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TV Review: Boston Legal - “Race Ipsa”

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As this episode opens, Denny Crane (William Shatner) is talking to his therapist, Sidney (Peter McNichol, in a guest starring role). He is unclear about what he wants to do at this point in his life. In a one of those tie-ins to real life, Denny says he is bottled up like a kidney stone. For viewers who may not understand, Shatner raised money for Habitat for Humanity by selling his kidney stone to the highest bidder.

Sidney pulls no punches when he says Denny is using money to bolster a self image. He taunts Denny until he pulls out a gun and aims it at Sidney. Sidney also pulls out a gun and tells Denny to go ahead, as it would save Sidney from killing himself. A life insurance policy would kick in, so Sidney’s son could continue at an Ivy League School. Denny ends up shooting Sidney in the shoulder.

Alan Shore (James Spader) is in court, watching a public defender claim overwork as the reason he cannot take a case of racial profiling. Alan takes over as defense counsel.

As Alan leaves the courtroom, a former colleague, Chelina Hall (Kerry Washington, Ray) calls out his name. The last time the two of them worked together, it was a death penalty trial. To Alan, this is perfect! He thinks she would make a good choice for co-counsel. There is the additional matter of chemistry bubbling just below the surface.

Alan’s cell phone rings, and he picks it up with a sly, “It’s my lover.” It’s Denny, calling for help. When Alan walks into the jail cell, Denny tells his friend it was self defense. Alan says this is serious, especially since Denny has a history of firing guns at people. He saved Alan’s life from an upset ex-husband in “Hired Guns,” shot a child rapist and murderer in “Truly, Madly, Deeply”, and a homeless man in “Gone.”

Back at the firm, Brad Chase (Mark Valley) says to Denise Bauer (Julie Bowen) that Denny does this all the time. In the break room, Denise asks how Brad’s date with Sandy went. So much for Audrey, the paralegal who loves her vagina. Brad says nothing. Denise points out Brad does not exactly have friends with whom he spends time. Brad disagrees. Denise says to name three, Brad can’t. Finally, Denise draws out Brad enough to find out he is having problems keeping girlfriends due to his kissing abilities, or lack thereof. Brad wonders why this is really important.

Brad runs into Alan in the hallway and asks if he can join him and Denny on the balcony sometime. Alan says more than two people can be problematic, but is there something specific on Brad’s mind? Brad blurts out, “Are you a good kisser?” Alan does not dignify the question with a response. Aww…that would have been a sight to behold!

Alan appears in court for Denny’s probable cause hearing. In other words, whether there is enough evidence to have a trial. He takes one look at the judge and says, “It’s you!” This is the same judge who does not like “jibber jabber,” but did not send Alan’s assistant, Melissa (Marisa Coughlan), to jail for not paying her taxes. The judge agrees to go forward.

In Shirley Schmidt’s (Candice Bergen) office, Paul Lewiston (Rene Auberjonois) tells her the managing partners have met, and they have had enough of Denny’s out of control behavior. Paul says there is a clause which can force Denny’s ouster if convicted of a felony.

On the way to Alan’s office to discuss strategy, he and Chelina walk past Melissa. She pulls Alan aside, and says she is not comfortable with him and Chelina together. He is bewildered. Melissa says she knows he kissed Chelina. Alan protests, saying “You’re as mad as a hatter!” Melissa says the time they spent in bed together combatting Alan’s night terrors in “Ass Fat Jungle” was a prelude to the sex they are going to have. My favorite line? When Melissa says, “She’s just a guest star.”

Talk about bold! This is Melissa’s boss she’s talking to. He hired her out of several other candidates because she was the best-looking. She put him on notice she was not around to be his sexual object. In fact, she would report him if he tried. When they finally kissed, it was her initiative, but he did not resist. Soft and sweet, it was not unlike the one Alan shared with Chelina in “Death Be Not Proud”. She was crying and Alan tried to comfort her, and she kissed him. She regretted it the next morning, but Alan handled it like an adult — he understood she needed his legal tactics more than she needed him.

When Melissa later spots Alan and Chelina seated on the couch in his office, there is an unmistable intimacy. Melissa does not interrupt, but you know she will remember.

Brad, frustrated over the situation with Sandy, finds Denise. When Denise asks why women go out with him, Brad says he is the “Complete Package,” being a lawyer and a Marine. Uh, forgot cute! When she hears how Brad kisses (French style), she offers to give him instruction. Brad walks out, and Paul is seen standing at Denise’s doorway with a startled look on his face. Denise says, “Don’t ask,” Rene has the best double takes on this show, it’s a joy to see him in action.

Brad returns later and asks for Denise’s help. After some coaching as to how the tongue works, they try a kiss. Brad is awkward, but Denise figures out the problem is Brad’s being uncomfortable with a woman’s tongue in his mouth. She tells him sharing is good, and to relax. He does, and they finally get going. Talk about chemistry! Watching these two pros share one powerful kiss, and several more, helps me remember why Boston Legal remains on the air.

An added surprise is in store: they end up having sex. Brad is thrown for a loop by the encounter, but it was just sex to Denise. Watch and wait…

Alan and Chelina have a tough case of a black man being arrested in an all-white neighborhood for refusing to show any identification. Alan suggests they plea bargain when the three are alone, but the client wants to fight. Alan’s closings are masterful, but he wisely lets Chelina handle this one. She pulls out all the stops, and it works. A not guilty verdict.

As Chelina leaves, she tells Alan goodbye. He kisses her quickly and says bye.
Denny, however, is a different story. Alan puts Sidney on the stand and tells the judge Sidney is a “hostile” witness, meaning Sidney does not want to be there and came only because Alan subpoenaed him. Sidney shows his contempt for others. When the judge asks, “What kind of doctor are you?” Sidney pulls out a gun.

Alan has negotiated his way out of trouble before in “The Cancer Man Can.” This time, though, it’s different. Sidney is not keen on being talked out of his goal, so Denny has no choice but to fire his gun. The paramedics take Sidney to get medical attention. The trial, of course, finds in Denny’s favor, due to his saving everyone’s life. The judge lets him off with a stern warning.

Peter McNichol is a talented actor, but he’s the third cast member of Chicago Hope to show up on Boston Legal . The other two has been Adam Arkin as an assistant district attorney and Jayne Brook as Rachel Lewiston, Paul’s daughter. Who’s next…Christine Lahti, Peter Berg, or Hector Elizando? And Sidney’s wig…oh dear.

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About NancyGail

  • charles stanford

    I did particularly enjoy that episode. Also, not much has been mentioned about Shelley Berman’s excellent work as judge anti-jibber jabber.

    One of the best parts was seeing Alan Shore practicing.

  • http://notesfromnancy.blogspot.com NancyGail

    I assume you meant practicing law. Only two more weeks until the season finale (two hours, but really two shows backs to back). Keep in mind the Alan/Jerry storyline is not finished yet, so it will be interesting to see how it turns out..

  • http://blogcritics.org Joanie

    Congrats! This article has been placed on Advance.net

  • Addisu

    Wow! That makeout scene between denise and brad,
    10 out of 10 baby!

  • http://notesfromnancy.blogspot.com NancyGail

    MV was on Days of Our Lives for 5 years as romantic lead Jack Devereaux (the Matthew Ashford role). He clearly learned a few tricks of the trade.