Final Arguments for Boston Legal

I’ve expressed my appreciation for Boston Legal in the past so you know my affection for most things from David E. Kelley. Tonight, the series airs its final two episodes and I couldn’t let the moment go without acknowledging the passing of a trend in television.

Two, actually.

First, Boston Legal is quirky, idiosyncratic and maddening as it swings from drama to slapstick. ABC is rapidly draining itself of shows with a hint of originality, personality and even whimsy. , Dirty, Sexy, Money, and Eli Stone will be gone shortly and these four gave the network a distinctive voice. They provided us with variations on the lawyer show or prime time serial. They were smart, funny, well-written and well-acted. All will be sorely missed.

The other trend is the end of topicality. Boston Legal was the only prime time series I knew of that had the characters actually discussing the headlines of the day. The arguments were about Obama versus Bush, Iraq, the Economy, Federal deregulation….you name it. Imagine the housewives on Wisteria Lane actually reading the newspaper let alone sounding off on an issue. Every time Alan Shore or Shirley Schmidt (and to a lesser extent Carl Sack) appeared in court, they regaled us with facts and information, all culled from published sources and sounded as a wake up call. David Kelley’s soapbox will be missed (until his next series turns up on NBC in the fall, we hope).

We haven’t had anything quite as topical since the West Wing and now this vital voice is being silence and television will return to being a pale reflection of the world we actually live in.

There has been much made of the bond between Alan Shore and Denny Crane but there are few other genuine male friendships that are depicted on television with support, jealousy, and affection on regular display. Never are characters more willing expose their insecurities on such a recurring basis as those nightcaps on the balcony.

The characters will be missed and the performances from William Shatner, James Spader, and Candice Bergen will be fondly recalled in the years ahead.

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