, with nice saturation and no smearing or other concerns.
SOUND: The show's 2.0 audio is perfectly satisfactory for the material. Dialogue remains crisp and clear throughout, with no distortion or other issues.
EXTRAS: Only a couple of brief featurettes: "Character Witness" and "Out of Order". "Out of Order" is a fluffy featurette about the various judge characters in the series. "Character Witness" is a short piece about the guest stars who appeared in this season.
Final Thoughts: "Boston Legal" continues to get better and better in the third season, as the ensemble cast is fantastic and both the witty, irreverent humor and the more dramatic moments still remain wonderfully entertaining. The DVD set provides minimal supplements, but fine audio/video quality. Recommended.