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TV Review: Boston Legal – “Fat Burner”

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When Clarence Bell (Gary Anthony Williams) puts himself on the list of public defenders available to try a case, shockwaves echo all over Boston. For Mr. Bell, it's hearing he has a first-degree murder case on his hands. Luckily for him, Bethany Horowitz (Meredith Eaton-Gilden) agrees to be second chair if the need arises.

Alan Shore (James Spader), Clarence's immediate boss, is shocked when he discovers Clarence wants to be more than his legal secretary. For some reason, Clarence neglected to mention to the judge this case is his first. Oops! The case is a felony, so it goes to criminal trial for starters. Unfortunately, the classification of crime puts it at the top of the list for worst offenses. Complicating matters is the issue of human trafficking.

After Paul Lewiston (Rene Auberjonois) hears Clarence wants his client to plead temporary insanity, he nixes any idea of Clarence taking the case. Paul considers the ramifications too great if the firm suffers a loss. Later, he re-considers and offers help.

I have to wonder why in the world Clarence didn't ask his old boss, Claire Simms (Constance Zimmer), for her expertise. It makes the most sense as Clarence feels more comfortable with her than anyone else in the office. Of course, they also have their relationship to think of.

Shirley Schmidt (Candice Bergen) is stunned when Jeffrey Coho (Craig Bierko) tenders his resignation, effective immediately. Equally aghast is Claire, who came to the bureau when Jeffrey did ("New Kids on the Block"). He tells her she seems to be happy and should stay.

Brad Chase (Mark Valley) is more disappointed than angry at the news. He and Jeffrey have never gotten along, but they make excellent sparring partners. Brad apologizes for any part he may have had in the decision, but the problem lies with someone else.

Denise Bauer (Julie Bowen) suspects, correctly, her having a baby with Brad doesn't help matters. In private, Jeffrey says it is the final humiliation for him, and adds he has never respected anyone who would agree to be 'friends with benefits'. It's said lightly, but the sting is clearly written on Denise's face.

Shirley thinks there is more to the story, and finds Jeffrey in his Buzz Lightyear costume. He often uses it to help him deal with low blood sugar issues, but there's a complication. When Jeffrey and Brad got into a physical altercation at the last costume party ("Dumping Bella"), something got jammed and he cannot get the costume off. Shirley can't, either. Jeffrey tells her he wanted to be the father to Denise's baby since he was not around much for his own daughter after she was born. Shirley replies he should go ahead and walk out the way he is, holding his head up.

Claire, Brad, and Denise are in the lobby when Jeffrey leaves. Shirley is there, too, sternly saying not to laugh. As Jeffrey says his final goodbyes, he mentions he will still be in Boston. Brad is gracious enough to shake hands, and Claire gets a kiss on the cheek from Jeffrey, since she is the one he will miss most of all.

I wondered if someone would leave after Denise announced the results of the paternity test. I just thought it might be Brad. I'm glad Jeffrey questioned Denise directly. She never showed Brad any paperwork, which makes me question whether she told Brad the truth.

Hopefully, the powers-that-be will see fit to bring Craig Bierko back sometime. He really is a talented actor, and seeing both Alan and Brad on edge while trying to deal with Jeffrey's verbal banter added new dimensions to this show.

Back in Alan's lair, his legal expertise is needed after Denny Crane (William Shatner) is arrested for illegally trying to ship human fat overseas. It's not a bad concept, but DA Ginsberg (Currie Graham) has always had it in for the firm. He will do everything he can to make the charges stick. Going up against Alan makes him try even harder to win.

In a rare moment of reality, Alan asks Denny if the founding partner considered the possibility of losing. Denny had, but he is not trying the case. Enough common sense prevailed for Denny to seek help. Naturally, Alan gets the not-guilty verdict.

This had to have been the jury foreman's first time in court. Why else would he nearly forget to read the verdict? It took a glance from the judge (Howard Hesseman) to get things straightened out.

Clarence gets off to a wobbly start in his own trial, but stroking Clarice's wig helps considerably. He is not stupid enough to wear it, but tucks it in his briefcase. Paul is surprised at how well the testimony goes, and suggests that Clarence handle the closing. He might have handled it himself, except Bethany points out he doesn't have 'pop'.

Leave it to Bethany! I might have been a bit more delicate, but Paul is better at management than persuasion. This gives Gary Anthony Williams a chance to shine, and he pulls it off with quiet flair.

The verdict is 'not guilty by reason of insanity'. Paul and Bethany are pleased at Clarence's success, and I have a feeling he might be in court more often. Perhaps Brad and Alan can give him a few more pointers.

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