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

Monday, January 17

The Neighborhood - "Welcome to the Knockout" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
As Dave nears his 40th birthday, Calvin offers to coach his friend for an amateur boxing tournament. Also, sparks fly when Marty meets a new woman at the gym.

Bob Hearts Abishola - "Cats in a Bathtub" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Bob accidentally reveals Morenike is gay, Abishola and Kemi are forced to defend her against their church, and even their own families. Also, Douglas comes clean to Olivia about not being poor.

Kenan - "Hustle and Flow" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Kenan and Aubrey clash when he refuses to see that she's growing up; while Gary pursues a controversial revenue stream on social media, Mika, Tami and Pam are inspired to show him the downside.

Kenan - "Dating App" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
With Gary's help, Kenan signs up for a dating app that he might not be ready for while Rick has an interesting date of his own; Mika and Pam strategize to help Tami when she is caught in an unflattering situation by a tabloid photographer.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 17)

Monday, January 17

  • Daveed Diggs (Central Park/black-ish) - Watch Daveed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC. He also talks about Snowpiercer on CBS Mornings sometime between 7-9am.
  • Aidy Bryant (Shrill) - Aidy appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • John Early (The Afterparty/Search Party) - John is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Jenifer Lewis (black-ish/The PJs) - Jenifer will be on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Ricky Gervais (After Life/The Office) - Ricky talks about the third season of After Party on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Kym Whitley (Young & Hungry/Animal Practice/Sparks) and Finesse Mitchell (Outmatched/A.N.T. Farm) - Kym and Finesse guest host The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Sheryl Lee Ralph (Abbott Elementary/Instant Mom/Moesha/It's a Living) - Sheryl talks about Abbott Elementary on The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Morris Chestnut (Out All Night) - Morris appears on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Fortune Feimster (Kenan/Bless the Harts/Sunnyside/Champions) - Fortune is a guest on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Michael Strahan (Brothers) - Michael talks about his trip into space on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Ed Helms (Rutherford Falls/The Office) and Randall Park Fresh Off the Boat/Veep) - Ed and Randall talk about Peacock's True Story with Ed and Randall on NBC's Today in the 9am hour and on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Hilary Duff (How I Met Your Father/Younger/Lizzie McGuire) - Hilary talks about How I Met Your Father on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Alyssa Milano (Who's the Boss?/Romantically Challenged) - Alyssa talks about Netflix's Brazen on ABC's GMA 3: What You Need to Know at 1pm.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (October-January)

Maude - The Complete Series (2021 Release) Mom - The Eighth and Final Season Punky Brewster (1984-88) - The Complete Series (2021 Release) I Dream of Jeannie - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)

10/19 - Maude - The Complete Series (2021 Release)
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11/02 - Mom - The Eighth and Final Season
11/02 - Punky Brewster - The Complete Series (2021 Release)
11/02 - Sex and the City - The Complete Collection (Blu-ray)
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12/07 - Rick & Morty - Season 5 (Blu-ray) (Blu-ray Limited Edition Steelbook)
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12/14 - Letterkenny - Season 9
01/04 - Work in Progress - Season 2
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