Fans of Boston Legal
earlier this month were getting worried: Upfront week
was closing in, and ABC
still had not committed to a fifth season of their show. Adding to the tension was the fact that the network had renewed all of its most popular series way back in February but had left Legal
off the list.
Then came the good news: Only a few days before ABC presented its fall schedule
to advertisers and the press, the network picked up Legal
for another 13 episodes, which are scheduled to play out this fall at 10 p.m. on Monday nights. (The series concludes its fourth season this week.) Now, here’s some potentially great
news: A very well placed source tells me that the Season 5 episode order for Legal
is not carved in stone and that it could be extended beyond 13, depending on how well the show does in the fall and how strong ABC’s midseason development turns out to be.
I suspect that another honor or two at this year’s Emmy Awards might also support an extended fifth season. The odds should definitely be in the show’s favor when nominations are announced in July. (Nomination ballots go out to voting members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in two weeks.) Last year, James Spader nabbed yet another Emmy for the role of attorney Alan Shore, bringing his total to three (one of them for his portrayal of Shore on The Practice
, the David E. Kelley legal drama on which he originated the role, and two for his work on Legal
, a Practice
spin-off). Spader’s 2007 win over James Gandolfini for the final season of HBO’s The Sopranos
was considered a major upset (although Jack Myers called it in his annual Emmy prediction column
As powerful as Spader was last year, though, he has been truly dismantling this season, especially in episodes that have been telecast since Legal returned from its writers strike hiatus. Many series just haven’t been themselves after their strikus-interruptus, but Legal has rocked, with episodes so emotionally rich and resonant that they would seem to ensure nominations for Spader and two of his co-stars, William Shatner and Candice Bergen, as well as the series itself. Two episodes in particular -- one in which Crane, Poole & Schmidt senior partner Shirley Schmidt (Bergin) fought to allow her Alzheimer’s-ravaged father to die with dignity, the other featuring Shore’s destined to be legendary confrontation with the Supreme Court -- could bring Spader his fourth statue, Shatner his third and Bergin her first for their portrayals of these characters. The writers who give these actors such sterling dialogue also deserve recognition.
If you haven’t seen the clip below, stop reading for a few minutes and watch an actor at the top of his game as Spader makes Shore a worthy adversary for our current Supreme Court justices, each of them played to modest perfection by actors with whom you are likely not familiar.
Alan Shore argues before the Supreme Court
And now, watch Spader in grand form once again, as Shore argues in support of passive euthanasia for Schmidt’s ailing father, referring at times to his growing concern and love for his dear (and unnamed) friend Denny Crane (Shatner), who is in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s. Keep a box of tissues at hand.