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TV Review: Boston Legal – “Smile”

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Have you ever heard of karma? It’s the theory that the things you do, whether good or bad, come back to you in one form or another.

When Brad Chase (Mark Valley) heard that Paul Lewiston (Rene Auberjonois) and Shirley Schmidt (Candice Bergen) were concerned about the upcoming marriage between Denny Crane (William Shatner) and Bev Bridges (Joanna Cassidy), he took it upon himself to try and stop the event (Too Much Information). It didn’t work, despite Bev’s hesitation before refusing Brad’s monetary offer.

However, she never forgot that the bribe was made. She enlists Denny’s help to prevent her ailing cat, Barry Manilow, from dying prematurely at the hands of her ex-husband. He appoints Brad to procure a court order to stop a respirator from being turned off. The camera shot of Brad striding purposefully down the hospital corridor, legal document in hand, is a great touch. I was reminded of the military officer Mark is. As Denny pointed out to Bev, Brad Chase “graduated from West Point” (as Mark did) and got his law degree from Harvard. Brad secretly protests having to handle this case once the two feuding parties are in his office, but Denny tells him, “If it’s important to Bev, it’s important to me.”

Bev later tells Brad, “I hate cats,” but she says that he really needs to win the case, adding “Please.” Brad quickly apologizes for his bribery attempt, to which Bev replies, “As you should.” I noticed how hard it was for him to apologize. Bev says that his getting her case is indeed blackmail. I was impressed with the way Brad presented his closing, focusing on the notion that pets are considered members of the family. He even brought a large poster of the cat as a visual aid.

He loses, but his caring side comes out as he lays his hand over hers to try and calm a visibly upset Bev. When the respirator is turned off, the cat is still breathing. The ex tells Bev “You can keep him.”

Perhaps the best part was when Brad says that while he technically didn’t win, weren’t they square now that she has her cat. The words spill out of him in typical rapid-fire fashion, but he is trying everything he can to not let Denny hear that Bev was offered half a million dollars to walk away and not look back. She says, “I’ll tell you when we’re square, Brad,” and leaves. Brad lets out an expletive once he is alone in his office. Nice to see a chink in his armor! He’s usually so uptight that people have a difficult time relating to him other than professionally. If he meets someone at a bar after work, it’s to conduct business (It Girls and Beyond). By the way, Mark needs to be nominated for an Emmy.

This wasn’t the only thing that happened during this episode. Alan Shore (James Spader) helped a girl with facial nerve damage, making it impossible for her to smile, admitted to a private academy. It seems that he knew her mother, Phyllis, from his Rolodex of legal colleagues. When the board of trustees was not persuaded by Alan’s argument to admit Phyllis’s daughter, he called an ABC reporter (cute) whose specialty was local interest stories. The tactic worked.

Shirley Schmidt (Candice Bergen) and Denise Bauer (Julie Bowen) take on the case of an 18 year old who was raped but denied the “morning after” pill, or emergency contraception to prevent a pregnancy. The hospital was Catholic, and the doctor opposed on religious grounds. Shirley used the premise of informed consent in her closing, stating that Amelia had not been given all of the options available. It worked, and the settlement was considerable.

Another week without Sara Holt (Ryan Michelle Bathe). At least when Melissa Hughes (Marisa Coughlan) was transferred to another department, Alan and Shirley talked about it openly (Helping Hands). But a series regular leaves for weeks and no one says anything about it or hears from her? Tsk, Tsk. Should she be removed from the opening credits?
Edited: [GH]

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