Boston Legal (ABC)
Boston Legal is the quintessential David E. Kelley series-as topical as Picket Fences, as concerned with ethics as The Practice, as unabashedly goofy as Ally McBeal. Kelley, co-executive producers Bill D’Elia, Janet Leahy, and Scott Kaufer and their team use the cases of Crane, Poole & Schmidt, a blue-chip corporate law firm, to address issues ranging from the death penalty to the predatory practices of credit-card companies; from global warming to polygamy; from plastic surgery to the war in Iraq. And unlike other prime-time entertainment series that carefully balance their debates so as not to polarize or offend, Boston Legal actually takes stands, most often via the unorthodox courtroom summations of attorney Alan Shore (James Spader). The writing—by Kelley, Leahy, Phoef Sutton, Jonathan Shapiro, Jim Bagdonas, Lawrence Broch, Andrew Kreisberg, and Michael Reisz, among others—is among the pithiest and most pungent in all of television. Politicized as it is, Boston Legal is also a sprightly showcase for a marvelous ensemble of familiar and fresh faces that also includes William Shatner, Candice Bergen, Mark Valley, Rene Auberjonois, Julie Bowen, and Rhona Mitra. Credit also directors such as Bagdonas, Ron Underwood, and Matt Shakman, and editors Michael Hathaway and Philip Carr Neel for giving the series a pace and visual pop that approximate the strut of its cocky legal eagles. For fearing neither silliness nor social commentary and for adroitly combining the two, a Peabody goes to Boston Legal.
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