Saturday, May 30, 2009
Boston Legal - Season Five (Fox, $49.98) is now on DVD, and with this release we conclude the series on DVD of one of my favorite television series of the decade. The show's fifth season was its last, having aired on ABC this past fall. Thirteen episodes are presented, and they draw to a close one of the most fun legal dramas in TV history.
With this season, we also bid goodbye to one of what I feel to be the greatest characters in the annals of television in Denny Crane (William Shatner). His "Mad Cow"-induced craziness continues in full swing for the majority of the season, while towards the end of the season his disease (which in actuality is Alzheimer's) begins to progress, and the madness takes on a sadder tone. Alongside Denny as always is his best friend Alan Shore (James Spader). Also on hand for the show's final year is of course named partner Shirley Schmidt (Candice Bergen), senior partner Carl Sack (John Larroquette), plus associates Jerry Espenson (Christian Clementson) and Katie Lloyd (Tara Summers).
If you're one of those viewers who dislikes when shows have cast members pair into couples towards the end, you may not have been a fan of the way the final episode progressed. All six people I listed wind up in each other's company -- Jerry and Katie gradually move closer, while Shirley and Carl prepare for their wedding...meanwhile in order to assure his proper care and safety as things deteriorates, Denny proposes marriage to who else but his best friend -- Alan. All of this occurs, naturally, at the same time as recurring character Paul Lewiston (Rene Auberjonois) negotiating the merger of the firm with a Chinese outfit. Great fun is still had, while plenty of drama still ensues. Also returning this season is Betty White as the crazed Catherine Piper, plus special guest star Valerie Bertinelli, who plays a cattle rancher who Denny is convinced is Valerie Bertinelli. You can also find interesting guest spots with the various case judges. For example, Williams Daniels -- known to many as Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World but to *me* as Dr. Mark Craig from St. Elsewhere -- appears as a judge. Meanwhile, as an attorney, Christopher Rich from Reba appears. Annie Potts appears in a later episode, "The Bad Seed." Keep an eye out for even more!
For the 5th and final season we got a packaging change -- gone are the usual slim cases, and in their place are the fragile clear plastic keep cases that I'm not particularly a fan of. The four single-sided discs are held by two plastic trays in the center. Package art for both the outer box holding the plastic case as well as the case itself feature Denny and Alan posted together in front of the Boston skyline each holding a cigar. Each disc features its own disc art. Disc 1 features the distinctive Crane, Poole, and Schmidt sign in the hallway. Disc 2 features the hands of Denny and Alan on the balcony each with a cigar with the building in the background. Disc 3 again features their hands only -- only this time with a glass of some rather fine alcohol each. Finally on disc 4 you see a wide shot of the balcony, with the two's trademark white chairs, both empty.
Getting to what is on the discs themselves: I have always loved the format of menus from 20th Century Fox, with each episode getting a sub-menu and scene selection options, but the main menus haven't always been lively. With Boston Legal Season 5 though, you get lots of animation -- a still photo of each cast member is in the foreground. Behind them is an animated silver panel, and within that panel is a clip featuring that cast member. After about 5 seconds the cast photo and video clip rotate to the next cast member. It's really a fairly spiffy layout. In front of the all of this is a stationary silver bar with the season and disc number, with a red panel holding the episode list. From there you can access the sub menus, which feature multiple language options plus the ability to access any given scene. The video quality is absolutely flawless. There is no grain, noise, artefacting, or any such debris. The video is simply spectacular. Audio sounds great as well. Vocals are nice and loud, music sounds great. There are numerous chapter stops -- with each one tying to a location from the scene selection menu. Runtimes on the hour long episodes range from 42 to 43 minutes, the standard for a 2008 drama series.
FOUR special features grace this set. Something I wish we'd had far, far more of over the series returns for the final season, deleted scenes. The scenes feature an introduction by showrunner Bill D'Elia. You can also find a featurette regarding the remarkably close friendship enjoyed by Denny and Alan over the years, as well as a feature focused on a dropped story from the episode "Juiced." It begins with an introduction regarding what was cut, and why it was cut -- at which point the video itself is shown in its entirely, essentially giving us a full half-episode extra of the series, as there's a good 20 minutes of footage. The story? Denny in fact has a daughter, who is played in the episode by Kimberly Williams-Paisley (According to Jim). The crew felt so bad about cutting her out that's how she wound up as the attorney in the Supreme Court case in the finale. "Finally" is a feature regarding the very, very interesting finale of the show.
And with that, we draw to a close of one of the most interesting and enjoyable TV series of the decade. ABC enjoyed a wave of success with several of its series debuting in 2004-05, and of those, Boston Legal is the first to depart. We got a nice volume of features for the set and between these five DVD sets and the countless reruns on broadcast and cable Boston Legal fans are sure to be able to enjoy Denny Crane and friends for years to come. Strong recommendation.
