Tuesday, April 15, 2008

All TV: 'Boston Legal,' 'Role Model: Gene Wilder' reviews

Today's column is a two-fer, starting off with me trying to come to grips with a certain recent repeat "Boston Legal" Emmy winner:
Okay, I think I understand the James Spader Emmy thing now.

Spader has won the lead drama actor Emmy three of the last four years -- beating the likes of James Gandolfini, Hugh Laurie, Martin Sheen and Ian McShane in the process -- for his work as eccentric attorney Alan Shore. And other than that first win, when Spader's oily charisma resucitated "The Practice" just long enough for it to reincarnate as "Boston Legal," Spader's continued awards show success has inspired disbelief and outright derision from everyone not among the 10 million or so people who tune into "Boston Legal" each week.

You can count me as one of the disbelievers - the lead paragraph for my most recent Emmy recap story was, "Didn't I warn you not to watch the Emmys? James Spader? Really?" - as well as one of the non-viewers of "Boston Legal." Whatever admiration I had for the work of Spader, or of multiple Emmy-winning co-star William Shatner wasn't enough to make me subject myself to the continued idiosyncracies and fetishes of writer/producer David E. Kelley, who never met a moment of recognizable human behavior he couldn't stamp out of a script.
After that, I look at TCM's entry in the celebrities-interviewing-celebrities genre, where Alec Baldwin and Gene Wilder chat about Wilder's career. This exchange is a highlight:
There are personal parallels as well. While discussing the passion in Wilder's "Young Frankenstein" performance, Baldwin asks, "What was coming out of you?"

"Rage," Wilder explains. "Rage at my first wife. We'll have to talk about that one day."

"I'll get a pen," says Baldwin, he of the infamous marital issues.
To read the full thing, click here.

14 comments:

dez said...

That's next week's "Boston Legal." Which I am now spoiled for, dammit (not your fault, though).

dez said...

Oops, I mean tomorrow's episode. Time has lost all meaning since those Bruuuuce shows last week :-)

J said...

If I recall correctly, even Spader looked embarrassed at the podium during his most recent Emmy win.

I've said it before: The rest of the show be damned, the last scene of every episode of Boston Legal just makes me happy. Even when overrun by Kelley's straw man arguments, Spader and Shatner on the balcony with cigs and cocktails and sleepover talk... it's old friends, it's good times, it's real.

Well, real-ish.

Anonymous said...

The Alan Shore in the last season of "The Practice" would have made a great anchor for a show. When "Boston Legal" debuted and slowly became comedic liberal wish fufillment, I lost interest. Not because of the politics, but just because it was such a far cry from the character's origins.

Matt said...

Actually, the first season of "Boston Legal" was relatively faithful to the darker amoral/do anything to win Shore introduced on "The Practice." Since then, it's become political soapboxing and increasingly strange performances and storylines (the Clarence/Clarice storyline in particular) and a revolving door supporting cast. But sometimes, as Alan rightly points out, it still hits, and you have to admire the show for the ultra-meta tone and for finding an appropriate post-ironic use of Shatner.

dez said...

I've said it before: The rest of the show be damned, the last scene of every episode of Boston Legal just makes me happy. Even when overrun by Kelley's straw man arguments, Spader and Shatner on the balcony with cigs and cocktails and sleepover talk... it's old friends, it's good times, it's real.

Well, real-ish.


I wish I could find a clip of the time Alan and Denny discussed the true meaning of friendship. That was one of the best balcony scenes and brought a tear to my eye. These macho guys clearly love each other, which is a big reason I keep watching the show. Also, because I like it. And Alan is still amoral, just a little funnier than before. I like the lighter tone and I like the bizarre storylines (would any firm hire back Jerry after he took the partners hostage? But he's such a great character, they had to bring him back). I also love the theme song :-)

LA said...

Ah, vindication at last.

So glad to see it finally said that whatever your feelings about David E. Kelley/Boston Legal, Spader consistently brings his A game.

(j - I don't think anyone was more surprised than Spader himself.)

Christy said...

I love those balcony scenes as well. Am I the only one who thinks that Kelly despises lawyers? (Even though or because he is one, sorta.)

Pamela Jaye said...

you are an evil person. now I can't read your column till I go home and watch the episode

Evil.

:-)
wait. it's not on till tonight... oh right - there are still people who watch TV in real time.
Darn, now I can't watch it till at least 10.

I've been watching BL all along (though I've mostly been deleting it, till I heard Scott was coming) and even I - who watches it, and kind of likes it (except for this season for some reason - and then Denny did his case, and it was good again)... I love DEK and I disagree with that "human emotion" thing, but I just can't understand Spader beating Hugh Laurie out of an Emmy - and I'm not a Hugh fan, and I'm less a House fan than a Grey's fan, and the only person on Grey's that I can think deserved an Emmy (and didn't win, btw) was Kate Burton.

anyway... I can't read your HIMYM either (sigh) and my DVR has like 4GB of space left on it, so I'm here at work trying to commercial cut episodes of Chuck, remotely, via VNC. fun...

and yes, Alan was much more fun on the Practice. alas, that was on my old DVR...

and i too like the balcony scenes - even if Alan and Denny can never equal Jeffrey Geiger and Aaron Shutt.

special k said...

Alan, I too grew to loathe this ridiculously bad show, much as I loathe much of anything David E. Kelly does (and I can't stand watching William Shatner "act"). But back in the day I did enjoy watching James Spader do his thing. This show dropped off my radar a long time ago, but I will tune in just to see this scene.

A J L said...

if anyone is interested in more of Wilder's frankness I highly recommend his autobiography 'Kiss me like a stranger'

Bobman said...

Bah, I really wanted to watch that Baldwin / Wilder thing, only to find out that TCM is inexplicably not on my cable package (which is a pretty high-tier package). Dangit.

Pamela Jaye said...

Actually, the first season of "Boston Legal" was relatively faithful to the darker amoral/do anything to win Shore introduced on "The Practice."

And, even more oddly, it was Eugene and Eleanor as bastions of propriety, against Alan, the do anything to win guy.
Wasn't this the same Eugene and Ellenor (not going back to fix the first spelling) who Plan B'd and told their drunk driving clients to take a swig in front of the cops? But by season 8, they were all moral and high and mighty versus Alan.
I'm not sure I realized it at the time....

Yes I finally saw the ep - last night, and the strike comment was lovely. I do actually miss the 4th wall breakage this season, as I miss a lot of the characters who have... been replaced (Denise, Brad, Tara, that girl from Good Morning Miami and maybe Lake Bell. And Odo)

dez said...

I've always been curious why this show has such a cast rotation. Do they get bored and leave? Does DEK get bored writing for them and send them on their way?