TV/American TV-PG Running time: 14:48
IMDB rating: 8.5 Aspect: Wide; Languages: English; Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; Audio: DD Surr.
As in Munchkinland, people seem to come and go so quickly at the law firm of Crane, Poole & Schmidt. Out the door as Season Four begins are cast members Mark Valley, Julie Bowen, Rene Auberjonois, and Constance Zimmer (a tough loss). But the more things change the more they stay the same. Introduced to sweet, pretty and capable new lawyer Katie Lloyd (Tara Summers), it takes Alan Shore (James Spader) all of one second to come on to her. It takes Denny Crane (William Shatner) five. The most stellar addition to the firm is Night Court Emmy-winner John Larroquette as Carl Sack from the New York office. He has come not to shake things up so much as to tone them down, and "wring out some of the madness." "We are in the business of law," he pronounces. "A law firm has to be discreet, conservative." Good luck with that, Carl, especially when one of the lawyers keeps popping up on YouTube dressed as his female alter-ego, and the senior partner is one minute arrested for soliciting a prostitute, and the next caught in his own Larry Craig bathroom incident, and the next courting a discrimination suit after firing a female associate for being overweight. That, of course, would be addled loose cannon Denny Crane, who seems to be more of a distraction this season, but who rises to the occasion in an excellent episode in which he and Alan find themselves on opposite sides in the case of a Massachusetts town that wants to secede from the United States. "Every time someone counts me out of the game, I surprise them," he tells Carl. Boston Legal is nothing if not surprising, as witness the story arc involving a woman (former Saturday Night Live ensemble member Mary Gross) with Aspergers whose budding romance with Jerry Espenson (Christian Clemenson) is threatened by her romantic love for inanimate objects (the condition exists; look it up). Another new addition to the firm, Lorraine (Saffron Burrows), herself an object of Alan's obsession, reveals explosive secrets from her past. But more compelling is the dramatic case of a woman (guest star Mare Winningham) who efficiently plots the murder of her daughter's killer, but wants Alan to plead temporary insanity. Spader, a three-time Emmy-winner as Alan, is at his best when he is on his (and series creator David Kelley's) "soapbox" ("Don't you get tired going on and on like that?" Denny affectionately chides him). His verbal smackdown of the United States Supreme Court justices in the episode, "The Court Supreme," is one of the season's most memorable moments. Carl Sack may not succeed in making Crane, Pool & Schmidt "a normal law firm," but as one is heard to remark, "It's not everyday you encounter compelling characters, is it?