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher
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Tuesday, March 28
The Middle - "Look Who's Not Talking" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Although excited about finding a new discount store that sells oddly shaped fruits and vegetables, Frankie is devastated when Axl refuses to talk to her or even answer her texts after inadvertently admitting how she feels about April in front of him. Meanwhile, Brick develops a new quirky tick in the form of a repetitive phrase and lands in detention, and Brad surprises Sue by coming out for a weekend visit at her college.
American Housewife - "Surprise" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Oliver tells his parents that he’s so embarrassed by their modest house that he’d rather not have a birthday party at all. Katie decides to teach him a lesson by ambushing him with a surprise party at home with all his wealthy friends.
American Housewife - "The Man Date" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Greg is delighted to finally have made a friend in Westport, fellow history buff Stan (guest star Timothy Omundson), but Katie isn’t as happy, especially since Stan is married to her nemesis, Chloe Brown Mueller (Jessica St. Clair).
Fresh Off the Boat - "The Taming of the Dads" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
To celebrate their one-year anniversary, Eddie reluctantly agrees to take Alison to the see a modern remake of Romeo and Juliet. But when Louis and Alison’s dad bond over their love of Shakespeare and crash their date, Alison wonders if she and Eddie’s relationship has lost its spark. Meanwhile, Jessica gets called for jury duty and campaigns to be the “Jury Boss,” and Emery and Evan struggle with the responsibilities of raising a Tamagotchi digital pet.
New Girl - "San Diego" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
As Jess continues to stay with her dad (guest star Rob Reiner) in Portland, they unexpectedly help one another with their love lives. Meanwhile, Nick turns to a reluctant Aly for help with his relationship with Reagan, and Schmidt contemplates using his first name.
The Mick - "The Bully" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
The tables are turned when a cyber bully targets Sofia, leading Mickey to come up with a plan for revenge. Meanwhile, Jimmy teaches Chip and Ben how to be self-sufficient, resulting in a painful disaster.
Trial & Error - "Right-Hand Man" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
A new piece of evidence emerges that leads Josh (Nicholas D'Agosto) an unlikely, and dangerous, new suspect: Larry's (John Lithgow) brother-in-law, Jeremiah Jefferson Davis. Meanwhile, the case takes another turn when the search for the murder weapon leads Dwayne (Steven Boyer) to find a dismembered human arm.
Trial & Error - "Secrets & Lies" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
As Josh (Nicholas D'Agosto) focuses on his new suspect, Larry (John Lithgow) insists on taking a lie-detector test to help prove his innocence, but the results drop a bombshell on the case and the family. Dwayne (Steven Boyer) briefly becomes a hometown celebrity as the man who found an arm in the lake, and the team gets a surprising new benefactor.
The Detour - "The Heat" (TBS, 10:00PM ET/PT)
The Parkers settle into a seemingly normal New York City routine but are being surveilled by federal agents who see more than they had suspected they would see.
Mann & Wife - "Take Me to the Mann" (Bounce TV, 9:00PM ET/PT)
The new Lieutenant arrives at the precinct, and everyone soon learns that she and Hobbs have a romantic past; A cable installer confuses Toni for singer Tamela Mann.
Mann & Wife - "Pressured by the Mann" (Bounce TV, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Toni faces a moral dilemma when the administrators at her school decide to change the students' standardized test results; Hobbs' mother brings her new fiance for a visit.
Tuesday, March 28
- Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) - Catch Alec on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother) - Jason is a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
- Hank Azaria (The Simpsons/Free Agents/Herman's Head) - Hank visits The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
- Kate Walsh (Bad Judge/The Drew Carey Show) - Kate appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
- Kristen Bell (The Good Place) - Kristen stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Cheryl Hines (Son of Zorn/Suburgatory/Curb Your Enthusiasm) - Cheryl is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Adam Pally (Making History/The Mindy Project/Happy Endings) - Adam drops by Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
- Judy Greer (Married/Mad Love/Miss Guided) - Judy appears on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Kevin James (Kevin Can Wait/The King of Queens) - Kevin is a guest on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Chelsea Handler (Are You There, Chelsea?) - Chelsea drops by LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat) - Randall appears on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Busy Philipps (Cougar Town) - Busy guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Keke Palmer (Scream Queens/True Jackson, VP) - Keke reveals what it’s really like being a child star, plus, the truth behind her struggles with anxiety and depression on The Dr. Oz Show, so check your local listings.
- Todd Grinnell (One Day at a Time/Four Kings) - Todd appears on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
- Richard Dreyfuss (Your Family or Mine) - Richard talks about Shots Fired on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
- George Lopez (Lopez/George Lopez) - George chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
- Melissa Peterman (Baby Daddy/Reba) - Melissa share her recipe for Mexican pizza on People Now at 8:30am.
- Jenna Elfman (Imaginary Mary/1600 Penn/Accidentally on Purpose/Courting Alex/Dharma & Greg) and Rachel Dratch (Imaginary Mary) - Jenna and Rachel talk about Imaginary Mary on the AOL Build Show at 12:30pm.
- Sutton Foster (Younger) - Sutton talks about Younger on a repeat of The Wendy Williams Show at 2am on BET or on your local stations.