This is late (in terms of how quickly one can get …

This is late (in terms of how quickly one can get news these days) in T.V. land, but it’s something that I only just found out today. Any longterm reader of this blog will know that I’m an avid watcher of television, and of all the shows that I hold most dear Boston Legal is one of them. I’ve talked about it being a good show and then ways in which it has improved. I’ve covered all topics that I thought needed covering.

Lo and behold, I found a topic that I needed to talk about. No, it’s not that the show has increasingly become “The Alan Shore & Denny Crane politics Show” (something that it has actually become) …

Before I get into detail about it, I’ll preface this with a little ‘viewing rule’ that I have. Knowing full well that T.V. shows are T.V. shows, and that they are all competing for ratings, and that death-scenes of favourite characters garner the highest ratings (usually), I invest my ‘attachment’ into many characters. This ensures that when one of my favourites are written out of a show, I still have other favourites that I’m watching a show for. So, let me list the people (in order) that I’m ‘invested’ in for season one of Boston Legal:

– Sally Sweep, played by Lake Bell
– Brad Chase, played by Mark Valley
– Alan Shore, played by James Spader
– Lori Colson, played by Monica Potter
Denny Crane, played by William Shatner

By the end of the first season, Lake Bell had left, Five episodes into the second season, Monica Potter had left. Also, early in season two, Tara Wilson (who played Rhona Mitra) had left as well. The show, thankfully, introduced new, full time characters to replace those that left. Denise Bauer (played by Julie Bowen), Shirley Schmidt (played by Candice Bergen), Sara Holt (played by Ryan Michelle Bathe) and Garrett Wells (played by Justin Mentell) were all progressively brought into the show. As well, Paul Lewiston (played by Rene Auberjonois) was fleshed out as a character (spoken about here), and built up in a way that made you want to see him take on a case or have something to do with a plot line because you knew it would be serious then. I weighed up my stock options and invested in the following:

– Denise Bauer
– Brad Chase
– Alan Shore

This was around the time where, as I linked to earlier, I thought the show was taking a turn for the worst. But, by the end of the season, a new character had been introduced that grabbed my attention and got me hooked more-so than I was before. Michael J. Fox landed a reoccurring role as Daniel Post, which thankfully stretched to this latest season, but … well, I’ll get to that later. Marlene Stanger (played by Parker Posey) was such an interesting character and so ‘effective’ in the environment (in terms of in and out of character) that, after blogging about her, I re-did my favourites list:

– Marlene Stanger
– Denise Bauer
– Brad Chase
– Daniel Post
– Alan Shore
– Denny Crane

But, come season three, well, it really was a strange turn of events. In no particular order, Garrett Wells, Sara Holt, and Marlene Stanger had all been written out. Brad Chase hardly appeared, as was the case with Denise Bauer and Paul Lewiston. The worst part of all that: Marlene Stanger was gone! The Squid, who had peaked my interest in the show after four episodes was headed for the New York branch. I thought the show was doomed, and more-so when I heard that more new characters were being written in. Jeffrey Coho (played by Craig Bierko) and Claire Simms (played by Constance Zimmer) managed to dispel any fear of them adding negativity to the show, as their characters (of particular note: Jeffrey Coho) revived the show and headed it in a new direction. My new list became:

– Jeffrey Coho
– Denise Bauer
– Brad Chase
– Daniel Post
– Claire Simms
– Alan Shore
– Denny Crane

Of course, Paul Lewiston was interesting to see come and go, and Shirley Schmidt, yeah, interesting enough. Anyway, generally, the show was at it’s peak, and above all, had more characters that I liked than ever before.

Daniel Post received an increased role … then he was killed off.

Then last week’s episode came along and Jeffrey Coho left.

Then I got news today: the following character have been written out of the show for season four:

– Denise Bauer
– Brad Chase
– Claire Simms
– Paul Lewiston

In one fell swoop, five of my favourite characters were gone, and a fringe member was out the door with them. My list then became:

– Alan Shore
– Denny Crane

Thus, as I hinted at before, the show truly has become the Alan and Denny show. I loved Boston Legal, but I don’t love it so much that I could stand it just centering around the same three characters doing the same three things every week. I liked the show, as of late, not because it was the same old left vs. right or Republican vs. Democrat debates between Denny and Alan (which had become stale and boring in my opinion) but because I could watch as multiple other plots unfolded and took shape that interested me to no end.

People are going to say that Denise and Brad did little-to-no lawyer-stuff towards the end. This is true. But will they stop to think that them not doing the lawyer-stuff gave people a break from every other character that was doing it? And Jeffrey, well, people have already said that he was written out because he was ‘competition’ to the Alan Shore character. That is no reason to get rid of him! Far out, it should serve for the writers to invest more in him if anything! Play the two off each other, mess around with them, keep them on each other’s heels. Just make sure they encounter one another at least once in the hour!

Claire, well, she would be the one you would write out if you were having a minor cast shuffle-up. But when you’re losing three of your longest-serving cast members (with Mark Valley having been on the show since day one) you don’t cut out one of the more interesting characters who, again, gave viewers away time from Alan and Denny doing their same old thing.

By having the centre of attention on Denny and Alan, the show became predictable. I said it before, and it’s going to happen again. The show become like a formula:

Alan takes on a case that allows him to voice his dissenting, anti-Bush, Democratic opinion -> Alan then voices his opinion throughout the show, resulting in a disagreement with Denny -> Alan makes a grandiose closing to his case, summing up why the Republicans and Bush are bad -> Alan wins the case -> Alan sits on Denny’s balcony, the two smoke a cigar and drink whiskey as the show fades out.

Denise, Brad, Jeffrey, Paul, Claire, Daniel, Marlene, Lori and Sally all made the show unpredictable and watchable. Each and every one of those characters will be gone by the next season, and they are likely to never return. Thankfully Shirley is still there, with a hotch-potch bunch of characters that don’t interest me in the slightest, as well as two, soon-to-be named characters that will join the firm. But it doesn’t matter. I’ve now lost every character that I’ve really shown an interest in that wasn’t Alan or Denny, who are slowly driving me up the wall. The question is, for me, will I be watching much of the fourth season, or until all of my favourites are gone? Season five does indeed seem a daunting task to undertake right now …

Thomas.

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