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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

“Boston Legal”: "What a Family"

I can’t remember the last time an episode of a show swung so wildly so quickly from making me want to cry to making me laugh so hard it hurt.

But that’s exactly what happened with last night’s “Boston Legal.” And I was right. It was a classic…

Shirley and Carl (Candice Bergen and John Larroquette) had planned an intimate Thanksgiving Dinner, but partner Edwin Poole (Larry Miller) invited himself and his foster child. Then Shirley invited Katie (Tara Summers) and Jerry (Christian Clemenson) because they had nowhere to go. And when Alan (James Spader) and Denny (William Shatner) got wind of it, she had to invite them too. But since Denny already had plans with Melvin Palmer (Christopher Rich), Denny invited him along as well.

The dinner got off to a rough start when Alan got up on his soapbox and started preaching about race. That led to Jerry being so rude to Katie that she ended up telling him where to go and to Shirley getting upset and storming out. When Denny caught Carl comforting Shirley he was furious.

But before we could get too caught up in the melodrama, the show took a heartbreaking turn. Denny’s tirade against Shirley and Carl showed signs of Alzheimer’s induced confusion and Shirley had to comfort her friend as he faced the reality of losing his mind.

However, the show didn’t give us much time to wallow as Jerry made up with Katie by telling her the secret we know he’s been hiding all season—he’s in love with her. It was such a great moment that I actually cheered (I would’ve cheered louder, though, if she had said it back. I know they’d be an odd couple, but Jerry deserves to be happy.).

But before we could dwell too much on that, we were back at the dinner table for take two. But yet again, everyone started bickering. And this time Shirley revealed the reason she invited everyone to the dinner. It was her first Thanksgiving without her father and she wanted all the people to help her deal with it. It was another heartbreaking moment…

But before the tears could get out of my eyes, Edwin revealed the big secret that he, Shirley and Carl were hiding from the others. The firm is broke. Leave it to Denny to end the drama yet again with the classic line, “Did I know that and forget it?” (He didn’t.)

But before anyone could delve too deeply into that, we got the piece de resistance. When Shirley left the table yet again, Carl revealed to the group that he had planned to propose to Shirley, but that the moment was ruined. However, Alan argued that he should still do it. And then Denny told him to do it, followed by the rest of the group. So when Shirley walked into the room, Carl had no choice but to propose.

However, anyone expecting a sappy proposal doesn’t know “Boston Legal.” In fact, Carl didn’t do the proposal at all. Denny actually grabbed the ring and did it himself on Carl’s behalf. I laughed so hard I was shrieking.

But before we could enjoy that hilarious (and touching) moment too long, everyone headed back to the dinner table one more time for dessert. And Alan once again opened his mouth. But this time, he opened it to tell everyone how wonderful it was to finally have a real family. And finally, the tears had time to come out…

And then it was off to the balcony as Alan and Denny pondered the afterlife. Denny wondered how you were in heaven, because he didn’t want to go through eternity with Mad Cow (what he calls his Alzheimer’s). Alan told him he believed that you were in heaven as you were in your best years in life. “Like right now,” Denny said. “Like right now,” Alan answered.

Denny looked up to the sky (and right at the camera above) and said, “Thank you.” Alan then did the same, as the episode faded out.

It was a beautiful episode that seemed so much like a series finale.

And honestly, I kind of wish it had been. Because I don’t want to see Denny get worse. I don’t want to see the firm close down. I want the show to end with Denny and Alan on that balcony enjoying each other’s company and the life they’ve been given.

But alas, there are two more weeks, and I know no matter how much the show swings between drama and comedy, I will cry my eyes out. Because these people have become my family as well.
And as Alan said, “what a family”…

You can see last night’s episode at “Boston Legal” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on ABC…

Photos Credit: Vivian Zink/ABC