Boston Legal: Son of The Defender
(S03E18) This is why television was invented.
I hardly know where to begin. Let's start with Alan and his hilarious storyline. It was a great idea to separate Alan & Denny for this episode and "Mr Wisenheimers" (Spader) dynamite delivery provided some much needed comic relief. Also, this is the second episode in a row to start with women in their underwear. I hope it becomes a trend.
Now for the rest of the episode. For those of you who foolishly didn't watch, the biggest deal in tonight's episode was that actual footage of a very young William Shatner is used for a series of flashbacks. This footage comes from an episode of Playhouse 90 entitled The Defender, which also starred Ralph Bellamy as Shatner's father. If that title sounds familiar it's because the episode was eventually turned into a series starring E.G. Marshall and Robert Reed. I should note that Shatner did play a lawyer later on in a series called Man of the People, but the footage used for tonight's show was definitely from a live performance.
As I watched tonight's episode awash in goosebumps, I was reminded why I admired David E. Kelly aside from hooking up with Michelle Pfieffer. His brilliant understanding of the legal drama gives him the ability to take the genre in directions it has never gone before. It's nice to see that he still can do what he does best when he's not busy with garbage like The Wedding Belles.
In my expert opinion, this episode is the shining example of why Shatner is a great actor. Sure, he's become a caricature of Captain Kirk as well as himself, but there was a time when he was so damn engaging that you had to watch him when he was on the screen. Whenever my favorite Twilight Zone episode is on (Nick of Time with the devil head, not Nightmare at 20,000 Feet with the gremlin) I watch with bated breath. Shatner is the epitome of television acting. In the early days of live TV, he was one of the few actors who could utilize what he learned in the theater and make it work on the small screen.
I must admit that I was really caught off guard by how much of Denny Crane's character was revealed by the flashbacks. It was much more than a great gimmick. Watching those scenes, we all got to see what made Denny the lawyer he became and the enormous price he paid for it. The yearning that a young man has for his fathers approval is something every guy can identify with.
The cast was incredible throughout the episode. I have been a big fan of Stephen Lee's ever since he played Tom Arnold in that TV movie. James Keane is a welcome sight because I loved him so much on The Paper Chase (where he played a law student). I barely recognized Mike Hagerty without his beard and his performance was equally hilarious and heartbreaking.
In closing, I have to point the brilliant comedic talents of Mark Valley. I know he wants to be a leading man but watching him tonight made me long to see Keen Eddie again