A decade ago, at a press conference for "Ally McBeal," a reporter, quoting "As Good As It Gets," asked David E. Kelley how he wrote women so well. This was early in that show's lifespan -- and midway through Kelley's transformation from primetime savior to carnival barker -- so it wasn't obvious yet that Kelley doesn't write women well, and that human beings in general are a stretch.
These days, whether in his ABC hit "Boston Legal" or his brand-new Fox show "The Wedding Bells," Kelley doesn't write people. He writes cartoons. They're often amusing, sometimes eloquent cartoons, but cartoons nonetheless, with self-conscious catch phrases and wacky tics and behavior that only makes sense if you know an eccentric, powerful producer is writing it for them.
"Boston Legal" at least has James Spader and William Shatner, two actors who embrace the caricature, and the occasional flowery monologue about the genius of our judicial system. Within the strange limitations Kelley's placed on his own talent, it mostly works.
"The Wedding Bells" doesn't. It abandons all of Kelley's strengths, like the legal setting and male bonding, and drowns itself in his weaknesses: women discussing their feelings, women flirting with men, women acting body-conscious... basically, anything involving the female gender.
To read the full thing, click here. Also, the column about tacky Jersey reality show contestants ran yesterday.