Will The Practice have three lives? Though the television program will end this summer, its legacy of excellent acting in a drama about a law firm will carry on. The two latest members of the cast, fired renegade lawyer Alan Shore (James Spader) and British legal assistant Tara Wilson (Rhona Mitra) will join a new practice. Denny Crane, veteran actor William Shatner, who appeared in "The Case Against Alan Shore" and episodes leading up to it, is a rainmaker in that new firm.
LOS ANGELES, California (Hollywood Reporter) — David E. Kelley's Emmy-winning legal drama The Practice will bow out May 16 after eight seasons.
The final episodes of the ABC show will set up a spin-off series, which has been given a 22-episode order by the network for the fall.
Sources said Kelley, ABC and producer 20th Century Fox TV evaluated creatively the options of picking up The Practice for a ninth season or spinning off the series into a new drama before mutually agreeing on the latter.
The Practice's first life focused on Bobby Donnell (Dylan McDermott), a working-class striver who achieved his ideal — partnership in a professional, profitable law firm. McDemott's smoldering good looks and chronic angst kept viewers tuned in for seven years. His supporting cast, particularly (Camryn Manheim) Ellenor Frutt and (Steve Harris) Eugene Young, could be depended on to provide fireworks. The Practice became a favorite of the Emmy Awards. However, after a move to Monday nights from its long lease on Sunday's at 10 p.m., the program lost momentum and audience. Kelley surprised the industry and viewers by firing most of the original cast last year.
A reversal of fortune occurred when versatile actor James Spader (pictured above) took on the role of Alan Shore, an ethically challenged litigator. Spader has performed the role as a fascinating mix of avenging angel and annoying heckler. His performance last night, in which he managed to be righteous and offensive simultaneously, was the best yet. "The Case Against Alan Shore" highlighted the difficulties inherent in employing professionals. Young, fed up with constantly being challenged by Shore, fired him. But, Shore brought in more money than the rest of the lawyers combined during his eight-month stint. To walk away with only pocket change would have been an admission of defeat. It is not possible to demand specific performance, i.e., maintaining an agreed upon relationship, in regard to employment. Shore sued and won. Predictably, he was ambivalent about the result. I still don't know what Alan Shore wants. I don't think Alan Shore knows what he wants either. Perhaps the not knowing is what keeps us coming back for more.