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TV Review: Boston Legal – “Son of the Defender”

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In Boston, one is bound to meet all sorts of people. When Alan Shore (James Spader) leaves his hotel room one morning, he overhears a loud argument. Being nosy, he goes to investigate. A surprise awaits. An acquaintance of his, Jenna, is being arrested for prostitution. Jenna's companion, a politician, is going to have a scandal on his hands.

At court, Alan tries to plea bargain. When it fails, he tries to get the ADA removed from the case. The judge refuses, and the war of words lands Alan, his client, and the senator in jail for contempt. The ADA says the married senator should tell his wife, in person, what happened. Soon, the woman is brought to the jail.

She responds to the matter with surprising calm. Even though their marriage had cooled off, she is more upset about her husband caught in the act. This exchange is painful both to the couple and to Alan and Jenna, who share the same cell.

The charges are dropped, and Alan tells the shaken man not to let his wife give up on him. Although the man does not respond, he recognizes the truth of Alan's words.

Back at the firm, Denny Crane (William Shatner) has a much more serious problem to deal with. Two men arrive, one wearing a bomb on his jacket. The man's mother was killed when he was a child. Denny and his father got the accused killer off fifty years ago, and the victim's son now wants revenge. When Denny realizes this is not a joke, he says he is not afraid to die. The man replies Denny will not die alone, as the bomb will be detonated.

By the time the three run into Paul Lewiston (Rene Auberjonois) and Denise Bauer (Julie Bowen), Denny is also wearing a bomb. They go to the conference room where Claire Simms (Constance Zimmer), Brad Chase (Mark Valley), Clarence Hall (Gary Anthony Williams), and Shirley Schmidt (Candice Bergen) are working on a civil suit between two pageant competitors.

The man wants to try the case again, taking the role of the prosecutor. Denny acts as the defense attorney, but this is higher stakes. Everybody else has a part to play, except two. Brad is sent out of the room, along with Shirley, who is made the liaison between the hostage taker and police.

When the SWAT team arrives, Brad offers to help. Being an ex-Marine gives him special skills. The team leader asks him to find a way in without alerting those in the conference room. It later occurs to Brad to crawl through the air vent and see if he can overhear. Shirley tries to stop him, but she doesn't have to. Brad manages to get stuck after getting his body halfway in.

This bit was amusing, but did it have to continue to the end?

In the conference room, it is revealed Denny and Daddy used a trick in their defense strategy. It was a legitimate method, but Denny remembers how at odds he and his father were over the case. The defendant refused to testify, which made the senior Crane firmly convinced of guilt. Denny knew their main concern should be an acquittal.

As the court transcript is read aloud, their defendant, who got off decades ago, tells them what he could not say then. He was seen in the building, but not in the victim's apartment. Since he was there to visit a man, he was not about to take the stand. The 1950s were not as open about homosexuality as today.

All "jurors" are sent out in the hall to make a decision. Bethany (Meredith Eaton-Gilden) is convinced of the accused's guilt. Denise argues vigorously for reasonable doubt. When everyone returns, they render a not guilty verdict. The hostage taker pulls out a gun and holds it to his head. Paul says killing them all won't help. The man walks out of the conference room, where SWAT moves in. Denny convinces the man to drop the weapon, and he is safely taken into custody without incident.

On the balcony, Alan and Denny talk about what happened. Alan mentions his dad was never proud of him. Denny goes on about paternal pride, but later reveals his father disowned him. The shock and pain in Denny's voice is obvious.

This powerful and clever episode of Boston Legal used clips from a television pilot, The Defender, William Shatner made as the reason for revenge. Another well-known actor, Ralph Bellamy, played the role of his father. Alan was in jail, so his verbal patter could not be used. Brad's role was virtually useless. I realize Mark Valley is a gifted comic actor, but lately he has been either non-existent or used for laughs. He's too good to be so underused. Claire never spoke during the entire episode. I liked seeing Paul and Denny as the voices of reason. When Paul gets upset, I have a hard time watching.

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