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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Boston Legal": Going Out Strong

I’ve been so busy trying to stay up on the premieres that I’ve neglected to say anything about “Boston Legal.”

And considering how strong “BL” has been in its final season, that’s truly a crime. Plus, after last night’s brilliant episode, I really have no choice…

In the season premiere, we were introduced to Phoebe (Ally Walker), an old girlfriend of Alan’s (James Spader) that he still carried a torch for. After he beat her in court and they said their goodbyes, Alan started to get a little more introspective about his lack of a love life. It really seemed like the show was planning some sort of epiphany for Alan on the road to happily ever after.

So when Phoebe returned at the end of last week’s episode to ask Alan to defend her husband for murdering his mistress, it seemed like Alan would get his happy ending with Phoebe. Now granted, I would rather see Alan’s happy ending with Tara (Rhona Mitra, who was cut from the cast after season one), but anyone played by Ally Walker is a good substitute.

Especially when we met Phoebe’s cold-hearted husband, Robert (beautifully played by the fabulous Kyle Secor), who you just knew was guilty as sin—as did Alan and Denny (William Shatner), who didn’t believe Phoebe’s story that Robert was with her all night for a second.

In fact, Denny encouraged Alan to get off the case since he would lose no matter what the verdict, but Alan pressed forward to help the woman he loved. Or maybe he was just trying to impress her.

Unfortunately, if he was trying to impress her, he wasn’t doing a very good job of it since the case was not going well and Alan refused to put Robert on the stand since the jury would hate him. The case came down to Phoebe’s testimony and Alan told her she’d have to be much more convincing to the jury than she had been to him.

But when Phoebe took the stand she shocked everyone and admitted her husband had left that night. During the ensuing recess, Phoebe told Alan that she realized she could go to jail by committing perjury and that there would be no one to care for her children. After a conversation with Robert—that we didn’t see—Alan resumed his questioning of Phoebe, and when he was done talking about her threats to her children, her personality disorder and much, much more, Phoebe looked completely guilty herself—as I had predicted.

During his closing, Alan shook his head and ignored his broken heart to tell the jury, “She did it.” Of course, the jury found Robert not guilty.

Back at the office, Alan encouraged Robert to stay with out-of-town friends since his murdering wife was on the loose. But lo and behold, in glided Phoebe to confess that she and Robert had staged the whole thing. None of the stuff Robert told Alan about Phoebe was true. Robert was indeed the murderer. When Alan told her that she was now the prime suspect, she responded that was a chance she was willing to take because she would do anything to keep her family together.

Alan could only stand with his mouth open in shock as Denny tried to comfort him…
It was an hour full of twists and turns that would make “24” proud, powered by great performances from the dynamic duo of Spader and Shatner and guest stars Walker, Secor and Brenda Strong (Mary Alice, “Desperate Housewives”) as the judge. Plus it featured only Alan and Denny. No Shirley or Carl or Katie or Jerry. Just the two that matter most.

I just wish that “BL” mattered a little more to ABC. It’s the most award-winning of all of ABC’s current shows, yet it receives no love from the network. It almost didn’t get a final season, and when it did, it only got 13 episodes.

But it looks like those 13 are going to be pretty good ones, so be sure to jump on the Crane express before it’s too late…

“Boston Legal” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on ABC…

Photo Credit: Vivian Zink/ABC