Saturday, May 30, 2009

Blog DVD Review: Boston Legal - Season Five

It is Saturday, so that must mean it is time for our weekly Blog DVD Review! Today we take a look at 20th Century Fox's court room series Boston Legal - Season Five. Boston Legal was a comedic law show starring James Spader and William Shatner. Denny Crane! See Seth Thrasher's Blog DVD review of Boston Legal - Season Five:

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
(5/5 stars)

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Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
Boston Legal TV.com Page


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, June 20

The Goldbergs - "Colors" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Barry enlists the JTP to help him break up Beverly’s group of friends so Barry can have all the attention but soon realizes he made a major mistake when Beverly gets into a fight with her friends. Meanwhile, Adam’s attempts to trick Murray into loving theater backfire.

The Goldbergs - "Jackie Likes Star Trek" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After Adam and Jackie disagree over their Halloween costumes, Murray teaches Adam to be a shell of a man to keep Jackie happy; however, it backfires quickly also causing an issue for Murray and Beverly. But they soon all learn to compromise in their own special way.

Modern Family - "Brushes with Celebrity" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The Pritchett-Dunphy-Tucker clan recount all their biggest celebrity encounters. Phil shows a house to his musical hero and is determined to make a good impression despite the intense pain radiating from a very inconvenient part of his body. Meanwhile, Jay’s day at jury duty takes an unexpected turn when he gets to serve it alongside one of America’s biggest football icons. Finally, Manny’s encounter with his favorite playwright and a celebrated actor and comedian don’t go exactly as you’d expect.

American Housewife - "Field Day" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Katie wants to prove to the Westport moms that she is fully capable of competing at Field Day at Anna-Kat’s school, but she ends up taking the competition a little too seriously. Greg enlists Taylor’s boyfriend, Trip, to help him make the family recipe for chili in a local competition, which makes Taylor and Oliver jealous.

Young & Hungry - "Young & Downtown Gabi" (Freeform, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Elliot and Yolanda worry about how their work lives will change now that Josh and Gabi are a couple.

Young & Hungry - "Young & Third Wheel" (Freeform, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Sofia hits it off with Josh's dentist, but Gabi isn't so sure he's the right one for her.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of June 18)

Wednesday, June 20

  • Nick Kroll (The League/Cavemen) - Watch Nick on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Alison Brie (GLOW/Community) - Alison visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. She also chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) - Chris is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Burt Reynolds (Evening Shade) - Burt appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • JoAnna Garcia Swisher (Animal Practive/Better with You) - JoAnna guest co-hosts The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Kevin Hart (The Big House/Undeclared), Jamie Foxx (The Jamie Foxx Show), Jay Pharoah (White Famous) and Woody Harrelson (Cheers) - The Ellen DeGeneres Show features funny guys from Season 15, so check your local listings.
  • Kym Whitley (Young & Hungry/Animal Practice/Sparks) - Kym is a guest on Steve, so check your local listings.
  • Jai Rodriguez (Malibu Country) - Jai guest co-hosts Access Live, so check your local listings.
  • Valerie Bertinelli (Hot in Cleveland/CafĂ© Americain/One Day at a Time) - Valerie prepares one-skillet suppers on a repeat of Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Sydelle Noel and Britney Young (GLOW) - Sydelle and Britney talk about GLOW on Chatter on PeopleTV at 8pm.
  • Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) - Eric is a guest on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Jamie Lee (Crashing) - Jamie appears on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) and Daniella Pineda (The Detour) - Chris and Daniella talk about Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine/Are We There Yet?/Everybody Hates Chris) - Terry talks about Sorry to Bother You on the BUILD Series at 10am.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (June)

Living Single - The Complete Fifth Season Step by Step - The Complete First Season Will & Grace (The Revival) - Season One Perfect Strangers - The Complete Fourth Season Last Man Standing - The Complete Sixth Season

06/05 - Living Single - The Complete Fifth Season
06/05 - New Girl - The Complete Sixth Season
06/05 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-First Season (Blu-ray)
06/12 - Fresh Off the Boat - The Complete Fourth Season
06/12 - Life in Pieces - The Complete Third Season
06/12 - The Office - The Complete Series
06/12 - Speechless - The Complete First Season
06/12 - Speechless - The Complete Second Season
06/12 - Step by Step - The Complete First Season
06/12 - Will & Grace (The Revival) - Season One (Blu-ray)
06/19 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Fourth Season
06/26 - Last Man Standing - The Complete Fifth Season
06/26 - Last Man Standing - The Complete Sixth Season
06/26 - The Mick - The Complete First Season
06/26 - The Mick - The Complete Second Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest