Monday, December 08, 2008

Boston Legal Series Finale - A Review

I titled this "A Review" only because it follows form; this is really more of a maudlin lamentation - my mourning of Boston Legal - a kind of eulogy. I mean, can you believe these crazy, wonderful people are no longer going to be in our lives? I understand it's silly and all, and I am a late-comer to the show - I caught an episode here and there, but really fell in love with it just 2-3 years ago - but I was constantly checking the schedule all summer long.

When Boston Legal ended last season, it was like a chore I hadn't finished - like being at the store and not being able to remember what it was I had to buy. I eventually found something in its timeslot, but it took weeks to hit me that I was missing Boston Legal. I could not figure out what it was I used to watch on Monday nights until it suddenly hit me one day; I'd had it on a weekly reminder, so it always clicked right over and I never had to think about it. It had become that much a part of my life!

Boston Legal was one of those special TV shows that did what so few others have ever managed to do: it went right up to the line, every single episode, but somehow managed never to step too far over it. When Denny Crane asked Alan to marry him tonight, they blatantly acknowledged this with the "jumping the shark" line. Then he noted how "this would make a good television series." That really sums up Boston Legal: it constantly knocked on the fourth wall, but never broke it. Whereas shows like Scrubs chuck it and just go all-out (many say Scrubs jumped the shark years ago), Boston Legal instinctively knew where the line was, and though it pushed it as far as it could as often as possible, it never went right over. Watching it... not so much flirt with the line as sexually assault it (Denny Crane) was half the fun - especially this season.

It's useless to point-out how great the acting was, the writing, the direction - even the jump-cut-heavy editing - but there it is (for completeness, if nothing else). Again flogging a dead horse here, but I'd be remiss if I didn't note how damned good-looking the whole cast was, while we're at it.

While Boston Legal tackled all of the big issues with common sense, style, and a trademarked sense of humor, the real key to its success was its handling of relationships. And while the whole thing was exactly as far over the top as any show can be without being unwatchable, the audience had a relationship with every one of the characters. No one acts like Denny Crane - well, those who do are either in jail or close to it; no lawyer gives the emotional rants Alan Shore does - few could, even if the judge allowed it; and I sincerely doubt any fan has the problems Clarence or Jerry suffer - but there was something in each and every one of these outlandish characters that not only kept us watching, but made Boston Legal truly classic television.

And that, of course, means they could not wait to cancel it.

Eat a dick for being such a greedy creep, David E. Kelley - time and time again. You've been making the same show for years now and when you finally mastered the formula, you cocked it all up because you were afraid you couldn't make the payments on that diamond-encrusted fishtank full of endangered sharks with lasers attached to their foreheads.

And shame on you, ABC, for shrugging-off the best show you have! But I expect this from network TV because you're all entirely out of touch with the viewing public. I will give you kudos for ousting Kelley on Life on Mars, which is almost as good as the original series. But let's face it, you're going to drop the ball again. Boston Legal was a surefire winner all the way around and you let it slip through your fingers.

Thank you, Powers That Be, for a good run at least - Boston Legal is showing on ION TV right now and is certain to be in reruns for years to come. And we can always buy the overpriced DVD sets - as I'm quite certain David E. Kelley will fight tooth and nail to keep it offline for as long as he can.

Goodbye, Boston Legal. There is only one thing left to say:

Denny Crane.

© C Harris Lynn, 2008


nightcrew said...

I love the show too, and am really going to miss it.
Moving it around so many nights--it was on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wed during its run didn't help. Never felt that ABC gave the show the love it deserved. Classic smart TV.

Manodogs said...

Hi, Nightcrew, and thanks for posting.

I meant to mention that somewhere, too! Like I say, I really only started watching regularly in 2006 or so, but I could have sworn it was on Tue. when I first started watching. I wasn't 100% sure, so I didn't say anything, but I would check the schedule pretty much every night over the summer because I missed it... to no avail.

Others have mentioned how little ABC supported the show. I really think it comes down to the whole Life on Mars and money dispute: I think ABC was using Boston Legal as a bargaining chip with David E. Kelley and the whole thing blew-up in everyone's face.

Of course, we are the ones who suffer - I have a feeling both Kelley and ABC will be just fine.

Unknown said...

Edwin Poole: Do people know?
Shirley Schmidt: Only a certain few at this point.
Edwin Poole: So we're really done then? Canceled?

Manodogs said...

Denny Crane.

Anonymous said...

I happened to catch the series finale and watched to see how the storylines would be concluded. I was not surprised at how ridiculously it ended. I was a fan of the show for the first two years, but after the character and legal storylines became lost in the liberal twaddle that became the focus of the show, I quickly lost interest. Hopefully, the show will be replaced with something that seeks to entertain, rather than give Kelley a soap box for his extremist views.

Manodogs said...

Thanks for commenting, Heartland!

A lot of people have responded with similar complaints. While Boston Legal obviously took the Liberal view on the topics it tackled, I certainly did not find them "extremist" - by any measure.

Whether I agreed or disagreed (and just for the record, I agreed with most of it, but vehemently disagreed with the stand on immigration - for one example), I thought a lot of them were handled from a common sense POV. Yes, undeniably with a Liberal stance, but more common sense than anything.

Honestly, I feel that most of the people who agree with you and considered Boston Legal to be "extremist" Liberal rhetoric are blinded by their own political "twaddle." Face it: remove the religion from 99% of the issues Boston Legal tackled and the views it provided were common sense!

It was inarguably a soapbox, but Kelley was not the sole writer - in fact, I don't think he wrote the majority of the episodes. Of course, I'm not seeking to defend that - he was obviously the Big Cheese and whether or not he actually wrote the episodes himself doesn't mean much; he chose who wrote them, he oversaw their writing, etc. Still, while certain issues presented were warped to the left, most were more middle-line moderate than Right-Wingers are willing to admit.

And Denny Crane's (Denny Crane) hardline Republicanism always presented the other side of the argument. That he happened to be infected with Mad Cow (Denny Crane) at least gives him an excuse for being so ignorant and stubborn. Still, it's not as if Boston Legal was simply a one-sided showcase for the Left.

A soapbox, definitely; Liberal, without question; "extremist," hardly.

Denny Crane.

Anonymous said...

I have already enjoyed this show. I am really going to miss it.

Unknown said...

As with any Kelly show, the show isn't about a show, it's about the extreme societal differences within modern culture.

While someone referred to Kelly's views as extremist twaddle, I'd ask the writer, why does ones' views whose differs from your constitute either twaddle or extremism?

Kelly is a liberal, no doubt about it. It's why I watch him and Keith Olberbman, not Rush Limbaugh or O'Really's spin zone.

While our public airwaves are to be used in part for the education of opposing views, the network news as lost track of this portion of it task in exchange for it's free use, occasionally, some network or writer remembers this was part of the deal. That is Kelley.

While we on the left suffered with 8 years of Bush, 6 of which were never questioned by the network news, Kelley took on the powers that were in charge.

And I for one am grateful.

Although I've seen David's shows come and go, eventually, he always returns. Picket Fences was a great loss at the time, but we saw the point of view return in Ali McBeal, Boston Public and Boston Legal.

I'm sure David will bring his views in another character based ensemble show.

Manodogs said...

Denny Crane.

The Mouse Roar said...

I would like to mention, in addition, that my views are conservative, however, Boston Legal was one of TH most thought-provoking shows I have ever watched. Can't argue with the Bush complaints nor would I be insulted at any of the political views the show took. In the real world, we agree to disagree about our politics but we agree wholeheartedly that the show will be missed. Ahh, Denny and Alan, to end each day as you did....